Flying Queen

1976-80

Kathy Harston

I am Kathy Harston and I played for the Flying Queens from 1976-1980.

The very first time I played basketball was on a unicycle.

When I was ten years old our family went to see Ringling Brothers Circus at Reunion Arena in Dallas, TX. One of the acts that fascinated me was a group of guys playing full-court basketball on unicycles. I asked for a unicycle for Christmas that year and taught myself to dribble, pass and shoot while riding. The best part about it was there was never any defense! I was hell on wheel!

I grew up in Southlake, TX and attended school at Carroll ISD. My parents, Bob and Sue Harston (both are deceased), always told my siblings and me that moving to Southlake was the best decision they ever made. My father was an airline pilot for American Airlines, and we moved to Southlake to be closer to the new DFW Airport that was being built at that time.

My 6th grade year, the high school girls’ coach, Don Durham, came to our P.E. class one day and put us through some basketball drills – by that time I had taught myself to play on a court as well. There was never a doubt in my mind that one day that I was going to be a college basketball player. The girls’ basketball program at Carroll H.S. was one of the best in the state of Texas.

I was fortunate enough to play on the varsity all four years. We won the State Championship in 1975. Mr. Durham was a great man and coach. He spent hours in the gym working with me, and to this day I give him a lot of the credit for helping me develop my game. Coach Durham was tragically killed in a car accident my junior year at Wayland. Two days before his accident he had called and told me that he was planning to come and watch the Queens play that weekend at Stephen F. Austin. It was a very sad time for me and my former high school teammates.

I have never forgotten the day that Mr. Durham brought me a letter my senior year that had a crown and a Beechcraft airplane on the envelope. I finally heard from Coach Weese. It was a day that totally change the trajectory of my life. Coach Weese later called me and offered me a scholarship to play for the Flying Queens. He told me he was close to signing Jill Rankin from Phillips, TX as well. I had seen Jill play at the Duncanville Tournament throughout her career. I don’t think I ever saw her score under 60 in any game. To get the opportunity to play with a player like Jill—I was like, “Where do I sign?”

At the end of my season, my mom and I drove to Plainview to meet Coach Weese and see the Wayland campus. During the visit he watched me play two-on-two with some of his current players. The most vivid memory of that day was watching guard Rosemary Brown blow by me every time she had the basketball.

It was a very humbling experience. That recruiting visit as well as losses in the North-South All Star game and the Texas-Oklahoma All-Star game had me seriously considering giving up basketball for a career as a unicyclist in the Barnum & Bailey Circus.

The Fall of 1976 rolled around, and time to start my career as a Flying Queen. I started school with the same fears and questions that every college athlete has: Am I going to be good enough? What is my role going to be? What can I do to get playing time with all these great players around me? Is there free ice cream in the dining hall?

Now, I didn’t expect to be treated like a queen during my freshman year, but I certainly didn’t envision spending my first week on campus picking up buffalo patties at West Texas A&M or
pulling Jill Rankin around the dining hall in a wagon for two hours while wearing swim goggles. Nobody told me my head would always be on a constant swivel and that I’d be required to yell “YES MA’AM” to everyone I’d see on campus or that I would be using tweezers to pick gum out of the eagle floor mat in Breena Caldwell’s car for a signature.

Shieldknight (now Gillaspie)…I am still so sorry that Jill and I cracked your car windshield trying to defrost it for you.

Already an adventure and we hadn’t even touched a basketball. I was so ready to get in the gym because I knew when we finally did that it would be the ultimate in sisterhood. We knew everyone would have the same desire, passion and heartbeat to be great.

I was a 5’ 10”-point guard. I really think Coach Weese played me at point because he knew things were never going to get too out of control from a “speed” perspective with the ball in my hands. I played on both the Queen Bees and Queens my freshman year, a plus for me because it was the first time that I had played the five-player game and I needed the game experience.

I played for Dean Weese my first three years and Cathy Wilson my senior season. You should always want to play for coaches that are demanding, driven, great leaders, smart, preach accountability to the team and are great motivators. Both were that and more. The courage and toughness they displayed made you proud to call them “Coach.”

From 1976 – 80, Wayland went 108 – 35. We won the NWIT in 1977, went to the AIAW Final Four in 1978 and the AIAW Quarterfinals in 1979.

We were fortunate to win a lot of games as a team – but I think the one thing I remember the most was how we prepared for each game. I don’t know that everyone loved practice, but I do believe it was important to all of us to uphold the Flying Queens’ tradition of greatness and excellence.

I just completed my 26th year at The University of Texas: eighteen years as an assistant coach to Naismith Hall of Famer, Jody Conradt, and eight as a senior associate athletics director.
I left Texas from 2008-2012 – spending those four years as the Director of Basketball Operations at the University of Tennessee for Pat Summitt.

Jody Conradt and Pat Summitt – I have been so blessed in my career.

Jeannine McHaney, Marsha Sharp, Greg Sherwood, Donna Lopiano, Deloss Dodds, Chris Plonsky, Joan Cronan and Chris Del Conte – all the very best at what they did and currently do.
They each have been my boss at some point in my career.

As we all know life can throw you some curveballs and you have to step up and attack every one of them head on. My “ticker” hasn’t been cooperating much the last three years. Well, I guess it’s been cooperating just fine since I’m still here. But I have had several procedures including open-heart surgery. Darn thing won’t pump.

Thankfully, I have the A- team of doctors here in Austin and, even though Coach Weese and Coach Wilson might not believe it, I have been letting them coach me up. My diagnosis is congestive heart failure but currently my heart is not failing. Hope that makes sense.
Playing for the Flying Queens taught me critical lessons. One I’m reminded of today is “courage over comfort.” That particular lesson has been helpful throughout my career, especially during this most recent challenge with my health.

To the current Flying Queens, I would say first and foremost: be a great teammate. Listen to your coaches. You are playing for a program that is being inducted into the Naismith Hall of Fame. Celebrate that. Embrace that. Sure, there will be failures along the way, but when life kicks you down, don’t stay down. Get up and let that same life kick you forward. You’re a Queen. And there aren’t many things more special than playing basketball for Wayland Baptist – nothing except maybe playing for Wayland Baptist on a unicycle.

Kathy Harston Wayland Grad 1980 Flying Queen forever!

From a teammate: What Kathy is too modest to tell you is that in addition to the Queens’ success during her time at Wayland, Kathy received several individual accolades. She earned three All-America honors during her four years. In 1978 she was selected to the Kodak All-America team and the National Scouting Association All-America team. She repeated as an All-American on the National Scouting Association team in 1979 as well as being nabbed as a 1979 Street & Smith Preseason All-American.

Kathy Harston

Wayland Grad 1980

Flying Queens Forever!