Kate Grunauer Ferguson ’06 entered Marist in 2002-the year the school went coed. She wanted to be a part of something special and be a part of the major milestones of the first coed class. And that she was. In only her freshman, Kate and her teammates made up Marist’s first varsity girls’ basketball team. She says she wasn’t scared because she and her teammates didn’t know any better. “We expected to compete, and we expected to win. We became leaders of the program before we knew how to be leaders. We jumped right into the roles,” she explained.
Kate credits Coach Mary Pat Connolly with having confidence in the group from the very beginning. “She pushed us as a normal varsity team would be pushed,” Kate said. “She did not make excuses for us or look at us and say ‘you’re just freshmen’.” That push paid off, as Kate and her teammates won regional titles in 2004, 2005, and 2006 and had a 65-19 record for their four years.
A small forward, Kate scored 976 points during her time at Marist, placing her in seventh in program history. She drained 85 three-point shots along the way, placing her fourth in the program. Kate served Marist’s team as a captain, and received East Suburban Catholic Conference honors in 2005 and 2006.
Kate has a long list of memories from her time competing for Marist, from drills at practice and bus trips to away games to winning and losing big games. The memories are special because of her teammates, including fellow 2006 graduates and Marist Hall of Fame members Bridget Bentley and Maureen Downs. “These moments positively affected my life and make up much of who I am today.”
“The greatest lessons I took from Marist High School and my coaches were to take pride in your school, the importance of discipline, the idea that hard work pays off and the love for the game,” she explained. Having come to coach for Marist’s program for five years, Kate also remembers what it’s like to be in the players’ shoes: the fun of playing with teammates and the desire to get better. “I love learning from the other coaches and I love teaching young girls the sport of basketball and passing on the pride I have for Marist,” Kate explained. “I enjoyed being back at Marist because it feels like home to me. I still get the same feelings I did as a player when we play in big games or against rival teams.”
After Marist, Kate went on to play for four years at Lake Forest College in Lake Forest, Ill. In 2011 and 2012, her team was ranked in the Top 20 in the nation for NCAA Division III. Kate received a bachelor’s degree in business and communications, and went on to earn her master’s degree in sports administration from Canisius College, in Buffalo, NY. Following college, I coached for Marist girls’ basketball program for 5 years. Kate married Mike Ferguson in August of 2016, and works for Sedgwick, CMS as a senior disability specialist.
Nominated by Coach Mary Pat Connolly
Back to event homepage