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Bradley tabs Kate Popovec as its new women’s basketball coach

220406 Kate Popovec.jpg
Northwestern Athletics
Northwestern women's basketball associate head coach Kate Popovec speaks to reporters after a 2020 game against Michigan State in Evanston. Popovec is the new head coach of the Bradley University women's basketball team.

Kate Popovec is the new head coach of the Bradley University women’s basketball team.

Popovec has spent the past five seasons on the coaching staff at Northwestern, her alma mater. She has served as the Wildcats’ recruiting coordinator and was promoted to associate head coach before the start of last season.

“It is truly an honor to become the newest member of the Braves family,” Popovec said in a news release from the Bradley athletics department announcing her hiring by Vice President of Intercollegiate Athletics Dr. Chris Reynolds. “In my first conversation with Dr. Reynolds, it was apparent that he and I aligned in our values and goals.

“Bradley women’s basketball has proven it can win in one of the most-competitive conferences in the country and I’m excited to have the opportunity to build on that culture. Bradley also is an institution rich in academic tradition, and I'm thrilled to have the opportunity to recruit student-athletes to a championship experience on the court and in the classroom.”

Northwestern compiled a 92-60 record while Popovec was on the staff, winning its first Big Ten regular-season championship in 30 years in 2020. The following year, the Wildcats posted their first NCAA Tournament win in 28 years.

Popovec was an Academic All-Big Ten honoree in her two seasons as a Northwestern player (2011-13) after transferring from Pittsburgh. She was the Wildcats’ director of player development from 2014-16, then served as an assistant coach at Colgate before returning to the NU staff.

“I could not be more excited about the future of Bradley women’s basketball," Reynolds said in the news release. “Kate has been successful at every turn and her enthusiasm and energy are infectious. She is a proven winner and I am confident in her ability to lead our student-athletes to excellence in competition, the classroom and the community.”

Popovec becomes the Bradley program’s 10th head coach and replaces Braves Hall of Famer Andrea Gorski, who retired last month after six seasons at the helm. After making their first NCAA Tournament appearance in 2021, the Braves endured an injury-plagued 4-21 campaign last season.

Bradley has scheduled an introductory news conference for Popovec on Tuesday afternoon.

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Contact Joe at jdeacon@ilstu.edu.