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Looking Ahead
Patriots' Kasey Buggs to Join New Team - of Engineers

Kasey Buggs is most widely known at The University of Texas at Tyler as a standout in women’s basketball.

After playing three previous seasons and winning two American Southwest Conference East Division Championships with the Patriots, she helped the team win its third division championship in 2007- 08, her final season. Ending her basketball career at the top of her game, the team’s all-time leading rebounder also won UT Tyler Female Athlete of the Year, ASC East Division Player of the Year, All- Conference, All-ASC East Division first team and ASC All-Academic.

This year, the 22-year-old senior spends more time in UT Tyler’s Ratliff Engineering and Science Complex than in the Herrington Patriot Center gymnasium. She has assisted the Patriots in an advisory capacity, but has focused on completing her bachelor of science degree in electrical engineering.

The Dallas-area native loves the game of basketball, but mathematics and science are her primary interests. And after graduation in May, she will begin applying her skills in math and science on another team – the engineering staff of the Lockheed Martin, a multinational aerospace manufacturer and technology company.

After completing her fourth summer as an engineering intern in the company’s missiles and fire control division in Grand Prairie, Buggs was offered a permanent position there, pending the completion of her degree. She will start her job as a systems integration test engineer on June 1.

“I have every confidence of her success in engineering whether her career path takes her into design, research or management,’’ said Dr. David Beams, UT Tyler associate professor of electrical engineering. The professor said Buggs exhibits some of the same strengths in the classroom as she did in basketball.

“Kasey is exceptional in so many ways that it is difficult to know where to start,’’ he said in describing her as a student.

“She is motivated, intelligent and hardworking. There are other students who combine those characteristics, but Kasey also has a unique teamwork ethic and spirit which I saw her display on the basketball court as well as in the classroom and the laboratory.’’

Buggs has worked hard and excelled both in and out of the athletics spotlight, said UT Tyler women’s basketball coach Terri Deike. “To be honest, we didn’t necessarily sell her on basketball. The opportunity to play with the Patriots was a deciding factor for her, but she chose UT Tyler primarily for its great engineering program. And once she came, we held on tightly to her,’’ said the coach, who recruited Buggs from Lake Dallas High School in 2004.

“She is the epitome of Division III,’’ Deike said of Buggs. “She wasn’t getting paid to play basketball. She didn’t get an athletic scholarship. She played basketball because she loved it. And academic excellence was her first priority; her team came second. She had one of the highest grade point averages on the team.’’

Deike asked Buggs for a copy of her employment contract with Lockheed Martin. The coach plans to show it to future UT Tyler Patriots as proof that they can perform well both academically and athletically and that hard work pays off.

A Change in Plans
Buggs planned to stay close to home after high school and attend The University of Texas at Arlington. She played basketball from seventh through 12th grade, but did not plan to play in college. That was before Deike visited her high school to recruit her to the UT Tyler team, which had just completed its inaugural season.

“Coach Deike was very persistent, saying ‘Come on, we have great things at UT Tyler, our program is just starting out and we could use you on next year’s team,’’ recalled Buggs, who already had been accepted to UT Arlington.

“My mom advised me to try out UT Tyler for a year and if I didn’t like it, I could move back home. I had a great time at UT Tyler that freshman year, so I told my mother I was staying here,’’ she said. “I think coming to UT Tyler was the best decision I could have made.’’

Not Surprised
Buggs’ parents suspected she would enjoy UT Tyler enough to stay.

Linda Buggs of Lake Dallas said she saw UT Tyler as an opportunity for her daughter to get a quality education in engineering while also enjoying and learning from the experience of intercollegiate basketball.

“I had some visionary anticipation of what attending UT Tyler would do for her. I also was familiar with Tyler, because my job takes me in the area, and knew she would probably love it. So I encouraged her to at least visit the campus. And once she visited, she loved it,’’ said Linda Buggs, who works as a State Farm Insurance zone manager in addition to serving as a minister and church administrator.

“Linda, Kasey and I visited UT Tyler and thought it was a great place to get an education,’’ said the student’s father, Keiffer Buggs, who resides in Jackson, Miss., and serves as Saks Fifth Avenue vice president of technology.

“Linda and I are both delighted that Kasey has attended UT Tyler,’’ he added. “She has grown so much, she’s getting an outstanding education and she’s accomplished a lot both on and off the basketball court. She’s a leader, she’s responsible. She has turned out to be a beautiful woman who has it together.’’

Great Experience
Buggs said she has enjoyed every aspect of UT Tyler, from academics to athletics to student life.

She didn’t know anyone when she came as a freshman, but quickly made friends. She also enjoyed her classes and found her professors to be approachable and easily accessible. And her team had a good season. “The first year, we won the division championship,’’ she said. “I thought to myself, ‘Yeah, this ring feels good…I’m not leaving.’ ’’

Buggs has maintained a full schedule throughout college, with her studies, basketball and summer internship occupying most of her time. On weekends when she didn’t have a basketball game, she returned home to play the drums for Sunday services at her church.

She hasn’t developed a specific strategy for managing her time.

“I think when you’re doing things that you love, everything just kind of falls into place,’’ she said in regards to time management. “I love playing basketball. If I didn’t, it would be hard for me to be motivated to practice every day and work hard. And I’ve always liked school. I like going to class and learning new things and being tested to see how much I’ve retained.’’

Buggs, whose favorite courses include electronic circuits and thermodynamics, became interested in engineering at an early age.

“Ever since I was little, I liked taking things apart, but I wasn’t that good at putting them back together. Needless to say, I got into a lot of trouble for that,’’ she said. “To me, that’s basically what engineering is all about – building and understanding more complex arrangements of components, taking them apart and knowing how to put them back together to work correctly.’’

Along with starting her new job after graduation, she also will prepare to begin graduate studies in the fall. And she is looking forward to spending more time with her family, including her sister, Michelle, who has returned to the Dallas area after completing her graduate studies at Bowling Green State University in Ohio. Michelle serves as assistant director of programs for intercultural services at Texas Woman’s University.

Buggs also plans to keep in touch with her “extended family’’ from UT Tyler, including her best friend and former teammate Jerinda Watson of Houston, who graduated in December with a bachelor of arts degree in health and kinesiology.

“People like Coach Deike, my best friend and my teammates are like family to me because they’ve been a big part of my life ever since I’ve been here,’’ she said. “I’ll never forget any of the people I’ve met here.’’

Her advice to future generations of UT Tyler Patriots?

“Everything that you face from day to day can be an opportunity for growth, whether it’s basketball, school, friendship … ,’’ she offered. “Don’t be afraid to open up to the opportunities life has for you.’

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