BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Kevione Moten is no stranger to adversity.
Growing up in New Orleans, the Louisiana Tech senior and her family were forced to flee from their home twice, once during Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and then during Hurricane Gustav in 2008.
Following Hurricane Katrina, Kev and her family moved to Shreveport. She attended Caddo Middle Career and Technology School for a year before moving back to New Orleans. After all, the Big Easy was home.
Just not for much longer.
Gustav hit landfall in south Louisiana on the morning of September 1, 2008. Kev and her mother Risha and other family were once again forced to evacuate to the north. They relocated to Monroe this time. Kevione enrolled at Ouachita High School and picked up a basketball for the first time in the summer of 2010 for an AAU team.
It was the start of a new path in life for Kev. In the short term, the sport became a safe haven for a young lady who had the height to catch any basketball coach’s eye. In the long run, it provided a path for a free college education and chance for more personal growth – both on and off the court.
“The game of basketball brought a lot of great people into my life that still supports me no matter what,” said Kev. “It made everything easier on me because I became known for something other than being ‘that tall girl from New Orleans.’ It provided me with relationships that turned into friendships, not just teammates.”
Katrina and Gustav caused Kevione to learn to adapt to new environments at a young age. The hurricanes might have also prepared her for the at times tumultuous ride she has experienced playing for three different head coaches during her four years of college basketball at Louisiana Tech.
“The adversity in my life has made me a better person,” said Kevione. “I used to run away from my problems. But now, I understand that I can handle it. I’ve learned to speak up through adversity in a positive way. I used to think negative thoughts like the world was against me because something bad always happened. Now, I look for something positive out of it.”
Great life lessons.
After earning all-state honors and leading Ouachita High School to a 30-3 record and the quarterfinals of the state playoffs her senior season, Kevione made the short trek down I-20 to Ruston to play for then LA Tech head coach Teresa Weatherspoon.
Her freshman season saw her earn very little playing time. Following the conclusion of a season that saw the Lady Techsters post a 12-20 record – the worst in the program’s 40-year history – the University relieved Weatherspoon of her head coaching duties.
Enter the Tyler Summitt era. Kevione played two years for the son of legendary Tennessee head coach Pat Summitt, showing signs of emerging into a more stable role on the court. During one 10-game stretch during her sophomore season, Kevione became almost unstoppable at times, including scoring a career-high 17 points on 8-of-8 shooting in a win over Rice. She registered three double doubles during the stretch, one against C-USA champion WKU in Bowling Green, Kentucky.
However, the roller coaster ride continued for Kevione. Her junior season saw reduced playing time and a decrease in production. And the end of the season saw Kev once again part of a coaching change as Summitt resigned.
Once again, Kev was in the middle of a storm. And although this one didn’t include high winds and life threatening conditions, it did bring plenty of uncertainty with it.
However, Kevione was able to pull from the experiences of the coaching change following her freshman season to help keep herself and her teammates together.
Tech hired Brooke Stoehr two weeks after Summitt’s resignation to steady the ship, marking the third head coach in four years for Kev. She said she has used the constant transition as part of her maturation process.
“I have grown to be patient through adversity and realize that I could not do it all on my own,” said Kev. “I became closer to family members, friends, and my teammates. Through it all, I have met some great people. I became closer to God by reading my bible and going to church. I realized there will many obstacles that I will face, but every obstacle that I face always helped me in the long run.”
As the sun begins to set on Moten’s four-year career in Ruston, the 6-foot-4-inch forward will lead her team into this week’s 2017 Conference USA Tournament in Birmingham. Tech – the No. 4 seed – opens play Thursday at 3 p.m. against the winner of No. 5 Charlotte and No. 12 Marshall in a game that can be seen online at campusinsiders.com.
It could be Moten’s last week of competitive basketball. But for the first time in her career at LA Tech, she feels her team has a legitimate chance to keep their season and hopes for a post-season berth alive.
Despite limited playing time this season, Kevione’s contributions are a big reason why the Lady Techsters have won seven of their last eight games and earned a first round bye. Though her contributions aren’t always measured by a stat sheet, her head coach said they are just as important as a double double.
“Kev comes to practice every day with a smile on her face and always tries to help those around her smile,” said Stoehr. “She gets along with everyone and genuinely cares about the success of the team. Kev is a very selfless young woman. I love how she interacts with her teammates, our staff and fans. She always puts the team before herself.”
It was a “team first” conversation that Kevione had with Stoehr in mid-December that remains engraved in the mind of the Lady Techster head coach.
Louisiana Tech had just lost another heart-breaker during the non-conference portion of the schedule, falling at Memphis 56-54 just six days before Christmas. It was a game that saw Tech make a late run to tie before self-destructing in the final few seconds.
It was an all-too-common theme for Moten and her Lady Techster teammates during the half of the season. The following day after the loss to the Tigers, Moten walked into Stoehr’s office and her message to her head coach hit home.
“She said that she wanted this year to be different,” remembers Stoehr. “She said she wanted to do whatever it took to help this team win. I think it’s challenging for a student-athlete to have the amount of change in a career that Kev has experienced. But she has been a great teammate and representative of our program since we arrived in Ruston. I am very appreciative of her willingness to believe in what we’re trying to build.”
If you ask her teammates, every one of them uses similar adjectives to describe the senior member of the roster.
“Kev is such a special person,” said junior Ashley Santos. “Her loyalty to this program speaks for itself. But it’s her ability to be a friend, no matter the circumstance, is what I’ll always remember. Her character is genuine and her motivations are selfless. It’s been a pleasure to be her teammate for three years.”
“I think Kev has been very encouraging and positive even when things aren’t so pretty,” said junior Alexus Malone. “If I need someone to brighten my day or need that little extra motivation Kev is the person I will look at. She will always have that huge smile to lift me up. She’s probably the most consistent hard worker we have on this team and although she doesn’t play a lot she still comes to work hard because she wants us as a whole to get and be better.”
“Kev is a great team leader and team player,” said freshman Anna McLeod. “She’s so selfless and always smiling. She’s always doing anything and everything she can for the betterment of the team.”
Selfless. Leader. Loyal. Genuine. Positive.
Words that everyone would love to hear used to describe them.
Through 29 regular season games, Kev has scored 31 points and grabbed 26 rebounds in 88 minutes of action. And although she will be admit she would love to see more playing time, she is the first to focus on the team goal of winning. And she has happily accepted her role of providing support on the bench until her number is called in a game.
“I would have liked to play more, but one thing I have done is stay positive through it all,” said Kev. “I am all in. I cheer for my teammates. I encourage them on the court so that they can perform well. I don’t do it only for myself, but I do it for my team, our fans, and all those kids watching.”
“Kev has come in and gotten some big rebounds and blocks defensively for our team at some critical times,” said Stoehr. “She has been coachable and has really tried to do the things we’ve asked of her on and off the court.”
“Kevione is the epitome of the word ‘coachable’,” said fellow senior Rochelle Vasquez. “I think that’s been her biggest contribution to the team. Her unselfish way of approaching everything in life is what has helped her handle these past four years in such a mature manner. Playing ball is always about the team, and Kevione truly understands what it takes to put the team first.”
As the Conference USA Tournament starts this week, Kevione Moten and her teammates won’t walk into the 12-team event as the favorite to win it. They know they will face adversity as the week progresses … which is nothing new to Kevione Moten.
Win, lose or draw, one thing is certain. Kevione Moten has done her best on the bench and on the court to make sure this year was different than her first three.