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Mary Kathryn Govero knew coaching would be in her future once her basketball playing days were over with the Mississippi State Lady Bulldogs.
After a visit to Starkville Christian School earlier this year, it became clear to Govero where the path was leading and that God was opening a door that would keep her in Starkville and close to MSU.
Starkville Christian School headmaster Randy Witbeck announced this week that Govero will become the new girls basketball coach.
"I knew (coaching) was something I wanted to do, but didn't know what it would look like or how it would come about," Govero said. "God is definitely faithful and He knew where I was supposed to be. I didn't really have to go out looking and He brought it to me. It's been God's faithfulness to me as I go through this journey."
Govero was asked by Bill Buckley of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes to do a chapel service at Starkville Christian. Once she became acquainted with the students and faculty there, Govero was hooked.
While speaking at chapel, Govero said it was like an interview session where she was being asked questions by the students and she was telling them about herself.
"I was telling them where I came from and where I grew up," Govero said. "At the end, they wanted to know what I was doing next and I just threw out there that I was looking for a job, talked to them a little bit afterward and they let me know there's a possibility of a job here."
Witbeck was so impressed with the way Govero interacted with the students at chapel and with her testimony that he presented her with an application.
Govero said she felt "a real peace about" the school, its surroundings and what it stood for because it was very similar to her home school Mount Salus in Clinton.
After reviewing Govero's references which included comments by coaches and teachers that reinforced her walk with Christ and knowing her intensity on the court, Witbeck believes she will fit right in at the school.
"As an administrator, I am very excited about Mary Kathryn joining our teaching and coaching family at SCS," Witbeck said in a statement. "According to her references, she is coming to us with qualities that can't be taught, but are God given, and she gives the Lord honor in that."
Witbeck emphasizes with any hire that Starkville Christian School is more interested in developing Christian athletes who play for the glory of God, who strive for academic achievement, and then are blessed above that if God allows its athletic teams to have winning seasons.
"We believe you can have both," Witbeck said.
Govero shares the same vision.
"I was real comfortable to find a place where sharing Christ is their priority even over academics or sports," Govero said. "The No. 1 priority is to share Christ with these students through every aspect of our lives and secondary to teaching math, science and reading and how to play basketball. I'm excited about that."
Starkville has become a second home to Govero and she looks forward to spending more time in a town she's become attached to as she finishes her graduate work and begins to coach the Lady Cougars.
Govero replaces Kate Little, who had recently informed the team that she felt it was time to step down as coach.
Witbeck said Little was the first to approach him after hearing that Govero was looking for a coaching position.
Little believes Govero will be able to step right in and contribute because she "knows the system" and knows how to operate in a small Christian school setting.
"I wanted to get my plug in that they were looking for a new coach," Little said. "I thought she might be interested in that. She kind of comes from a background like Starkville Christian. She did well and knows how to challenge the girls as far as school."
Govero helped Mt. Salus to a pair of North/Central District 4A champions and the MPSA Class A state championship. She was chosen to the All-District team and Most Valuable Player, North/Central All-Tournament team, MPSA state tournament All-Tournament team, was a first-team all-state selection and was an McDonald's High School All-America nominee.
After her prep days in Clinton, Govero played four seasons for the Lady Bulldogs (2007-11) under head coach Sharon Fanning-Otis.
Govero was the only senior for the MSU women last season and finished her career 12th on the all-time scoring list with 1,173 points.
Fanning-Otis is taking advantage of a late spring vacation and wasn't immediately available for comment, but made her feelings clear about Govero prior to the final home game last season.
"If you look at a person like that on just how they've represented the university from a student-athlete standpoint and personally as well, it's been such a blessing," Fanning-Otis said in February. "You can't describe it. If a person can work as hard as she's worked, make the grade, represent you on and off the court and then become a successful basketball player in the toughest league in the country, you are very proud of what she's done as a coach."
Govero said that Fanning-Otis was proud upon hearing of her opportunity at Starkville Christian.
"She's excited and knows my faith is very important to me," Govero said. "I can use an opportunity like this to share my faith and share my love for the game of basketball as well."