Kelly Carruthers and Ruth Sinn later this month will be reunited, but in a new role. Sinn, the University of St. Thomas women’s basketball coach, once coached Kelly Britt (Carruthers’ maiden name) when the two were at Apple Valley High School during the mid-1990s.
Carruthers attended Apple Valley from 1992-1996, then the University of Colorado-Colorado Springs on a basketball scholarship (1996-2000). Sinn later left Apple Valley after 16 seasons for St. Thomas in 2005 and just completed her 14th season at her alma mater.
Carruthers, now the head girls’ basketball coach at Arlington (Texas) James Bowie High School, and Sinn both were named in April as 2019 USA Women’s U16 National Team assistant coaches along with Mark Campbell, the head coach at Division II Union University, who was selected as head coach.
It is Sinn and Campbell’s first USA Basketball selection, and the second for Carruthers, who was a court coach for the 2015 USA Women’s U16 National Team trials.
“This trio of coaches has compiled impressive records of success at their schools,” USA Basketball Women’s National Team Director Carol Callan said in a press release. “This staff is the right group to go to Chile,” where the team will compete in the FIBA Americas tournament June 16-22 for a spot in the 2020 FIBA U17 World Cup.
The two USA assistants recently talked to the MSR in separate phone interviews. Both women said that they are excited to be chosen, but Carruthers noted that coaching alongside each other will be even better.
Sinn joked, “She always calls me Miss Sinn. I said, ‘Kelly, we are doing this together. You can’t keep calling [me] Miss Sinn. You have to call me Coach or Ruth.’
“Every time she comes to Minnesota, we always connect,” Sinn added. “[When] she decided to go into coaching, it was so fantastic to me. Kelly is exactly where she needs to be. She is a great role model.”
“She was the reason why I got into coaching,” Carruthers said of Sinn, also her mentor. “I’ve kept in contact with her throughout my coaching career the past 17 years.
“When I first moved out here [to Texas] in 2000, I wanted to work with kids but didn’t know in which way,” Carruthers recalled of her early career as a newlywed after graduation from college. While working as a social worker at a Dallas high school, she was asked to help with the school’s basketball team, which prompted her to go back to college and get a master’s degree in education.
Carruthers’ first coaching job was at an Arlington junior high school; then she was hired at her current school in 2006 by former coach Wanda Talton. “It was like a dream come true,” the coach continued. “It was what I wanted to do and where I wanted to be.”
After Carruthers’ two seasons as freshman coach and three more as JV coach and varsity assistant, Talton said she wanted her to succeed her as she was planning to retire. “She felt I was ready.”
Since 2011, Carruthers has a .811 winning percentage (228-53), has been a seven-time district coach of the year, and won seven straight district titles in eight seasons. More importantly, she wants to provide the right example for her players. “I have an all-Black team. We have dealt with teams calling my kids out of their names because of the color of their skin. We try to do a real good job preparing them for that and being successful. It’s not just about basketball.”
Both Carruthers and Sinn will be conducting USA tryouts in Colorado Springs May 23-27, then training camp for the 12-player team June 5-15.
“I wouldn’t be where I am if it wasn’t for her,” Coach Carruthers said of Coach Sinn.
Charles Hallman is a contributing reporter and award-winning sports columnist at the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder.