Dream Big, Then Work Harder with Former Pro Volleyball Player Kathleen Gates

In this episode of the Started With A Dream Podcast presented by 9INE POINT, Jacolby Gilliam interviews Kathleen Gates, a former seven-year pro volleyball player who now works as a development manager at Athletes Abroad. Athletes Abroad Management, a company that helps athletes enrich their lives and succeed in their chosen sports. Kathleen sits with Jacolby today to share her inspiring story of starting as a 5 year-old dreamer in a small town with dreams of becoming an Olympian. She shares with us her journey of resilience from playing in high school to going pro. Following the end of your pro run, Kathleen is building the future of other athletes and inspiring younger female athletes to believe in their dreams.

Kathleen starts the conversation by describing the dreams she had as a young child and how she found her grandfather as an inspiration. She shares with us the struggles she went through in building her volleyball career and the challenges she faced in college. She also shares her story of hitting a low point in her career where she sustained a major injury and how this drove her into depression. Despite it all, Kathleen made her comeback and learnt valuable lessons along the way. Kathleen hopes to encourage athletes to never give up. Dream big and work hard and watch yourself soar.

Key Points:

  • Kathleen’s dream of becoming an Olympian when she was a younger athlete
  • A dream propelled by adventure and wanting to see the world
  • How young Kathleen drew inspiration from her grandfather
  • Growing up as an athlete in a small town
  • How Kathleen fell in love with the game of volleyball
  • The importance of family support for a young athlete
  • Kathleen’s experience with college letters and how she made decision on what college to attend
  • Kathleen’s drive to work harder and stay motivated
  • Struggling with college burnout and deciding to go pro
  • Having a supportive team that keeps you accountable can quiet that voice of doubt
  • Kathleen’s words to her 5-year old self
  • The hardest period in Kathleen’s life as a pro athlete
  • How to get adjusted to different cultures you become exposed to when traveling as a pro athlete
  • How to become an efficient team leader
  • Hanging the boots and building a life in Paris
  • The future Kathleen looks forward to


“I was really fortunate that I was in this small town. And so it was cool that we were able to kind of try everything.”

“One of my coaches for the High Performance Carolina region, the quote that he gave us is that ‘when you’re not working, somewhere, someone else is and when you two meet, she will win. ”

“It was tough, because I’ve put so much of my identity into being Kathleen, a volleyball player, the pro athlete, the leader of the team, the setter to being like the bench player on the bench.”

“Dream big, then work harder.”

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Athlete Abroad Management Website

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