When the Penn women’s basketball team suits up Friday for its season opener at Norfolk State, one notable player will be missing.
Sophomore guard Jackie Kates has chosen not to return to the team this season.
“I grappled with this decision since the first day I came back to school this year,” Kates said. “But ultimately it was a huge life choice. I realized that there were so many things I wanted to take advantage of … that I really couldn’t pursue if I stayed on the team.”
After consulting with her brother Mitchell, an All-American hoopster and current senior at Division III MIT, and 2012 Penn graduate Zack Rosen, she informed her coaches of her decision last Sunday.
She hadn’t discussed it with them much before then, and they did not expect her departure. Regardless, she left the program on good terms.
“The coaches told me they were disappointed, [but] they understood and respected my decision,” Kates said.
The hardest part of the decision, she said, was leaving her teammates. But she is confident they will stay close despite not playing together on the court.
Her discussions with Rosen and her brother made her realize she “didn’t want to miss out on opportunities that I felt like I was missing out on,” including studying abroad and enrolling in night courses, both of which she was hindered from doing due to basketball.
“Sometimes in life you need change to move forward, and I felt that this was one of those times,” Kates said.
Her departure opens up opportunities for underclassmen to fill minutes, though she’s not sure who will step up.
“We have great freshmen,” Kates said. “There’s a lot of people that are really close in ability, so I guess it’ll just depend on how people perform in games and work hard at practice.”
As a freshman, Kates played in all 28 games, averaging 4.9 points and 1.7 rebounds in 22 minutes per contest.