Thursday marked the final day of Connie Skogrand’s teaching career. But as a fixture of Idaho women’s sports for the past 40 years, she isn’t ready to say she’s done coaching just yet.
Instead, Skogrand described her decision to step down as Mountain View’s girls basketball coach this spring as a break, not a conclusion. She said she still wants to coach, but she needed to step away to start drawing from the state retirement program.
State pension rules require her to separate from Mountain View fully until at least Dec. 1, well into the girls basketball season, she said.
“Who’s to say if I come back?” said Skogrand, 60. “I’m leaving the door open, absolutely, to coaching. I loved the connections with the kids. That’s what kept me going for so long. That’s going to be the tough part right there, not working with kids every day.”
Skogrand added that she has no immediate plans to return to the sideline, though. For now, she plans to spend the summer traveling, starting with an Alaskan cruise. She’ll chase some new interests, including trying her hand at pickleball. And she plans to help Mountain View’s new coach, LaCale Pringle, while being in the background.
“I’m just going to take this year off, try some other things in my life and figure out whether or not if there’s the right place, the right school for me to come back to,” Skogrand said.
“I’ll just have to kind of wait and see. I do need a break with everything, especially with COVID. That’s the teaching part of it. Things changed quite a bit to a point that it was not enjoyable anymore.”
Skogrand founded the girls basketball program at Mountain View when it opened in 2003-04, building it into a perennial state power. She led the Mavericks to four state championships, five district titles and 14 state tournament appearances in 19 seasons, compiling a 316-158 (.667) record at the school.
She also went 115-75 (.605) and made the state tournament three times in eight seasons at Meridian. Add in a 60-38 record in Dayton, Nevada, to start her career, and she holds a career varsity basketball record of 491-271 (.644).
But her success wasn’t limited to basketball. She also won a pair of district titles and a state runner-up trophy with Borah softball, she led Meridian softball to a district title, and she coached volleyball and golf, too.
Skogrand said some of her career highlights include coaching her daughter, Ali, and her first district and state titles. But her favorite memories stem from the relationships she’s built with players during 37 years as a coach and teacher.
“Most of the time, it’s when my former athletes make contact with me, or it might be a former student I see at the restaurant or the grocery store,” Skogrand said. “When they tell me I made an impact, I feel really proud of what I’ve accomplished.”
Skogrand graduated from Borah in 1980 as a multisport star, winning the state basketball player of the year award as a senior under her maiden name, Connie Sandland. She then played four years at Boise State, where she still ranks among the career leaders in points (10th), rebounds (10th), assists (18th), steals (ninth) and blocked shots (16th).
She left for Nevada as a 22-year-old for her first job, where she coached volleyball, basketball and softball all at the same time, laying the foundation for a lifetime as a coach and mentor.
Her 37 years as a coach saw women’s sports explode from a niche to the mainstream. Generations of players benefited from her experience, instruction and wealth of knowledge.
“She’s had a ton of success,” Boise girls basketball coach Kim Brydges said. “I don’t know how many state championships she’s won or how many banners she’s hung. But more importantly, she left a positive mark on girls basketball in the area.”
Skogrand admits she hasn’t made too many plans for her retirement, beyond packing for her cruise and cleaning out two filing cabinets full of old notes. After a lifetime ruled by the demands of a sports calendar, she’s taking the days as they come.
“I’m just going to enjoy some free time and enjoy some traveling this summer as much as I can,” Skogrand said. “And then, go from there.”
This story was originally published June 4, 2022 4:00 AM.