By Hannah Bateman
From being a four-year letter winner and three-year starter on the Mississippi State University’s women’s basketball team to the youngest coach in the SEC in 2012, Rebecca Kates, who earned her bachelor’s degree in communication with an emphasis in broadcasting and public relations in 2005, has continually excelled in her basketball career since leaving Mississippi State.
Kates’ coaching career started right after leaving MSU. In 2005, she served as the director of operations for Women's Basketball at Rice University in Houston, Texas.
After leaving Rice University, she served as the assistant women’s basketball coach at The University of Tulsa in Tulsa, Oklahoma, then Rice University in Houston, Texas, and then The University of Mississippi in Oxford, Mississippi respectively. She is currently the recruiting coordinator and assistant coach at Oklahoma State University in Stillwater, Oklahoma.
As for her experience as an MSU Bulldog on the court, she exceled in her four years here where she helped the Bulldogs advance to the NCAA second round in 2002 and 2003 along with a Women’s National Invitation Tournament appearance in 2005.
Kates is seventh all-time in games played at MSU (121) and as a senior was a part of the longest win streak by a Mississippi State team (12 games) and a team captain. She made 107 three-pointers in 121 games putting her tenth all time for career attempts and makes for three-point field goals made. Kates was also on the ALL SEC Community Service Team in 2003, 2004, and 2005.
Not only did she excel on the basketball court, Kates excelled in the classroom. She was on the honor roll at MSU every semester, and finished with a 3.7 GPA. Her favorite faculty member and mentor is Karyn Brown, an instructor in the Department of Communication. Brown also was Kates’ academic advisor and women’s basketball mentor during her four years at MSU.
“She was the epitome of a professor who went above and beyond for her students and for a small-town girl 10 hours away from home. Karyn and her husband, Michael, took me in as their own immediately,” said Kates. “Karyn not only made sure I was staying on track in the class room and taking the right classes to earn my degree, but she was my mentor and mom ‘away’ from home.”
Some of Kates’ fondest memories in college were made in the Brown’s home where she recalls the night before Halloween carving pumpkins, getting a home cooked meal, and “whaling horrible Brittney Spears and Cindy Lauper songs on [Karyn’s] karaoke machine!”
The College of Arts and Sciences at MSU helped prepare Kates for her career in basketball.
“As a college basketball coach, I get asked by recruits' parents often what my major was? It's interesting because you may not think that broadcasting and public relations has anything to do with coaching basketball, but it's the complete opposite of that! I use my degree every single day,” said Kates.
When asked what advice she would offer prospective and current students, Kates encourages students to get involved and to step out of their comfort zones. Kates did so by participating in the Miss MSU pageant her senior year as the only athlete to compete.
“I met a whole new group of friends my senior year just by stepping outside of my comfort zone,” said Kates. “You will expand your network of friends and lifelong connections. You might just discover a new passion and appreciation for other students’ crafts.”
She also adds to her advice by encouraging students to go to class and to utilize professors. Kates states, “Believe it or not, they really like when you ask questions or set up an office meeting after class. It will do nothing but help improve your grade just by showing effort and that you care about earning your degree. At MSU, they are so much more than teachers!”
Her favorite tradition at MSU is “hands down…the Cowbells!”
Kates recently got engaged in Maui to ten-year NBA player and Abstract Expressionist Artist, Desmond Mason. The two are planning to wed in Cabo San Lucas Mexico this winter.