Talley Takes Her Shot at Coaching Women’s Basketball

College of DuPage’s new head women’s basketball coach is looking to leave her mark while battling breast cancer.


Claire Valenti, Sports Writer

As the College of DuPage women’s basketball team tears up the court, there’s a driving force emitting positive energy to everyone around her. Abby Talley became the head women’s basketball coach this May. With the excitement of becoming the new coach and being able to do what she loves, she has been battling breast cancer since the January prior to her recruitment.

“I have always wanted to be a coach; given the circumstances, I kind of ruled it out,” Talley said. “An opportunity presented itself, I went for it, and I got it.”

Along with being a coach, Talley is also a mother to an 18-month-old daughter. If she isn’t spending time with her, she’s either undergoing radiation, at a doctor’s appointment or at the gym coaching her team. Talley said the people around her in the Athletics Department have helped her adjust to being the head coach and supported her whenever she needs.

“Ryan Kaiser, our athletic director, has been phenomenal,” Talley said. “He’s extremely accommodating as well as the Assistant Athletic Director Rich Dawkins. If I need anything, they’re willing to do it, like scouting a game for me [if] I’m exhausted from a doctor’s appointment, reaching out to somebody or handling anything that I’m unable to do. They make sure I have everything I need so when I come in I can just worry about basketball; it’s the whole Athletics Department in general. Everyone around at COD has been extremely supportive.”

Athletic Director Ryan Kaiser said Talley and himself have grown connected through similar experiences. He described her as being a tremendous fit for COD and the women’s basketball team. He also said Talley is a fighter on both the court and in the way she lives her life.

“God put [Talley] in my path, and I’m just grateful that she’s here,” Kaiser said. “She’s working and coaching those kids hard. Although we lost our first game, she definitely has changed the culture of what we’re doing, and it’s really exciting to see her put her own stamp on this thing. I’m just really excited for her and excited to see where she takes the program.”

In the time that he’s known her, Kaiser said the thing that inspires him most about Talley is the way she chooses to fight in her daily life.

“There’s a smile on her face and a song in her heart every single day; even if she were to have a bad day, you wouldn’t know it on the outside. She wants to live out her passion, which is coaching women’s basketball at the collegiate level, and is pouring herself into those kids. If she’s willing to do that given the circumstances she’s been given at the very least I can stand in tandem with her and support her,” Kaiser said.

Sophomore forward Katlyn Allen describes her relationship with Talley as one where she’s able to both laugh with her and take her seriously. Allen said she’s a great help and someone she can go to for advice of any kind.

“As a player, without even knowing she has breast cancer, I would still think she’s the strongest person in the world; the radiation, chemo or whatever she’s going through, you just wouldn’t know it’s affecting her,” Allen said. “Anything that I’m going through, it just inspires me to push through. It forces me to look at life differently and how strong she is. She’s such a bright light, and it inspires me to sometimes just take a breath and push through the things I’m going through because it could be worse.”

Athletic Advisor Susan Brodie described Talley as unreal, energetic and super motivating; Talley said a lot of her energy feeds from the people around her.

“If I didn’t have the constant support I did from my family, the staff at COD or the girls, it would be a different story. Because of them, I’m able to keep it all together and build off that,” Talley said.

As the new women’s coach, Talley is hoping to put women’s basketball back on the map at COD.

“I understand it might be years down the road, but every year going forward we’re striving to do better; we are striving to move forward. We’re not just changing the team; we’re changing the program. Everything has been wiped clean, but we are going forward. The girls have really bought in, and they’ve been doing really well,” Talley said.

Talley coaches the Chaparrals (0-2) in their third game of the season against the Waubonsee Community College Chiefs at 5 p.m. on Nov. 8 at COD.