STANFORD — The color of the uniform may change but Kourtney Belcher will still be a Patriot when she makes the leap from high school to college basketball this fall.
The LCHS senior traded her typical red, white and blue attire for a purple and gold St. Catharine’s College Patriot t-shirt as she committed to play basketball for the Springfield college Thursday afternoon.
Belcher’s parents, Lee and Vicky Belcher, her grandmother, Peggy Simpson, her former coaches Cassandra McWhorter, Rebecca Garcia and Billy Harris as well as her former teammates were on hand as she signed the papers brought in by St. Catharine College assistant coach Tyler Campbell.
Belcher said she was thrilled to get to still be a Patriot.
“As a matter of fact I said, I’ve been a Patriot since eighth grade so why stop now,” Belcher said.
But it was not the nickname that drew Belcher to sign with St. Catharine’s. No, after a long period of getting no responses from colleges, it was St. Catharine’s prompt attention that piqued Belcher’s interest.
“I was kind of discouraged because nobody really offered me anything,” Belcher said. “It was like, ‘Oh, you can come try out.’ or ‘You can come to open gym and play.’ I’d go and then I never heard anything back. Nothing.”
“It was really good to see that when I went to their (St. Catharine’s) open gym there was instant feedback. They kept up with me. They called. They texted me. ‘How’s your day going?’ ‘How are things at school? ‘How are your finals?’ ‘Have you thought anything about us?’ They continuously kept up with me. They are like a big family.”
Belcher says she has those colleges that never responded to her visits or contacts to thank for helping her find her way to St. Catharine’s.
“When I hadn’t gotten any offers from anybody by Spring Break, my dad said, ‘Why don’t you just look online at different colleges and see what you’ve got going on.’ So I went on and looked through all the colleges in Kentucky, and the third one I found was St. Catharine’s,” she said. “I emailed them and sent in my recruit request at 12:24 (p.m.). I got an email back at 12:34 (p.m.) saying, ‘We’re having open gym at 4. Why don’t you come down and you can visit the college.’ So at 2 o’clock I was down there.”
Belcher spent some time walking around St. Catharine’s, familiarizing herself with the campus. She said she liked what she saw and felt comfortable at the school, but that that comfort took a backseat when she entered the open gym – at least temporarily.
“When I went to go try out with the girls I got so intimidated at first,” Belcher said. “When I got to playing with them, they started joking around with me, calling me nicknames. The boys basketball team was off to the side and they started aggravating me, just kidding around with me. It was so much fun the environment I was in. It just reminded me of home. I loved it.”
Belcher and her mom paid another visit to the campus last Tuesday and Belcher’s college choice was set.
“I went down there and got to meet with the head coach (Lena Bramblett),” Belcher said. “As soon as I met with her and talked with her more and got to walk around the campus one more time, I decided I have to sign. I texted them Tuesday night and said I’m signing. You have me.”
Belcher, who averaged 9.2 points and 6.5 rebounds per game and shot 53 percent from the floor this past season as Lincoln won its second straight 12th Region title, is the third Lady Patriot to sign to play college basketball. Emily Fox is going to Austin Peay and Sydney Harris will play at King College in Tennessee.
Campbell said St. Catharine’s was glad Belcher made the effort to get in touch with them.
“She’s the kind of athlete we look for,” he said. “Work ethic was the main thing. She’s the epitome of a student/athlete. She’s going to work hard on the floor and work even harder in the classroom and that’s what a program like ours needs. Down the road I see her being a pretty integral part of our program.”
Belcher is joining a program coming off a winning season as St. Catharine finished 19-10 and earned its first trip to the NAIA national tournament.
Belcher, who plans to pursue a degree in nursing with a career goal as a pediatric nurse, says she knows the transition from high school to college basketball will be challenging but that she’s more than ready to meet that challenge.
“I personally am okay with starting over. My motto is ‘Dig deeper and work harder than you ever have before. Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard,’” she said. “That motto carried me to success in high school, and I feel like it should carry over into my college career.”