Harley Redin had retired from coaching by the time Kathy Harston came to Wayland Baptist to play basketball in 1976. But, much to Harston’s delight and appreciation, the esteemed Flying Queens coach was still involved with the Flying Queens program.

“My freshman year I flew on the plane where Harley was a pilot. I didn’t know him that well, but after three or four games he told me, ‘You shoot the ball pretty well. You might need to shoot more.’ That was the first conversation we had,” Harston recalled.

On Saturday, Harston – the senior associate athletics director for sports programs at the University of Texas – will be presented the Harley Redin Coach’s Award, presented to a WBU alumnus who has demonstrated outstanding success as a head coach at the university or public/private school level and for outstanding contributions to community, school and church.

The award – named in honor of Wayland’s most successful and longest-tenured coach – will be presented as part of the WBU Athletics Hall of Honor induction ceremony beginning at 9 a.m. Saturday in the University Center on the WBU campus. Redin led the Pioneers to a 171-97 record and three national tournament appearances from 1948-57, and the Flying Queens to a 431-66 record – including wins in his first 76 games as part of a still collegiate-record 131 straight victories – six Amateur Athletic Union national championships and seven AAU runner-up titles in 18 years.

Coach Redin died Aug. 1, 2020. He would have celebrated his 101st birthday later that month on Aug. 29.

“He was my favorite,” Harston said of Redin. “He was always at the games and always very positive. Everything he said was so complimentary. You could tell he was always so passionate not only about Wayland, but the Flying Queens program. What an amazing career.”

Harston, too, has and still is enjoying an amazing career. It started after three all-state seasons at Southlake’s Carroll High School and four impressive years playing for the Flying Queens from 1976-80. At Wayland, Harston was named to four all-American teams, tied or broke three school records and became the third-leading scorer in Queens history (she’s currently eighth). In 1980 she was a finalist for the Wade Trophy given to the national player of the year.

Harston, who was named the top player of the 1970s in Texas High School basketball, joined the Texas High School Basketball Hall of Fame in 1996 and in 2006 was selected as one of the “Top 25 Players of the Pre-NCAA Basketball Era” by ESPN.com.

All of that led to Harston being named to the WBU Athletics Hall of Honor in 2008.

Harston said playing at Wayland was a dream come true.

“I started hearing from some smaller schools my sophomore year (in high school). Finally, one day early in my senior year, my high school coach, Don Durham, came to me and said, ‘I have a letter for you.'”

It was an invitation to play for the Flying Queens from then head coach Dean Weese. Harston’s response? “I was like, ‘I’m there!’ It wasn’t a hard decision at all. In the state of Texas, that was the place to go. It’s where all the best players were going.”

Harston chose Wayland despite being recruited by her future boss, Hall of Fame UT coach Jody Conradt, who was finishing up a three-year coaching stint at Texas-Arlington before she headed to Austin.

After graduating from Wayland with a Bachelor of Science degree in Health and Physical Education (she earned her master’s degree in education from North Texas in 1982), Harston got her coaching start at Hale Center High School as head girls basketball coach. She led the Owlettes to a co-district championship in her only year there.

Harston moved on to Texas Tech University to serve as an assistant coach under Marsha Sharp then returned to Plainview in 1984 to take over as head basketball coach at Plainview High School. She was honored as the 1987 TABC Class 5A Coach of the Year after leading the Lady Bulldogs to their first-ever state championship.

In 1989, Harston joined Conradt’s staff as an assistant coach at UT. During her 19 years on the bench there, the Longhorns made 14 NCAA Tournament appearances, including a trip to the Final Four in 2003. Texas also claimed eight conference championships, including five regular-season titles and three postseason tournament crowns.

In 2007, Harston left the sidelines to become an academic counselor at UT then spent four years as basketball operations director for the University of Tennessee Lady Vols, Harston returned to the University of Texas in 2012 in her current role, responsible for sport administration of six programs, including day-to-day oversight of women’s basketball, women’s volleyball, soccer, track & field and rowing.

“Other than the administrative dotting I’s and crossing T’s, I’m mainly in a behind-the-scenes support role for our coaches and student-athletes,” Harston said. “The hours are just as long (as when she was coaching), they’re just spent on different things. I really enjoy what I do. It’s a great job.”

Despite some opportunities, Harston said she “made the decision early on I didn’t want to be a head coach” at the college level. “I’ve always been told, ‘Don’t mess with happiness,’ and I’ve always been very happy being in a support role.”

Probably no one has worked as closely as Harston under three legendary women’s college basketball coaches –Sharp, Conradt and Pat Summitt.

“What they have done for women’s basketball is amazing. The courage those ladies had, the way they built teams and handle student-athletes. It was a life lesson every single day.”

While she loves her current job, Harston said she misses coaching…at times.

“I miss somebody having a basketball in their hands and saying, ‘Kathy, can you help me with this?’ I miss helping others and the player development piece. I don’t miss recruiting,” she chuckled.

Harston, who currently is serving a four-year term on the NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Competition Committee, obviously bleeds burnt orange.

“I’m in year No. 30 here. I’ve been really, really lucky to be at the University of Texas this long.”

She also said she was lucky to spend time at Wayland around Coach Redin.

“The success he had was amazing. You didn’t want to let him down,” Harston said. “How lucky we were to be exposed to the people we were? Coach Redin and Coach Weese plus the coaches that came to camps (like) Cathy Wilson, Bob Schneider and Jim Kirkland. They made you want to be good. We were around greatness the entire time we were at Wayland.

“Wayland prepared us. It gave us a love of coaching and a love of basketball. For so many of us that went on and were successful, we got that at Wayland. How we all ended up at the little school out there in West Texas… It was life-changing for me. I was just lucky…really, really fortunate.

“I’ve never forgotten what Wayland Baptist has done for me. I’ve been fortunate to be able to share Wayland’s stories.”

Harston is the 11th person to receive the Harley Redin Coach’s Award, after Joe Lombard (2000), Marsha Sharp (2001), Rick Cooper (2002), Danny Wrenn (2003), Marsha Porter (2008), Chris Kennedy (2012), Ray Murphree (2017), Valerie Goodwin-Colbert (2018), Brandon Schneider (2019) and Tim Thomas (2020).

“That’s a who’s who in the coaching world. I don’t know if my name belongs on there with those people.” Harston said. “This is very humbling and I’m totally honored.”

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