Fever ballkid goes to London

By Ericka Sanders | Sept. 2, 2009
Keesha Tate is a pretty unassuming young lady.

She’s soft spoken, approachable and sweet. She adores her grandparents and learns by watching and listening, not talking.

At 23, Tate has been given an awesome opportunity she says is too good to pass up. Next week, one of the Indiana Fever’s head ballkids is heading to Leeds, England to play basketball. After four years of playing point guard at IUPUI and graduating with a degree in sports management, Tate said she wasn’t ready to let basketball go. At Leeds Metropolitan University she will be entering the school's two year Master’s program as well studying sports business management.

“It’s a great opportunity,” said Tate, who originally joined the Fever ballkids program after attending camps and clinics led by Tamika Catchings when she was in high school. “When you decide you want to further (your education) and you’re able to get it done for free as well as play basketball, it’s a no-brainer,” she said.

Tate, who is the all-time assist leader at IUPUI, owes a huge thank you to IUPUI coach Shann Hart who brought the idea to her after being contacted by Leeds head coach James Bambury. While Tate will be attending classes and playing basketball similar to her time spent at IUPUI, the difference is the competition, which she says will prepare her if she decides to play pro overseas.

“We will be playing in the top women’s league in the United Kingdom,” she said. “It will give me experience and I look at it as an opportunity to develop my game because I do eventually want to play in the Euro League. I will get exposure over there and develop my game mentally and physically.”

Although her petite frame may not scream tough, one of the most important things Tate says she has learned from the nine years she has been working with the Fever is mental toughness. Her biggest cheerleader is Tamika Catchings.

“She’s kind of taken me under her wing since I was 14 and I’ve learned a lot from her,” said Tate. “She’s taught me that I really have to stay on top of my game.”

Catchings, who has had mentors along her basketball journey, says it was important for her to mentor Tate about how to handle herself off the court as well as on it.

“It’s really about being a great person overall,” she said. “Keesha started out in our camps and graduated to being a helper in our camp, and then a mentor in our other programs. It’s all about her growing up and taking opportunities. I’m excited for her going over there.”

Obviously Leeds, England is not Chicago where Tate can hop in her car if home sickness overwhelms her. Though she chose IUPUI after graduating from Tech High School because she could stay close to her grandparents who raised her, she believes the adjustment will not be difficult.

“I’m 23 and I see it as it’s now or never,” she said. “I feel like it’s time for me to spread my wings because I’m getting older and opportunities like this do not come every day. Of course the culture is going to be different, but it’s not going to be too much of an adjustment. I plan on going over there to play basketball, get my degree and go from there.”