Her role at DePaul is a simple one, but not an easy one.
“She does all of the things you ask of an athlete to do that are simple and that you would think everybody could do them, but if they were so simple then why doesn’t everybody do them?” said DePaul coach Doug Bruno.
Bruno often talks about “the game within the game,” a reference to all the things that go on inside the actual game. In reference to Reynolds’ play at DePaul for the past three years, that reference might be extended to “the game within the game within the game.”
At Penn High School in Mishawaka, Indiana, Reynolds led her team in scoring her sophomore year. Her average of 19 ppg, five assists per game, and three steals per game her junior year set the stage for a stellar senior campaign: 22.4 ppg, 4.3 assists per game and a 49 percent field goal percentage, culminating a career where she scored more than 1,500 points, dished out over 400 assists, and had over 270 steals.
She then committed to play collegiate ball at Boston College, transferring to DePaul after one year and then sitting out the NCAA-requisite one year for transfers.
“During my transfer year, my role was doing everything I could to make the team better, including working on the practice team,” said Reynolds.
In 2011 Reynolds averaged 17.0 minutes per game, shot 40 percent from the field, and averaged 3.5 ppg.
The adjustment for Reynolds from being an All-State selection in high school to a role player at DePaul was not easy initially.
“It’s definitely hard at first [not being the go-to person] because you are used to being that person,” said Reynolds. “But after a while you learn your role and you learn how to perform your best at that role, and I think that is something that I finally figured out this year concerning what the team needs and to do it to the best of your ability.”
Stat lines can highlight things, and they can also hide things.
“She is a great student, she is always on time, she is incredibly coachable, she is incredibly smart, and she cares deeply about her teammates,” said Bruno.
In 2011 Reynolds was awarded DePaul’s Cookie Gavin Courage Award and the Shirley Becker Academic Award. She played double digit minutes in all 32 games.
She missed nine games in 2012 with a broken foot. Her team awarded her the Pat Ewers Unsung Hero Award and she earned another Shirley Becker Academic Award. She was a member of the BIG EAST All-Academic team for the second straight year.
In 2013 her numbers have remained fairly constant to the prior three years: 15.6 minutes per game, 4.3 ppg, 40 percent field goal percentage, and this year, a 40 percent mark from beyond the arc, good for second on the team.
“We really need those 16-17 minutes she gives us every game,” said Bruno. “It might be knocking a shot down, getting a big steal, or just giving the other players a chance to rest, given the style that we play.”
And all of that is done with such tremendous energy, a bad day at work is a foreign concept to Reynolds.
“I go in there and I just try to bring energy. If I notice we are not off to quick start, my role is to be a spark and do the little things so we can start to do the bigger things, and I just try to knock down shots when I am open and get steals and rebounds. The high energy comes natural.”
All DePaul student-athletes participate in volunteer activities throughout the year. Part of Reynolds’ volunteering has been with the DePaul Soup Kitchen. Reynolds said earlier in the year, “I will continue service work. Giving back is what St. Vincent de Paul stood for and a value that DePaul cherishes.”
Reynolds has already obtained her undergraduate degree in psychology. She is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in computing and digital media and she plans to work in security for the U.S. Government one day.
Bruno, in his 28th year at DePaul, has his team on track for a 12th straight NCAA Tournament appearance. He knows that successful teams are made of stars and role players. He also knows that those categories, in Reynolds’ case, are reversible.
“Kelsey has, in her own way, been a star for this program,” said Bruno. “We missed her for Creighton and Providence this year due to an injury, and the reasons we missed her is that she is the classic, intelligent player who knows her role, embraces her role, and plays her role with vital importance. She is taking the concept of role player, and the importance of her role is equal to that of a star.”
And “the game within the game within the game”? It also includes this:
“She is a good, solid human being at the core of it all.”