For the first time since he graduated high school, Hannibal native Bruce Tate is returning to his roots tonight.
“I am pretty excited about the opportunity to be back,” Tate said. “It is something that I have been looking forward to for the past few years, but I could never find the time or the game to get out there.”
As part of his return, Tate will be guiding the Ottawa University women’s basketball team Thursday against Hannibal-LaGrange. Tipoff is at 5 p.m.
“It’s going to be a fun game, but it is going to be a tough game,” Tate said. “Hannibal-LaGrange has some really good players and we are a young team. We are just looking to make ourselves better for our conference games.”
Tate grew up in Hannibal. He played sports here and went to school here. But when he graduated high school in 1995, Tate left for Ottawa, Kan., where he went to college and played college football.
While working on his undergraduate degree at Ottawa University, Tate got his degree in physical education with an emphasis in sports administration as well as in health and fitness.
After graduating from Ottawa University, Tate continued to further his education. He attended classes at Emporia State University where in 2005 received his master’s degree in health, PE and recreation.
Even though Tate graduated from Ottawa University in 2000, he never left. He was an assistant basketball coach for nine years before getting his first shot at a head coaching job. Heading into the 2012-2013 season, Tate has now been running the Lady Braves basketball team for six years.
“I am entering my 15th year here overall,” Tate said. “I spent nine years as an assistant and am beginning my sixth year as the head coach.”
At one point Tate taught physical education, but those days are over. He gave up teaching and is now the Assistant Athletic Director for Ottawa University as well as its women’s basketball coach.
“Women’s basketball coach and assistant AD are my two main responsibilities,” Tate said. “I kind of oversee and help supervise game day operations, sports information department, and then assist our athletic director in the day to day operations of our athletic department.”
Going back to his days as a student athlete at Hannibal High School, Tate knew he was interested in coaching. Tate said his high school coaches were a positive influence on him and his desire to become a coach.
“I didn’t get to play basketball my senior year due to a football injury,” Tate said. “I got to sit up by the coaches and do a lot of coaching that way and that is when I pretty much got the coaching bug.”
Tate knew he wanted to get into coaching and he knew it he was going to make his way into the profession as a basketball coach. But he never expected to be coaching women’s basketball.
“I knew once my playing days were over I was going to find some type of way to coach,” Tate said. “I knew it was going to be basketball. I played football in college, but I definitely had a passion for the game of basketball. I felt that was the direction I wanted to go, but I didn’t know that it was going to be on the women’s side.”
The Lady Braves have 11 players returning this year, with two of them being starters one season ago. In addition, Ottawa also has 8 newcomers to the team.
“I like our depth,” Tate said. “I think we have the potential to a really good defensive team.
For a team that finished 10-8 in conference play and 12-16 overall last year, Tate has high expectations for his team.
“I think we are a lot quicker than we have been in the past.” Tate said. “I think we will be able to do some things differently than we have done in the past. We are small, but quick. We like to be athletic at all five positions to do some things that some teams are not able to do.”