Geneseo graduate Katherine Menendez is making a name for herself in the coaching ranks as she continues to do what she loves.

Geneseo graduate Katherine Menendez is making a name for herself in the coaching ranks as she continues to do what she loves.

Menendez recently accepted a new position as an assistant coach with the women’s basketball team at Division I Colgate University in Hamilton, N.Y.

She had spent the last four years at Division III Emory University in Atlanta, Ga., as an assistant and prior to that was and assistant coach for two years at Division III Illinois Wesleyan.

“I wasn’t looking (for a new job) because Emory was such an amazing Division III situation,” said Menendez. “I knew the head coach at Colgate, and she approached me and asked if I would be interested. I knew I would love working with her and once I met other people at Colgate, I knew it was a good place.

“It is exciting to move and my first impression of Hamilton is it is a lot like Geneseo. You know the people in town. It is nice to get back to a smaller community.”

Menendez said she feels her time at Emory prepared her to make the switch from Division III to Division I basketball.

At Colgate, aside from her assistant coaching role, Menendez also be recruiting for the team.

“Recruiting is one thing head coach Nicci Hays Fort noticed as one of my strengths,” she said. “I feel passionate about the program and school. I meet with girls and parents and try to help them find the right fit.

“Recruiting is non stop and I am always interacting with prospective players to tell them what the team is about. I am still trying to wrap my head around everything, but we do what we have to do to get the players we want.”

After four years at Emory, Menendez said the hardest part about leaving to take on this new opportunity was leaving the comfort of knowing she was coaching at a high level and going into the unknown with a new staff and coworkers.

“My boss at Emory was incredibly supportive (of my move), and I was incredibly prepared there,” she said. “She knew my goal was to be a head coach some day and knew this was a step in the right direction.”

Menendez started her new job at Colgate on May 22.

“I am looking forward to helping the girls on the team achieve what they want to achieve, work with them on the court and help bring them in great teammates,” she said. “I also am looking forward to working with a head coach who is well respected, cares about her team and staff and knows her craft. I am excited to see the whole process at a new place and how I can help.

“I am excited about the whole challenge of learning a new system and the opportunity of coming into a program with good people and help them get to where they want to be academically, basketball wise and as young ladies.

“Sometimes it is easy to get caught up in the Xs and Os, but at the end of the day we love the game of basketball and work together to get better. I am doing what I love.”

Menendez said the more she grows in the profession she realizes there is no rush to be a head coach. She wants to learn more so when the opportunity is there to have her own program she is ready.

“The steps I have taken make sense and I feel really blessed,” she said. “I am happy.”

In her new role, Menendez hopes she brings energy, positivity, hard work and the spirit of doing whatever it takes to get the program where it needs to be.

“My strength in recruiting is I genuinely care about the kids, that they find the right fit for them and become confident and sure about their decision,” said Menendez. “Another strength is I work very hard and have a passion for the game. I try to enjoy what I am doing, make the atmosphere that is one you want to be around and help continue to make this team a place people want to come to.”

Menendez said she is happy because she is doing what she wants to do and is content knowing it is process.

“I am fortunate to be with good people and to work in this sport,” she said. “It is an awesome opportunity.

“I am really thankful to be at Colgate and to work with someone like Nicci, who is passionate about what she does not just basketball, but helps the girls get to where they want to be in life. She has high expectations, but will be there for them at the end of the day. That is what I want to continue to be a part of.”

Menendez, a 2004 graduate of J.D. Darnall High School, is the daughter of Bill and Dee Menendez of Geneseo.

She graduated from North Central College with a bachelor degree in English and sports management in 2008 where she was a member of the women’s basketball team and received her master’s in sports management from Illinois State University in 2010.