MUNCIE, Ind. — Katherine Mowat’s name is synonymous with the Ball State women’s golf program.
The team, which was discontinued in the fall of 1983 after just a few years in existence, restarted in 2000. Four years later, on Aug. 2, 2004, Mowat took over, where she has remained at the helm for the past 18 years.
Friday was Mowat’s last day as one of Ball State’s longest tenured coaches decided to step down from her position.
“This was my first career job or first real job, I suppose,” Mowat said. “18 years is a tremendous amount of time, it actually matches the number of years I spent in Canada growing up. … It does make this place very special because so much of my life has happened here in Muncie and at Ball State. “
Living her life:Ball State’s Mowat one of the rare openly gay college coaches
Mowat, who grew up in Ontario, Canada, got her undergraduate degree at Louisville before getting her master’s at Mississippi in 2004, where she spent three years as an assistant coach.
When it was time to leave for a head coaching position, Ball State was the only place she interviewed for.
It’s where she earned 20 tournament wins, coaches 58 Women’s Golf Coaches Association All-America Scholar honorees and 36 Academic All-Mid-American Conference honorees. It’s where she won a pair of MAC Coach of the Year honors (2010, 2013), helped guide a pair of golfers to NCAA Regional appearances (Jenna Hague and Brittany Kelly), coached two MAC Championship medalists (Katie Sundberg and Hague) and three MAC Sportswoman of the Year honorees (Liz Kim, Sarah Westaway and Kirsty O’Connor).
It’s where she lived with her wife, Mandy Harrison, and raised her two daughters Myla and Katy. It’s where she’ll stay — working a remote hybrid position as a health and wellness coach — but not at Ball State.
More:Shift in mindset allowed Ball State’s Charity Griffith to qualify for NCAA Championships
“We’re really fortunate as a family where we were able to make one big change and only one big change and everything else with my family will stay the same,” Mowat said.
Look through Ball State’s record books, Mowat’s impact is everywhere. Every record — low round, low tournament and low average — came during her tenure. She was there for almost every team tournament title and individual tournament title in team history.
Mowat led Ball State to a pair of runner-up finishes in the MAC Championships (2010, 2012) and coached the top five golfers in career scoring average in Kelly (76.43), Manon Tounalom (76.89), Hague (77.22), Kelsey Sear (78.53) and Rachael Pruett (78.78).
The years and the tournaments tend to blend together after nearly two decades, but Mowat said seeing the best names in Ball State women’s golf tied to her is special.
“They’re the athletes who showed up and did the work and won the tournaments and I was alongside the ride for that journey,” Mowat said. “… They all are just right at the top of the best on-course moments that I’ve experienced.”
For 18 years Mowat has seen coaches and athletic directors at Ball State come and go, but she never had any intention of leaving. She’s seen the world of collegiate women’s golf transform for the better, from the type of players she recruits to the way the team travels to the number of tournaments they play in every season.
“Being part of that at Ball State has been really special to know that, especially in those early years, there was nowhere to go but up,” Mowat said, “if you just did a few of the right things then you were going to see improvements.”
Ball State has already begun a comprehensive search for the next leader of the women’s golf team, according to a press release. Mowat walks away confident her position will be a desirable one for prospective coaches and the program will continue to move in the right direction.
Mowat said she’s confident in the state of the athletic program, from the resources to the facilities, administration and community support will lead to further success for the women’s golf team.
Whatever success that leads to, Mowat’s impact will be scattered throughout the record books for decades to come.
“Cleaning up the office, (I had) all the feels going through all the old pictures and cards and trophies, it’s cool,” Mowat said. “It’s certainly bittersweet but it’s all good. The time is right for me and my family and we’re obviously going to stay local and continue to support Ball State. I look back on my journey with nothing but gratitude and a lot of pride and I’m just excited for the future.”
Robby General covers Ball State and East Central Indiana high school sports for The Star Press. Contact him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @rgeneraljr.