Oct. 4, 2002
By Josh Griffin
The Santa Clara
In his final season at the helm of the University of Arizona women's cross country team, head coach Dave Murray led his squad to a fourth place finish in the NCAA Championships. Murray spent 35 years leading the Wildcats, starting as the men's head cross country coach, and finishing as the head coach of four programs - men's and women's track and field and men's and women's cross country.
Also leaving Arizona after her third year of eligibility was graduating senior Kim Bates, who ran fourth on the Wildcats' NCAA team. Arizona's loss was Santa Clara's gain, as Bates, now a first year student in the Counseling Psychology Master's Program at Santa Clara, is spending her final year of collegiate eligibility leading the Bronco women's cross country team.
Despite an offer from the University of Arizona to stay another year and keep her scholarship, Bates chose to move on.
"They made an offer for me to stay and keep my scholarship, but I was done with classes, unless I wanted to add a new minor. I wasn't interested in adding a minor, and I knew I wanted to go to graduate school, so I decided to leave."
Another factor in her decision to leave Arizona was the resignation of Murray, who is a living legend among cross country and track coaches.
According to Bates however, running for the Broncos was a spur-of-the-moment decision.
"I applied to Santa Clara for graduate school, and it didn't even dawn on me," recalls Bates. "Then I contacted [head coach] Tom Service, and he said it was okay."
Bates joins a team that won the West Coast Conference Championship for the first time in Santa Clara history last year under Tom Service. Returning from that team are All-WCC performers sophomore Robin Bell (first team), junior Milena Basile (honorable mention) and sophomore Katie Hansen (honorable mention). Bell added WCC Freshman of the Year honors to her first team all-league status. Bates says the team has aspirations of meeting last year's achievements.
"I know the team won the WCC last year, and everyone wants to win again to defend the title," says Bates.
Teammates are confident that Bates will help the title defense. As one of the best runners from last year's Arizona team, Bates will be a huge asset in the championship meets this season.
"Portland has two strong top runners, and Kim will match up well with them," says Basile.
Bates is not shy about her goals as an individual.
"Individually, I am focused on winning the West Coast Conference Championship meet," says Bates.
Six weeks into the cross country training season, Bates has few regrets and seems to be enjoying the Santa Clara atmosphere.
"I had never really spent much time in Northern California, but it is beautiful up here," notes Bates. "And all the people that I've met here so far are very friendly."
She is also happy to be running for Santa Clara in spite of the differences she sees between the styles of the program.
"I really like Tom [Service]," says Bates. "He has a much more laidback attitude than Coach Murray did at Arizona. He really does a good job of communicating and listening to the girls. I also really get along with my teammates very well."
Bates has had to overcome one notable setback this year. As a graduate student, she takes most of her classes at night, making it difficult for her to practice with the team. In fact, she only practices with the team on Tuesday mornings and weekends. The other days of the week, she is responsible for practicing on her own in the mornings.
"The hardest thing has been that I can't work out with the team at every practice," notes Bates.
Her teammates have little concern about Bates practicing on her own, and note that she has fit in quite well as a graduate student transfer.
"[Kim] is a great addition to the team," says Hansen. "Not only are we getting a number one runner, but she is also a great person and fits in really well with the team."
If all goals are met, Bates will have a chance to lead her new Bronco teammates up against her old Wildcat teammates at Arizona in the NCAA Regional meet.