Kate Paye: Associate Head Coach at Stanford University

Kate Paye

Associate Head Coach at Stanford University

This week we had the opportunity to speak with Associate Head Coach at Stanford University, Kate Paye. She will be presenting at Felicia Hall Allen & Associates’ A Step Up in Atlanta this May and gave us a sneak peak of what attendees can expect at the Symposium!

Having spent the past ten seasons as a member of the Stanford Women’s Basketball coaching staff, she brings a great deal of knowledge and experience of championship habits to this year’s symposium. A Stanford graduate herself, she lives and breathes the team’s culture, knowing the ins and outs of all aspects of the iconic program.

What to Expect

Coach Paye knows what it takes to win championships and she’s excited to invest in the game by sharing her experiences with fellow coaches! During her time at Stanford, she has been responsible for training some of the country’s best guards, including first round WNBA draft picks, All-American Honors players, the Pac-12 Player of the Year, Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year, and first team All-Pac-12 players. Coaches who attend the Symposium will get the chance to see her on court showing the strategies that she and the Stanford Cardinal coaching staff have utilized to develop outstanding perimeter players. In addition to her on-court time, she will be sharing insight on building and sustaining championship programs.

Assistants: Separating the Good from Great

Coach Paye cited that what separates a good assistant from a great one is loyalty to the head coach, to the program, and to the student-athletes of the program. Great assistants must be hard working individuals who are knowledgeable about their craft, constantly trying to learn and improve, and must keep up with the game. Other non-negotiable qualities include genuinely caring about the people around them by continually investing in relationships. While coaches may hear these qualities a lot, she stated one that often goes overlooked is maturity.

“Maturity is really important. Great assistants have to be mature people and must be mature in handling different situations.”

Coach Paye tries to find ways to learn in everything she does. Each time she scouts an opponent during the season she’s exposed to a different style of play and tries to learn from it. She also devotes time to professional development through attending events such as the Nike Villa 7 Coaches Consortium, Coaching U, and WNBA training camps. Additionally, the staff will periodically bring in coaches from other programs and other levels to share ideas. They’re constantly asking, “How can we improve and do things differently or better? How can we apply this to fit our team?”

Integrity in Recruiting

For all of the coaches out there who are new to recruiting, Coach Paye assures that you will learn as you go! Her main piece of advice is “It is important to approach the recruiting process with a great amount of integrity. Don’t take short cuts!” She insists that coaches must be honest in the process and work really hard at developing long-term relationships. One of the key ingredients to Stanford’s incredible standard of success is their ability to create quality relationships in the recruiting process coupled with their ability to sustain and grow those relationships.

Maintaining a Standard of Excellence

One of the hardest things about developing team culture is that it is not a one step process. It involves building, sustaining, maintaining, protecting, rebuilding, and reestablishing team culture from day-to-day, season-to-season. It requires persistent effort. Coach Paye believes their success starts with Coach VanDerveer and the culture of the world-class institution they call home. The staff sets the example for how the entire team should work together and they aim for a positive and high energy in everything that they do. The staff is composed of such genuine relationships due to the care, love, and respect that they have for each other. They are aware that each has a variety of strengths and follows the John Wooden mantra, “It’s amazing how much can be accomplished if no one cares who gets the credit.” They are all about getting the job done and giving the team the best opportunity to be successful. Coach VanDerveer sets the tone from the top down with a humble and hardworking attitude, which she brings every day.

Every year the staff views the team as a new puzzle to put together. There are new pieces and new strategies to be implemented for optimal success each individual year. Coach Paye explained that it is important to find new ways to reach your players and new ways to invest in them. One year they brought in Stanford’s football coach to come and work with their team, while another year they had respected author and speaker, Jon Gordon, Skype with the team to talk about leadership. The coaching staff also emphasizes to the team in the pre-game and post-practice circle,  “This is the only time you will be with this exact group of people.” They preach the “Stanford sisterhood” as a way to be “best teammates” above everything else. As sisters, they take care of and look out for each other. Together, they talk about accountability, worth ethic, and leadershipship every single day. They recognize, reward, and praise the behaviors that they look for in each other.

“Keep investing in the game. Work really hard and do things the right way!”


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