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The University Magazine

Kate Gleasonís the name, volleyballís the game

Kate Gleason, senior defensive specialist on the RIT women’s volleyball team, knows how to be successful on and off the court.

Kate Gleason

She kicked off her senior season in fine fashion, starring in 67 games, picking up 171 digs and tallying 29 service aces in the first 15 games of 2008.

Gleason, a native of Hamburg, N.Y., is a lifelong fan of her hometown teams, the Buffalo Bills and Buffalo Sabres, and names Olympic beach volleyball gold medalists Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh as her favorite professional athletes. Hot Shots is her favorite off-campus hangout, and pulled pork is her absolute favorite food.

On top of volleyball, she finds time to pursue dual degrees in industrial and systems engineering in the Kate Gleason College of Engineering.

During the 2007-08 school year, Gleason recorded a cumulative 3.76 grade-point average and earned a spot on the Empire 8 President’s List for Academic Excellence. Gleason will graduate in the fall of 2009 as a four-year student athlete with bachelor’s and master’s degrees.

You probably get this a lot, but is there any relation between you and the Kate Gleason of the College of Engineering?
(laughs) No, there’s no relation there. I had heard about the college name but it didn’t really influence my choice. I chose RIT because it was somewhat close to home, I’ve always wanted to study engineering, and I could play volleyball.

Before coming to RIT, what was your experience with athletics?
I went to Frontier High School in Hamburg, N.Y., and was a basketball player on the varsity team. A lot of my friends played volleyball, and I was actually asked by the volleyball coach to play on the team. I kept playing basketball in the winter, and it became kind of a way to stay in shape for volleyball. I also started playing volleyball year-round, not only at school but joining club teams.

Is volleyball somewhat of a family tradition in the Gleason household?

Kate Gleason (No. 15) in action at the net. (Photos by Ashley Conti, third-year photojournalism major)
I guess you could say I started the tradition within my family. After I started playing, my sister started playing and now plays varsity at Le Moyne. My brother, Donny, (a third-year industrial engineering major) plays for the club team here at RIT. So yeah, I guess it’s kind of a family thing now.

What have been your greatest on-court accomplishments so far at RIT?
(laughs) Accomplishments . . . Well, going to the NCAA’s in Ohio last season was great. We got an at-large bid to go, and were defeated in the first round, but it was a huge accomplishment for the team and a great experience overall.

What’s best about being an athlete?
The way it’s reflected in my personality, you know, the confidence we can walk around with. I’m just proud to be on a team, to be able to say that we lift as a team four mornings a week in the off-season and have a conditioning regimen year-round.

What is it like to be a woman engineering student on a male-dominated campus?
To be honest, it’s not something I notice as much now that I’m so far in. I’m used to the class ratios. It’s part of being here, accepting that you’re surrounded by males. It hasn’t affected how I learn, and if anything, the administration is more supportive of the female engineers – if there’s anything any of us need, we’re taken care of.

What have been your greatest accomplishments off the court, in regards to academics?
The past two summers, I worked for “Lead America,” coaching and teaching students in engineering and robotics. It’s a series of four 10-day conferences held in Boston and Baltimore. My first year, I was a team leader, and returned this past summer as the head team leader. It’s really rewarding, being able to help gifted students with the same interests. I’ve also done a couple of co-ops, my first with a small company in Buffalo, Oden Corp., and last year with CIMS here at RIT. I think my greatest accomplishment will be after next fall, when I graduate with my bachelor’s and master’s degrees.

How does being an athlete affect being a student at RIT?
It definitely improves my time-management. Without volleyball and a strict schedule every day, it’s easy to waste time.

What are you looking forward to most in your senior year season?
My ultimate goal would be to go back to the NCAA’s. We’re in somewhat of a re-building year now, though, so my main goal is to play well and set an example for the younger players to follow – to carry on the tradition.

Story and interview by Sara Paduano, fourth-year multidisciplinary studies/advertising and public relations major and sports information co-op assistant.

Web extra: For highlights of all RIT teams and athletes including schedules visit