Basketball Coach Stresses Strong Fundamentals, Team Defense, Drive to Improve

Kate Mullen, head women’s basketball coach, stands outside the Freeman Athletic Center. She has coached Wesleyan athletes for 14 years.
Posted 02/01/06
Q: When did you become the head women’s basketball coach at Wesleyan?

A: The 1992-93 year was my first year at Wesleyan.

Q: What is your record so far this year?

A: As of Jan. 30, we are 13-5 overall and tied with Bates for first place in the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) with a 5-1 conference record,

Q: In the last three seasons, you’ve had an exceptional 63-13 record. And in 2004-05, you led the team to the program’s best record of 22-5. What did this mean for Wesleyan?

A: One team’s success can help set the tone and standard for other teams. I believe our success helped showcase Wesleyan Athletics both on and off campus. If you attended our National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) First Round game here last March, you experienced a terrific atmosphere of excitement and positive energy.

Q: In 2002-03, you were voted by your conference peers as the NESCAC coach of the year. That must have been a great honor. What was your reaction?

A: The acknowledgement of our basketball staff’s efforts by my coaching colleagues was what really made the award special.

Q: What lessons do you stress in your coaching? What do you expect out of your players mentally and physically?

A: Strong fundamentals, team defense, and striving to improve are important parts of the program. We teach everyday in practice and look for student-athletes who want to get better. A high level of fitness and mental toughness are stressed because that is what builds and maintains confidence and success over the long haul.

Q: Who are your key players this year?

A: As usual, we rely on our seniors for their leadership, talent and desire to help meet our goals for the season. Meg Robinson ‘06, Ashley Mastrangelo ‘06 and Hannah Stubbs ‘06 have brought this group a long way this season, and we have our most important basketball ahead of us.

Q: Where did you grow up, and when did you begin playing ball? Did you play other sports?

A: I’m from Connecticut originally and began playing basketball in elementary school. I played field hockey and softball in high school and college, but basketball was my passion.

Q: Where did you attend college? What did you major in, and what sports did you play in college?

A: I attended Central Connecticut State University for physical education and to play basketball for Professor Brenda Reilly. I also played field hockey and softball in college.

Q: Did you always want to become a full-time coach?

A: Looking back, ninth grade seemed to be the year I decided I wasn’t going to focus on music and “lead the band,” but instead I would go towards athletics and coaching.

Q: Prior to Wesleyan, where did you coach? Was your team competing against Wesleyan?

A: Prior to Wesleyan I was the head women’s basketball coach and associate athletic director at Elms College, a small Catholic Women’s College in Western Massachusetts. I became familiar with Wesleyan when we began playing them. When my current position was posted, I felt strongly that I would be a good match for Wesleyan and vise versa. Fourteen years have gone by very quickly and my appreciation and respect for the Wesleyan community continues to grow.

Q: You’ve been a lecturer at various basketball camps. What topics do you speak on and messages do you hope to get through?

A: Depending on the age of the campers, I lecture on a variety of topics. I choose skills like defense and rebounding that anyone can improve on. Also, I like to stress the fun and teamwork found in our sport. Often, I end a lecture with giving the campers two words that I guarantee will improve their game: The words are, “Yes, Coach!” I have them practice those words with energy and enthusiasm.

Q: As an adjunct professor of physical education, what sports-related classes do you teach at Wesleyan?

A: I currently teach two sections of Introduction to Strength Training.

Q: Tell me about the Fundamental Basketball Camp, of which you are co-owner.

A: FBC is for girls from fifth grade through to entering your senior year of high school. We offer a great mix of skill sessions, games, drill work, lectures and fun! Our staff is made up of experienced coaches and our players from Wesleyan, which is an added appeal to the campers. Anyone interested should contact me at 860-685-2888 for any questions.

Q: Aside from sports, what are your hobbies?

A: I enjoy hiking, fitness, reading and playing the flute.

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor