Leaving behind the program he nurtured from the beginning, and the players who are still a part of it, wasn’t an easy thing for Jake Kates. But he is still eager about the opportunity ahead.
Kates last week announced his resignation after 15 seasons as the boys basketball coach at Summit Christian Academy, the only one the school has ever had, to take the same position at William Chrisman High School in Independence. And in the days since he announced his decision, Kate’s emotions have ranged from the agony of saying goodbye to the joy of saying hello.
“I’m always going to be tied to that program,” Kates said. “I’m always going to have a big part of my heart for SCA basketball. But it was time to take this opportunity on.”
Kates leaves behind a program he started when he first came to SCA as the school’s athletic director in 2002. In that time the Eagles have gone 252-120, reached the Class 3 state tournament and made two other quarterfinal appearances. His final team went 19-7 and finished undefeated in Crossroads Conference play.
Breaking the news to that team, Kates said, wasn’t easy, especially when he thought about the juniors he wouldn’t be around to coach as seniors.
“That was the hardest thing I have ever done,” Kates said. “For four or five days, I was off-and-on again crying.”
The sorrow turned to joy the next day when Kates met with his new team at William Chrisman. Chrisman finished 6-18 last year and was 4-22 the season before, but Kates said he was excited about the potential he saw in his new players. He isn’t intimidated by the jump from Class 3 to Class 5, because his SCA teams often played against and beat bigger schools.
“I think these kids are very athletic, a great group of kids,” Kates said. “I think there are going to be trials; there will be hurdles to jump, but once the buy-in is there, I think with the players that we have we can do some great things.”
SCA athletic director Lance Quessenberry said the school will immediately begin the search for a new coach. Quessenberry succeeded Kates as the school’s athletic director after Kates stepped down in 2015 to spend more time with his family and start a business. In his 13 years as AD, Kates had a hand in starting six new sports at SCA, including football in 2012.
“The positive image of SCA athletics in this area is due in large part to the time, effort, and vision of Coach Kates,” Quessenberry said. “His handprint will always be on our athletic department and his time here will continue to have a positive influence in the future.”