Bates College has hired Kat McKay — a former St. Dom’s player and UMaine-Farmington, Poland and St. Dom’s coach — to lead its softball program. Phyllis Graber Jensen/Bates College photo

Kat McKay has been a standout player, a coach and an athletic administrator in the Auburn-Lewiston area.

She’s coached and played at the college level in other parts of Maine.

The next adventure on her softball journey was revealed earlier this month when she was named the head coach at Bates College.

“I am just excited at the opportunity,” McKay told the Sun Journal. “Bates is such a great school. It is such a well-known school, and to be part of it, I am really grateful.”

McKay initially joined Bates this spring as an assistant coach after leading the University of Maine at Farmington softball program for five years. She teamed with interim coach Sara St. Don, who took over for McKell Barnes, to lead the Bobcats to a 9-17 record.

“Her experience as a collegiate head coach and her familiarity with Bates and Maine will be an asset to our student-athletes,” Bobcats athletic director Jason Fein said in a news release. “Her coaching philosophy and intent to concentrate on the overall development of her students in every aspect impressed the search committee, and I know the team will be excited for her to get started.”



McKay was a three-sport standout at St. Dominic Academy. She was an all-state goalie in soccer and a McDonald’s All-Star in basketball.

Her springs were spent thriving on the softball field as a catcher. She helped the Saints win the Class C state championship in 2001, and they reached the title game the following year. In 2003, she was named Miss Maine Softball as the top senior player in the state.

She took a year off after her senior year of high school and eventually ended up at Central Maine Community College, where she played basketball while earning an associate degree in 2006.

She got married and became a mom. She also became a coach, first at St. Dom’s before being hired as the varsity head coach at Poland Regional High School, and led the Knights for four years.

In 2014, the mother of two decided to go back to school, attending the University of Southern Maine and earning a bachelor’s degree in Leadership and Organizational Studies.


While at USM, she also worked as an assistant athletic director and transportation director at St. Dom’s.

She also became a college softball player, joining the Huskies in 2016 — 13 years after her high school graduation — as a first and third baseman, and playing alongside and against players she once coached at St. Dom’s and Poland.

Shortly after the season ended, McKay was hired as the softball coach at UMaine-Farmington in June 2016.

In her first season leading the Beavers, 2017, they improved their win total by four games. Their 6-6 conference record two years later was one of their best of the decade. The 2021 UMF team started slow but finished the season on a six-game winning streak.

McKay left the Beavers after that season.

UMaine-Farmington won 12 games combined in the two seasons before she was hired. In five years — four seasons, because the 2020 campaign was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic — under McKay, the Beavers won 41 games.


“It was a great school, a great area, and the thing that really changed for me is my family dynamic changed and I just needed to be closer to my kids,” McKay said. “My kids are in the Auburn school system, and I was traveling from Auburn to Farmington every day.

“After five years of doing that, and my kids are getting older, it was just, I had to stop.”

McKay became a long-term substitute teacher for the Auburn school system and, to stay involved in softball, she was set to become an umpire.

Then she found out the Bates softball team was looking for an assistant coach.

“UMF (interim) athletic director Jamie Beaudoin reached out to me and said, ‘What are you doing? Bates is looking’ — and at the time I had just taken my test to be an umpire. I wasn’t going to coach anywhere this spring, and I wanted to umpire because I wanted to stay involved,” McKay said. “So when that email came through, I kind of hemmed and hawed … but I gave (Bates) a call, they pretty much said, ‘Yup,’ and hired me on the spot.”

Months later, she was hired to lead the program.


“This is a dream,” McKay said in a Bates news release. “I grew up 20 minutes down the road so I know Bates softball. You can’t grow up in this area without knowing Bates. I never thought I would have the opportunity to do what I love in my own backyard at such a great school.

“I am most excited about the team and the amazing amount of potential here. I look forward to building upon what has already been built and I couldn’t be more excited about it.”


McKay sees her role as Bates’ head softball coach as a way to give back to her community as well as an opportunity to lead an athletic program at a prestigious school.

She told the Sun Journal that she has received a lot of support during her first few weeks on the job.

“What I notice about the (Bates athletic department) is everybody has been helpful and eager to lend a hand,” McKay said. “I am coming in the middle of the summer, so coaches are out recruiting. But the (coaches) who have (been in the office) are so kind and welcoming and helpful in trying to get me up and going on my feet. 


“They know it has been a big transition going from a state school to a NESCAC. It is a big upswing, I guess. It’s been a big learning curve for me, and they have just been supportive.”

As she gets situated, McKay recognizes the challenge of recruiting as well as how important finding players who are the right fit will be to her and the Bobcats’ success in the coming seasons.

“You can’t offer these kids anything besides yourself and a great education, and that is where I am kind of at right now,” McKay said. “I can’t offer them money, things. They’ve got to come to school because, No. 1, they want to be at Bates or whatever school they are looking at. They have to like me as a coach. I have to sell myself.”

McKay said that since being hired to lead the Bobcats, she has experienced an outpouring of support from family, friends, former athletes and the community. 

“They know it is a big job, and I think that’s why they are so excited to see me do this and helping whatever way they can,” she said.

She has already been asked about Bates holding softball camps for younger players.

“I have people ask me about getting camps up and going so that we can have something for the youth in this area,” McKay said. “I am excited that people want us to do that or want me to help with that.”

“I would love to see Bates softball become more involved in the community that I grew up in,” she added. “These little kids look up to college players so much. I want to give back so much and still be involved here.”

Sun Journal sports editor Lee Horton contributed to this report.

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