Katee Kemether has lived a unique and fascinating life so far, and it has only just begun.
To start with, she is named after a golf tee.
Yup, a golf tee, in honor of the sport that her parents — both women — play while Katee drives the cart. Mom Noreen Kemether also won a national championship as a college teammate of women’s basketball icon Anne Donovan.
Kemether has a 3.91 grade point average and 4.22 weighted GPA, leading to her recent induction to the National Honor Society. She is president of Hopewell Valley Central High’s Girl Up Club, which raises money and awareness for girls across the world in impoverished countries who lack the same opportunities as Americans.
Kemether has gone to Kenya with the Global Connections Club, which raises money for children of that country to have things like books, bikes, uniforms and so forth. In support of her parents —the other being Megan Adams, the true golfer of the bunch—Kemether is a member of the Spectrum club, which promotes wellness, exposure and equality for the LGBT community.
“Having two moms is honestly the best experience ever,” she said. “I’ve got two people that love me better than anyone in the world.”
Not to mention…
“It’s great on Christmas,” Kemether added. “They’re both really good at shopping and they both know what I want, so they’re really good at gift giving.”
When it comes to a possible career, Kemether did not have the typical goals of most youngsters.
“Ever since I was little, I dreamed of being an orthodontist,” said Kemether, uttering a statement one doesn’t exactly hear every day.
In the fall she plays tennis, in the spring it’s lacrosse.
Oh, and if that’s not enough, the pretense of this story concerns what a good basketball player she is.
“Basketball was always my favorite sport,” she said. “I guess it’s in my genes.”
Kemether is enjoying a standout junior season with the Bulldogs. Through Hoval’s first 10 games she was second on the team to Meggy Wiley in scoring (10.8 points per game) and rebounding (6.0) and second to Ally Oldfield in 3-pointers (21). At 5-foot-10, she can be found on the perimeter or underneath, depending on the situation.
‘I always loved playing basketball no matter how the game played out.’
“We try not to limit our players to certain traditional positions,” coach Jeff Losch said. “We like to give the girls freedom in our offense so that they can use their skills in the best way possible. Katee is tough enough and smart enough to play inside and grab some rebounds and play good interior defense. She’s also a good enough shooter to pull her defender outside and hit from deep. She’s a great weapon for us and makes the team that much harder to guard.”
It is a role that Kemether cherishes, figuring it gives her ample opportunities to impact a game.
“I like having more positions because if they need a certain type of play to be run for a certain type of person I can always be counted in on that; whether it’s post, or shooting or driving,” she said. “Having a well-rounded game means I’m more versatile and I can have more playing time.”
Kemether learned much about the game from Noreen, who won an AIAW National Championship playing with Donovan on Old Dominion in 1979 (before women had an NCAA tournament). She later played for Villanova. Katee proudly wears her mom’s national championship jacket at times.
“My mom likes to joke that basketball was my third word,” she said. “My first two were ‘mom’ and ‘food.’ She taught me a lot of the moves I use today. She’s the reason I started playing, and now I love it. It’s great, I can talk to her about it, she knows so much about it, she’s always a resource for me. She’s so encouraging and it’s great to have her there by my side.”
There were other tutors as well, such as the boys from the neighborhood. Because there were not enough females to comprise a YMCA girls team in Katee’s age group; she played in the boys league from 4th through 7th grade and got no favors.
“They definitely did not take it easy on me,” she said. “If anything, they went harder on me because they couldn’t handle being beaten by a girl. That just made me more competitive.”
It was those encounters that began to fuel Kemether’s confidence, which is a big part of her game in high school.
“I always loved playing basketball no matter how the game played out, and doing well against them just made it feel that much better,” she said.
AAU girls basketball came calling in 6th grade, and Kemether plays for the United out of North Hunterdon after starting with Allentown’s Mid-Jersey Mavericks.
In her freshman year, HVCHS was loaded with seniors and Katee played mostly for the JV.
“We could tell right then that Katee was skilled and loved the game,” Losch said. “We immediately moved her up to JV so that she could practice every day with JV and varsity. We knew she’d be a big part of our program in the future and we wanted to help get that started quickly. She worked her way up to some varsity time by the end of the season.”
As a sophomore, Kemether averaged 5.7 points and 3.5 rebounds while hitting 19 3-pointers. Those numbers are improved this year, and the swingman is also a tenacious defender.
She has never shied from working on her game. After moving from the perimeter to the block, Katee was initially too young to learn post moves so she focused on short jumpers and drives. From there her game expanded beyond the 3-point arc and she eventually began working on inside moves as her strength increased.
“I’ve always liked playing both spots,” she said. “When we have a lot of guards in, I play down low, but when we have our bigs in, I play up top. If I’m getting really heavily pressured by a guard I like to go in and post up, but if I’m guarded by a big girl I like to go outside and shoot and drive.”
She hopes that versatility will lead to a college basketball career and already has a few places in mind.
“It’s always been my dream to follow in my mom’s footsteps and play college basketball,” she said.
Much like that orthodontist dream, which Kemether guesses might have started during the two years she wore braces.
“I actually asked for braces and headgear, I was always that strange kid,” Kemether said with a laugh. “I interned at Doctor (Karen) DeSimone’s in Pennington. It was a great experience and it was really fun for me to do that.”
With her outgoing personality, intelligence, forthrightness and desire to help those in need — coupled with the ability to drive to the hoop — it was likely the latest in a long line of great experiences for Katee in her life.