In her four years on the Kansas State women’s basketball team, Kendra Wecker received three All-Big 12 First-Team awards and a Big 12 Player of The Year in 2005. Wecker now has basketball in her rear-view mirror, working in oil and gas in Oklahoma, but how did she get there?
As a Kansas native, Wecker made a name for herself at a young age. Growing up in Marysville, Kansas, just an hour from K-State’s campus, Wecker always played football at recess with the boys, where her athletic ability really shined.
As a 12-year-old, Wecker participated in the NFL’s Punt, Pass and Kick challenge, where she qualified for nationals and placed top-four in the country, again competing against boys. Wecker then appeared in an NFL commercial about women in sports.
“I was 12 and the first female to ever make it to the finals, and the media made it a really big deal. Up until that point in my life, I competed against boys my entire life, outside of softball and basketball,” Wecker said. “I played football at recess with my classmates; I played flag football in fourth, fifth and sixth grade, so making it there wasn’t anything new to me. Yes, it was a surprise, but I always competed against boys. I remember Kenny Mayne and ESPN came to my hometown, and I got to hang out with them for a day. NFL Films came and filmed a commercial about girls in sports, and I just so happened to be the main character for that topic. They actually aired the commercial in the divisional round of the NFL playoffs.”
Along with getting a commercial, Wecker was asked to be on multiple talk shows, such as Good Morning America and The David Letterman Show.
“It happened all at once,” Wecker said. “I was asked to be on the David Letterman Show, which I declined: I guess I didn’t decline, my dad declined for me. But I actually was on Good Morning America, and ESPN did a thing.”
Wecker attended and graduated from Marysville High School. While in high school, Wecker played in the 2001 WBCA High School All-America Game, where she competed against talents like Monique Currie and Brittany Jackson.
“It was a great experience for me about what the next level was going to be like,” Wecker said. “I had played with and against Nicole Ohlde, which gave me some pretty good insight. It was kind of an eye-opener for me because for the first time, I was like, ‘OK, all these girls are athletic like me, and some are even way better.’ But, I came in, and I had my work cut out for me, and I knew this is what it would be like at the next level.”
Wecker became a part of a historic group of K-State women’s basketball players, becoming acquainted with coach Deb Patterson and having the chance to play with both Nicole Ohlde (whose jersey is retired) and Laurie Koehn (who has recently been inducted in the K-State Hall of Fame.)
“I wanted to stay close to home — that was really important to me. I wanted my family to be able to come to watch me play. I also really liked head coach Deb Patterson,” Wecker said. “Coach Patterson, Laurie Koehn and Nicole were two big parts as well, as to why I chose K-State. Being able to play with both Nicole and Laurie Koehn was big for me. We developed a really great friendship, and we built a great on-court relationship together. I just thought to myself, ‘OK, we can go and do something special here.'”
In her four years at K-State, Wecker received All-Big 12 First-Team three times and won Big 12 Player of The Year in 2005.
“I think it was just my desire to be successful. I wouldn’t even particularly say that I did anything outstanding, I had a good season, yes, but really, it was kind of just a factor of the offense,” Wecker said. “I set goals for myself when I got to K-State. My first goal was to win Freshman of the Year, and I didn’t win that, so I feel like that kind of pushed me going forward. Not to mention Nicole won it the year before, and I wanted to win it just like she did.”
After her time at K-State, Wecker was drafted fourth-overall in the 2005 WNBA draft to the San Antonio Silver Stars. In the first professional game of her career, Wecker tore her ACL. She spent two years on the Silver Stars before being waived, later signing to play in Barcelona, Spain. Wecker signed again with the Silver Stars, then the Washington Mystics.
“It was a hard transition for me being a professional. I got switched from a power forward to playing a two-guard,” Wecker said. “I went from setting screens to coming off of them while handling the ball, and that was kind of a hard obstacle to get over, but then I tore my ACL in the first game of my career, and I was never kind of the same. I got the chance to see the world a little bit, it was fun though … it was an all-around great experience, and I am thankful that I got the opportunity to play professionally.”
When her playing days were over, Wecker furthered herself into basketball, becoming an assistant coach at the University of Oklahoma under head coach Sherri Coale. After she was done coaching, she did some personal training before joining the oil and gas business in Oklahoma.
“After I got done playing basketball, I went to grad school at OU and wanted to coach,” Wecker said. “I worked under coach Coale for two years and thought that was what I wanted to do. After a while, I just kind of decided that this wasn’t for me. There was a lot more to it than what I was expecting. The on-court stuff was great, the in-game stuff was great, but it was the constant recruiting all hours of the day that was just a lot. Not that I didn’t want to dedicate my life to it, because that was what I had done up until that point. I did a little bit of personal training, I coached some teams in the summer on my time and finally, I had a friend help me get into the oil and gas business down here in Oklahoma and that is where I have been for a while now.”