FIU Football: A Passion for Sports and Education brings Katie Bason to Miami
For almost four months, Katie Bason sat at home, unemployed and waiting on a call from a football coach about a job that didn’t yet exist. Call it an unabashed love for sports — in addition to having blind faith in a man she had known only 90 days — but it’s called optimism in any language. It’s that type of attitude that’s resulted in a decade-long relationship with Mike MacIntyre — making her one of his most trusted staff members and first hires when he took the head coaching job at FIU. Raised in tiny Martinsville, Virginia, a town near the Virginia-North Carolina border best known for being a stop on the NASCAR Cup Series, Sarah Catherine “Katie” Bason grew up idolizing an older brother, who was a star baseball player among the local prep ranks. “Really, I just wanted to be like my older brother, so I spent hours practicing with him,” said Bason. Bason played four years on the baseball team at Martinsville’s Carlisle High, where she excelled on the diamond as both a pitcher and a position player. “I got thrown at a lot but over the years, I think they realized that I wasn’t going to quit, and I was there to stay,” said Bason. “Coach Prosser was a high school teacher before he started coaching and he taught me about how this profession can be used to the advantage of young people, in terms of preparing them for life,” said Bason. In addition to her duties as a student and with the basketball team, Bason’s desire to pursue baseball didn’t quell. She played for the Chicago Storm, a women’s semi-pro baseball team and earned an invite to tryout for the United States under-21 women’s national team. “(Playing) in Cooperstown was really excited and then we traveled to Australia to play in a tournament was honestly a life-changing experience,” said Bason.
Bason earned her bachelor’s degree in education in 2005 and spent the next half-decade as a teacher at various high schools in the Carolinas before moving cross country with her then-husband to California in 2010. “Because the state was on a budget freeze it was hard to find teaching jobs,” said Bason. A few months prior to Bason descending upon the Golden State, Mike MacIntyre accepted his first head coaching job with San Jose State. He inherited a program that went 2-10 on the field in 2009 and had even more pronounced struggles off the gridiron. Before attempting to rebuild the program on Saturdays, MacIntyre faced the reality that his players had to perform in the classroom in order for him to have a fighting shot. “San Jose State was on academic APR penalty, so we could only have 16 hours of practice per week (20 hours is the normal limit) and we had both a reduction in scholarships and were facing further penalties if we fell even further below the APR mark,” said MacIntyre. The impression left on MacIntyre in just three months was enough so that he made a personal appeal to then-San Jose State Athletic Director Tom Bowen for Bason to be kept on. However, while MacIntyre was making his appeal to the higher-ups, Bason was out of a job — again. “I didn’t really believe it was going to happen, even to the point where I interviewed for other jobs, but in the end I turned them down because Mac would keep in contact pleading with me not to take another job,” said Bason. MacIntyre recalled the meeting with Bowen and how emphatic he was that Bason needed to be a part of the program. “I went across the street to (Bowen’s) office and told him that we have to hire her if we don’t want to have an APR penalty because she’s phenomenal,” said MacIntyre.
History is a slightly concise way of summarizing what would turn into a relationship that has continued over the next 12 years. When MacIntyre was hired at Colorado, he made sure that Bason had a role with the Buffaloes. “She’s kind of kept evolving, which is why I wanted to bring her in as our Chief of Staff, which is an expanded role from her previous ones,” said MacIntyre. At 39, Bason feels she’s more than ready for the new challenge, especially given her almost two decades in education and over a decade working in college athletics. “I’ve worked in academics, I’ve worked in recruiting, I’ve worked in operations, I’ve worked in player development so I feel like at this point in my career, I’m ready to do a job that allowed me to touch all of those things at once officially,” said Bason. While she’s hit the ground running in her new role with the Panthers, the first-time South Florida resident has had the opportunity pick up on some of the intricacies of the region. “I already love living in Miami and the culture is nothing like I’ve ever experienced, plus I learned Spanish from my time working as the mascot (Orbit) of the Martinsville Astros,” said Bason. For MacIntyre, he summarizes why Bason is a pivotal piece in his rebuilding efforts with the Panthers. “Katie has an unbelievable caring heart, but she’s also very competitive and being an athlete herself, she’s really able to relate to them and vice versa.
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