CALDWELL, Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) Friends for more than a decade, now colleagues once again.
From their short time together at the College of Southern Idaho, to AAU camps and now the College of Idaho, Colby Blaine and Shelby Lindley are reunited and ready to take on the NAIA Division II National Championships together.
The College of Idaho just won its third straight Cascade Conference Championship in front of a packed house.
Blaine exclaimed, "we have the best fans in the country." "Every year for the past five years, we've led the country or been second in attendance at the NAIA level. To be able to play home games, our gym is extremely loud. We have 1,000 students on campus, but we have about 1,350 fans per game, then five or six nights a year, we’re sold out at 2,300."
The college boasts 12 Idaho players on the roster which helps with attendance.
Blaine stated, "so we have a lot of the local community coming out to support them."
This week's national tournament marks the fourth time for Blaine, who has transitioned from an assistant coach, to the head coaching role.
"We're going in as the fifth ranked team in the country, so we have the first No. 2 seed," Blaine added.
But assistant coach Shelby Lindley's first. Now he's been to Hutchinson Kansas with CSI, but Sioux Falls will be a new adventure.
Lindley said, "that's the big difference between junior college and here." "We have juniors and seniors to teach our freshmen and sophomores about doing it the right way...It's just the leadership factor, it's just the maturity of the 20 and 21 year-olds."
On working at the junior college level, Blaine said, "I loved my time at CSI, the relationships you build with the athletes there was incredible." "They lean on you a lot more to help guide you, how do I study, how do I operate on a daily basis. You get really close with them, I really enjoyed that at CSI. I was in study hall every night, teaching them how to write papers, get a math tutor."
He found himself bored just a couple of months afer taking the position at C of I.
"I remember in November I was bored, wondering where they could be. They’re at the library, meeting with a professor, at study hall, but both places are awesome to work at."
The Yotes are coming off a Final Four appearance and with that, brings plenty of confidence.
Blaine explained they have "eight players back, seven of them played major minutes for us. So there's really a lot of confidence this year."
Joining a winning program like C of I was a no-brainer for Lindley who left his athletic director position at Emmett High School in 2018.
"I met with Coach Blaine at my house on a Monday and didn't even hesitate to tell him I was all in," Lindley said. "To tell the people of Emmett, the kids, my principal, it was tough."
"Being my assistant, he's done a great job and taken our program to a whole new level," Blaine added.
"Does it even feel like work?"
"We laugh and joke far too much, but when we get down on the court, we're serious. It's great to have that interaction with one another," Lindley exclaimed.
The College of Idaho opens with Voorhees University out of South Carolina on Thursday at 10:15 a.m. You can watch the game on NAIA TV.