SPRINGFIELD, Mo–Former Missouri State Lady Bear players are coaching at all different levels in womens basketball.
From the high school ranks, to division two, to major college programs.
But being able to come home makes that dream even more special.
And for one Lady Bear the coaching trail led home.
Kenzie Kostas doesn’t have to look far to see evidence of her legacy in the Lady Bears program.
A brand new banner adorns the north wall of Missouri State’s practice gym.
“It’s pretty cool to walk in and see. But the hall of fame weekend was actually the first time I saw it, which was just this year. So I had seen pictures of it, but got a chance to come see it. And now I get to see it everyday,” said Kostas.
You’ll remember her as Kenzie Williams.
The Mt. Vernon native played for Missouri State from 2012 to 2016.
She made 119 starts and was a three time All-Missouri Valley player.
And finished her career in the top ten in scoring.
Kenzie led the Lady Bears back to the NCAA tournament in her senior season.
Kostas:”Going to play in the NCAA tournament. That’s kind of what we all came here for. So that was definitely one. But then you know just the memories I made with the team and the coaches and that kind of thing that made lifelong friends.”
After her playing career, Kenzie went into coaching.
She spent five seasons as an assistant at D2 power Central Missouri.
The Jennies won 105 games during her tenure, including the 2018 national championship.
Last year she joined former Lady Bear assistant coach Jennifer Sullivan at Florida Atlantic.
When Beth Cunningham took over at Missouri State, Kenzie knew it was time to come home.
“That first conversation went great. It was a long one. But she wanted to get to know me. And what I knew on the court. And what I knew off the court and things like that. And then I think once I got offered the job, I was on a flight at 6am the next day. And coming here ready to work. So it was awesome. It was crazy but it was awesome,” said Kostas.
“She just has a passion and love for this university, for this program and there’s no substitute for that. so to be able to bring somebody back that had that kind of success she’s had. And the kind of experience she’s had. that’s something that’s going to be awesome,” said Lady Bear coach Beth Cunningham.
Kenzie married former Bear football player Alex Kostas.
And Kenzie’s loving her other job as mother to Eli who was born in September.
“Crawling a little bit, working on it. He’s kind of a big guy so he’s definitely working on it. And talking and laughing and smiling. So it’s a lot of fun, it’s definitely my favorite, favorite thing to do, go home and spend time with him,” said Kostas.