Patriot League 20th Anniversary Profiles: Kate (Walkenhorst) Sturdevant



Oct. 12, 2010

Name: Kate (Walkenhorst) Sturdevant
Institution: Lafayette College
Sport: Volleyball
Graduation Year: 2005
Undergraduate Degree:Government/Law
Did You Know?
Worked at the White House

Kate (Walkenhorst) Sturdevant played outside hitter on the Lafayette volleyball team, and filled several roles within the Leopards' program. A two-time Patriot League Academic Honor Roll selection (2002, 2003), she led the squad with 237 kills and 201 digs as freshman (2001). In addition, she served as student-assistant coach for Leopards' volleyball program (2003-04).

Following her graduation, she worked in the world of politics, including a stint in the White House. She was married at the beginning of the year; Sturdevant is taking a break from the world of politics to have a child. She plans to return to the political world for the upcoming 2010 and 2012 campaign cycles.

Q: What factors helped in your decision to attend the Lafayette College?
A: I was looking for a smaller, liberal arts college that offered a rigorous academic program as well as a Division I volleyball program. When I started looking at Lafayette, their volleyball program was relatively weak. I liked the idea that I could make an immediate impact and help turn around a program while receiving a strong education. I am a very goal-oriented person, and attending Lafayette allowed me to set goals and achieve them.

Q: Who were your sports idols growing up and why?
A: Misty May Treanor was always one of my sports idols. She may not have been the tallest or most powerful player on the court, but she was always the scrappiest. It wasn't pure talent that put her at the top, but a "never quit" attitude.

Q: What was your proudest on-the-court accomplishment?
A: My proudest accomplishment was my ability to transition from player to student coach. When I had a career-ending injury, I assumed my time as a student-athlete was over. Coach Campbell convinced me that I could make the best of a bad situation, and continue to help advance my team through other avenues. Accepting that I could no longer be a player was hard, but offering my insight as a coach, from the sidelines, became just as fulfilling as my time on the court. .

Q: What was your proudest academic accomplishment?
A: My proudest academic accomplishment was finishing my Government and Law honors thesis. The research was focused on the flaws inherent within Title IX legislation. I was able to obtain some great information from coaches within the Patriot League. Graduating with honors from the Government and Law Department was a great academic accomplishment for me.

Q: How were you able to balance the demands in the classroom with the demands of being an athlete?
A: Being an athlete forced me to create structure that is often absent in the life of a college student. I made sure to take my classes early in the morning, so that I could study for a few hours before going to weight lifting and practice. I learned quickly that saving things for the evening was not an option, so most of my free time went towards my studies.

Q: How did your experience as a student-athlete prepare you for life after college?
A: My experience as a student-athlete shaped me in two ways. First, and most importantly, it taught me the importance of being a leader and working with a team. I learned managerial skills that were crucial in my work experience after Lafayette. I also learned the value of work ethic and perseverance. Pure talent can only take you so far. It is the individuals that are willing to put in the extra effort that succeed not only on the court, but outside the court as well.

Q: Can you talk about your job at the White House and working in the Office of the President?
A: Serving the President (George W. Bush) was truly the opportunity and the honor of a lifetime. I thrive in high pressure situations, and working in the Executive Office of the President offered extreme intensity every time I walked through the door. It was eye-opening and exhausting, but the reward was worth every second. I was the Director of Presidential Messages in the Office of Presidential Correspondence. The job was a goal I had carried with me my entire life, and to achieve it in my early-20s was something I never thought possible. The environment was rigorous, but it helps when all of your colleagues are in the same boat and working towards the same goals. Often times, I found myself comparing the situations to those of being on an athletic team. NOTE: She served as Director of Presidential Messages in 2007-09 after working as Deputy Director of Presidential Messages in 2007 and a staff assistant in 2006.

Q: If you could go back to college and compete one more time, where would it be and against whom?
A: The Lehigh rivalry was always significant for Lafayette students. However, once we started beating Bucknell my sophomore and junior year, those games were always the most motivating. I would love to play them one more time at home.

Q: If you had to offer current student-athletes some words of wisdom what would they be?
A: Listen to your coach. He or she can teach you a lot. I owe a great deal of thanks to Coach Campbell for all of my success on and off the court. The program at Lafayette would not be what it is today had she not stepped in when she did. I remember meeting her during preseason my sophomore year and thinking that she was going to put forth some significant challenges for us. She taught me a lot about work ethic and the importance of leading a team. I know coaches can be frustrating, but it is the frustrating ones that are making you better.

Q: Do you still follow Lafayette athletics?
A: Absolutely. When I was living in D.C., I always tried to make it to the Navy and American matches every year. Lafayette's volleyball program is so dynamic and it grows significantly every year. I love to watch the changes and read about how the new recruits are adding to the team.

Q: Looking back, what does it mean to you to have been a Patriot League student-athlete?
A: II have a great deal of respect for Patriot League student-athletes. I think the pressures and challenges that we face are some of the greatest as student-athletes. We are not only asked to perform on the court, but we are asked to perform just as well, if not better, in the classroom. It is this dynamic that creates a well rounded individual when you leave your years as a student-athlete.