There was a basketball all-star game for senior girls in Minnesota after the 1988-89 season. The coaches in attendance included representatives from Division I schools and also from the Division II North Central Conference.
The players included Laurie Trow, a 6-foot center from Rochester John Marshall. She intended to play at St. Thomas, where Ted Riverso was six seasons into an outstanding run as the Tommies coach.
“Laurie had a great high school career without receiving that much attention,” Riverso said. “I still was sweating it out that the scholarship schools were going to come after her more aggressively.
“Then Laurie was the best player on the floor in the all-star game. I could hear the coaches and others in the crowd saying, ‘Where’s that kid going to school?,’ meaning which scholarship school.
“I was standing in the hall after the game, thinking, ‘This is over. We’re going to lose her.’
“Then someone came up from behind and put me in a bearhug. It was Laurie and she was laughing. She said, ‘Stop worrying; I’m not going anywhere but St. Thomas.’ ”
More scholarship offers came in, but Trow stuck with the Tommies. They won a first Division III national championship in 1991. They were unbeaten in 1991-92 until losing to Luther in a quarterfinal upset.
Trow still holds the MIAC record with 2,607 points and 1,204 rebounds. She played in 113 games and scored in double figures in all of them.
“I was in the corporate world for a couple of years after graduation, and decided I had to get back to basketball,” she said. “I was a grad assistant at Mankato [Minnesota State] and then got the job at Binghamton (N.Y.).
“I was gone for 14 years. We did the things that Minnesotans do: pack up the kids, make a quick trip home for Christmas, come home for a week or two in the summer.”
Trow was named head coach at Binghamton in 1998. She was on a trip to Arizona, found time to play golf, and it was raining when she got to the course.
“I was complaining and the guy in the pro shop said what you always hear in Arizona: ‘We really need the rain,’ ” she said. “I said something like, ‘Hey, it’s the desert, and I’m here to play golf, not watch it rain.’ ”
The man was Matt Kelly. That conversation led to a date, which eventually led to marriage, and now two teenage daughters, Morgan, 14, and Madison, turning 12 this week.
Laurie Trow Kelly left Binghamton for Division I Northern Arizona in 2003 and was the coach at the Flagstaff school for nine seasons. There were good years and a bad one in 2011-12.
There was a health crisis for her father, Fay, in the spring of 2012. She came home to see him as he was hospitalized and being treated by Mayo Clinic doctors.
“While I was at home, I saw the Gustavus job was open,” Trow Kelly said. “Minnesota girls — I don’t think we ever leave here emotionally. I also wanted to be more of a present mother with my daughters than you can be with the demands of a Division I coach.”
On an impulse, she contacted Tom Brown, the new Gustavus athletic director. She expressed interest in the job, a quick deal was made and she resigned at Northern Arizona.
“We sold our house in one day in Arizona and headed to St. Peter,” Trow Kelly said. “I’m still chasing recruits, but I don’t live in hotels. And the type of kids I get to coach at Gustavus … when someone graduates, I miss the parents as much as the student-athletes.
“There’s Minnesota Nice and then there’s Gustie Nice, which is a notch higher.”
The Gusties are 25-2 this season and received an at-large berth in the 64-team Division III tournament bracket. They will play DePauw late Friday afternoon, with Calvin and host Wis.-Oshkosh in the other half of the four-team pod.
“We’ll have to play better than we did on Sunday,” Trow Kelly said. “We didn’t play well against St. Thomas.”
Yup, those Tommies, Hall of Famer Laurie Trow’s Tommies … responsible for both Gusties losses in 2016-17, including Sunday in the MIAC tournament final in St. Paul.
“Those four years at St. Thomas are some of the greatest days of my life, but I’d sure like to beat them,” Trow Kelly said. “We’ve done well in five years at Gustavus, but we still haven’t beaten St. Thomas.”
Ruth Sinn’s Tommies (27-0) start the tournament at home on Friday night against Wis.-Superior. The Tommies and the Gusties are in different regions and would have to reach the national semifinals to have a third match this season.
“That would be so great,” Laurie Trow Kelly said. “Not beating the Tommies … it’s killing me.”
Patrick Reusse can be heard 3-6 p.m. weekdays on AM-1500. firstname.lastname@example.org