It's been a long trip from tiny Outlook to Robin Selvig's arrival as one of the country's greatest college women's basketball coaches.
But while fighting back tears Thursday in his retirement news conference at the University of Montana Adams Center, it wasn't so much the end or the gaudy record that had a roomful of onlookers hanging on his words. It was the emotion, small-town sincerity and self-effacing sense of humor that Treasure Staters have come to know so well in Selvig's 38 years guiding the Lady Griz.
"I'm a crier, so expect it," he said. "I couldn't get through a 'Little House on the Prairie' episode when I was younger.
"For years now, on game days I (had) a routine,'' Selvig said. He tried to be calm, tried to relax by heading to his office for prep time before the game. The idea was to remind himself that "it's just a game and don't go crazy.''
And every time, the routine failed. "You can see how well that worked for me,'' Selvig said. "I've never been able to help it. It's like a cattle prod. As soon as the ball goes up, (it's) just something I wasn't able to control."
Selvig's fiery bench persona helped make him a winner 865 times at Montana. He ranks seventh on the all-time list of NCAA Division I women's coaches.
By his own admission, some of that fire was missing last in March at the conclusion of the 2015-16 campaign. Selvig didn't hide it when he went in for his annual post-season meeting with UM athletic director Kent Haslam.
"I could sense a little different Robin," Haslam recalled. "I just put it off to the long trips to Greeley and Grand Forks and the tournament in Reno.
"I could sense there was a little different approach this year but wanted to be respectful of the timing for him.''
Haslam said many have pointed out that the timing of Selvig's departure is not good. His response: "It's never a good time to lose Robin Selvig."
Haslam learned for sure that Selvig was leaving on Monday.
"After every year you're feeling a little bit like, uh, man, you need to get a break," Selvig said. "There's not as many breaks anymore. I'm telling you. Recruiting is nonstop.
"... I don't feel right feeling like I can't go down there fired up every day like they deserve. I gotta be there. I just started feeling like if I don't have that, it's somebody else's turn."
Summer recruiting, in particular, had lost its allure for Selvig.
"I'd see the girls and just tell myself, I don't want to do this," he offered. "I didn't go recruiting in July. I've been sitting in gyms in July for a lot of years. It felt like I didn't want to do it. I wasn't getting pumped."
Montana is left with a gaping hole in its athletic department. Haslam wants to move quickly, making a head coach hire by the start of the school year.
"I would be crazy not to look internally," he said. "Certainly for me not to take a strong hard look at Shannon (Schweyen), I'd be foolish not to do so."
Schweyen is the most prolific scorer in Lady Griz history and has been Selvig's assistant coach for 24-plus years. While on a recruiting trip in California this week, she confirmed she's interested in the head coaching job but reluctant to comment further out of respect to Haslam and the process.
"I think I told Kent (in March) that if this does happen," Selvig said, referring to his retirement, "it would sure be nice if Trish (Duce) or Shannon ended up doing it. They've been in the program a long time."
Duce is out of coaching after accepting a grant-funded position at UM in the field of computer science. That means the new head coach will need to find a full-time assistant in quick order to join Schweyen and Sonya Stokken, who is also on the road recruiting as a full-time employee.
If Schweyen is hired, she will need to find two assistants. The good news: there are no budget cuts in the works for Lady Griz basketball, Haslam confirmed Thursday.
Selvig's successor will have big shoes to fill. Recruiting, like the Big Sky Conference women's basketball race, has become more competitive than ever.
Selvig the human being will be just as hard to replace.
"When I came here in 2012, it was a rough time, no doubt about it, tumultuous, lots going on," Haslam offered. "I can tell you it was Robin that was that steady force.
"I was intimidated by him at first, then I got to know him and I'm not intimidated as much. He gave you that confidence that everything would be OK. It gave me a glimpse into maybe what it was like to play for him."
Selvig has heard from a lot of fans this week, some of whom were concerned for his health. He killed that rumor on Thursday.
"I'm not sick," he said. "I did spend New Year's Eve in the hospital (with a bladder infection,) which is no big deal except we had a game in the afternoon the next day.
"I haven't taken many sick days," he said.
Haslam stressed at the start of Thursday's news conference that it didn't mark the end of Selvig.
"Hey, this isn't a funeral," he quipped. "I want to make sure everyone knows that. This is a day we knew would eventually come. A day we certainly didn't look forward to, but I'm happy for Robin and (wife) Janie.
"I couldn't be more honored than to have worked with Robin. We could talk forever about his legacy. His impact will go on for decades to come."
Selvig is looking forward to watching the Lady Griz from a spot in the upper deck at Dahlberg Arena.
Regardless of who is named head coach, Montana post Alycia Sims says the Lady Griz will enter the 2016-17 season with the same lofty expectations.
"Although I'm sure there will be new things thrown our way, I think it is important that we realize we are still the same team with the same mentality," said the senior-to-be from Stevensville. "It's our duty as players to uphold the Lady Griz tradition Rob has developed and to embrace the new changes that may come."
Haslam noted that plans will be made to honor Selvig for his career.
"They've given me a lot of good send-offs in here," Selvig said. "I've been blessed already.
"Now I hope to re-connect with the ex-Lady Griz a little more and we can reminisce and they can tell me how they were a little better than they were and I can tell them how much nicer I was than they thought. That's pretty good stuff for me."