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Kristina Kelly coaching with Prout.

The torch is being passed again in the Prout girls basketball program.

Kristina Kelly is taking over as head coach for the Crusaders, moving up from her role as junior varsity coach and varsity assistant. That’s the same path to the top job taken by John Silva, who was an assistant before becoming head coach in 2014. After six years at the helm, Silva stepped down following this past season.

“I was pretty much shocked,” Kelly said. “John Silva has built such a great program. I was saddened by his leaving, but he taught me a lot in my three years there. I was super excited, but I was more just shocked. I couldn’t wait to get started, because this has been a dream of mine to be a head coach of a high school team.”

Kelly, nee Weasel, starred at South Kingstown High School from 2000 to 2004 and went on to be a four-year starter at Nichols College, where she was a captain in her senior season. Transitioning from the floor to the sidelines, Kelly helped out at her alma mater and coached at the youth level before joining the Prout program. Her familiarity with the Crusaders, particularly those who she coached at the junior varsity level, should make for another smooth transition.

“I’ve coached them for the last three years on JV so I think that’s definitely a positive,” Kelly said. “They’ve worked super hard for me in the JV program. I think it’ll be a good dynamic going forward.”

Prout went 3-14 last season, struggling to find traction against a tough Division II slate. Six players are set to graduate, leaving some big holes. Kelly is hoping younger players and a large incoming freshman class can form a new foundation. Prout will be looking for its first winning season since 2016-17.

“I would like to see us build,” Kelly said. “After this year, we’re losing six seniors, so it’s definitely going to be a rebuilding process. I have about 12 incoming freshmen, which is awesome. Our goal will be to make it to playoffs and have a successful season. I want to implement some new things and see how we do. I think we’ll be successful this year.”

Kelly envisions a similar style of play to what the Crusaders are used to, with a few tweaks.

“Definitely some similarities,” Kelly said. “I liked a lot of John’s plays. The only thing I think we’ll switch up a little bit is some of the defense – probably some more pressing.”

The cancellation of school due to the coronavirus pandemic has made taking over a little tricky, but Kelly is making it work and hoping to see her Crusaders on the court sooner rather than later.

“We’re going to set up some Zoom meetings, just to see them and see how they’re doing,” Kelly said. “I’ve been able to send emails to the returning players and I’ll be reaching out to the incoming freshmen to introduce myself. As soon as this all lifts, hopefully we’ll be able to do summer league for at least a few weeks.”

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