Sports athlete of the week

MITCHELL H. KATES ’13: Kates dominates the court as MIT point guard

Athlete balances playing basketball with Course 6-3, startups, and his fraternity

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Mitchell H. Kates ’13 hustles past a defender in the Final Four game against Wisconsin-Whitewater on March 16.
Tom Gearty

Mitchell H. Kates ’13 is a Course 6-3 (Computer Science and Engineering) junior on the MIT Varsity Basketball Team who has been recognized for his stellar play on numerous occasions throughout high school and college. During high school, Kates won the Kerwin Award, awarded to the best player in the Shore Conference (New Jersey), broke the career assists record at Colts Neck High School, and received a gold medal on the National U-16 United States Maccabi Basketball Team in Israel in 2005. After coming to MIT, Kates became NEWMAC Rookie of the Year as a freshman, was selected to the NEWMAC all-conference team all three years, and was a 4th team All-American this year.

Aside from basketball, Mitchell is passionate about web development and startups and is taking a class (Advanced Entrepreneurial Techniques) designed specifically to help startups develop their ideas. He is currently working on a project called GroupDough, with undergrads Ameesh K. Goyal ’14 and Justin C. Helbert ’13, that helps groups like fraternities and sororities fundraise by shopping online through affiliate links. During his free time, Mitchell likes to spend time at his fraternity (Lambda Chi Alpha) and take bike rides along the Charles.

The Tech sat down with Mitchell to discuss life as a student-athlete on the MIT Varsity Basketball Team.

The Tech: What do you like most about the MIT Basketball team?

Mitchell Kates: I love the camaraderie. I spend so much time with these guys both on and off the court. Everyone on the team is great friends with one another and that helps us get through the grind of such a long basketball season. We also have a great coaching staff and very entertaining assistant coaches. Towards the end of the year we had a number of long bus trips. “Words with Friends” became pretty popular.

TT: Describe the challenges/difficulties of the point guard position that you play.

MK: I think being the point guard is the easiest position. Our forwards (big guys), like Noel Hollingsworth ’12 and Will Tashman ’13, have to bang inside on every play, and all I have to do is dribble and shoot. I think there is naturally a leadership role that is assumed by the point guard, and this has been something I have been developing continuously over the past three years.

TT: What initially got you into basketball?

MK: I have been playing basketball since I was nine years old; it has been my favorite sport since I was a little kid. There is nothing better than March Madness. I started high school as a 5’0” freshman and grew a foot by the time I graduated.

Being small presented a lot of challenges physically but it helped me develop skills that I otherwise might have neglected. I took a postgraduate year at Exeter before I came to MIT, which is a much more rigid and strict environment compared to public high school, but both experiences were great.

TT: How do you find a balance between classes and sports at MIT?

MK: Balancing the two can be difficult at times, especially in post season where we were off-campus three days a week. There is definitely time to balance both. I am currently taking 66 units, and there are times where I feel a little overwhelmed, but I enjoy the challenge.

TT: Describe your life as a member of the basketball team.

MK: Currently we are in the off season, during which we lift four days a week and play pick-up three days a week. The spring is a great time to catch up on some work that has backed up during the end of the season. During the season, we play on Wednesdays and Saturdays, and practice is from 5 to 7 p.m. I really look forward to the summer. I am working in New Jersey (where I live), and there are some great summer leagues by the shore that I will play in.

TT: What is the most intense class that you are taking now?

MK: 6.170 (Web Programming). Although it is a great class with a lot of real world applications, it is definitely my most time consuming class. However, I enjoy all the projects and I get a chance to work with some great new web technologies.