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Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Why Purdue women’s basketball coach Katie Gearlds is devoted to the Kansas City Chiefs

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WEST LAFAYETTE — Purdue women’s basketball coach Katie Gearlds has made her message abundantly clear on who she’ll be cheering in the Super Bowl this Sunday.

The low bass chant of “Go Chiefs” from Gearlds has become customary for the smattering of media members who have covered Purdue women’s basketball this year.

Gearlds’ fandom for the Kansas City Chiefs is intentional and upfront. But where did this obsession for the reigning Super Bowl champions come from?

Becoming a fanatic of any sport is often a junction that begins at three roads. It often takes you to a team because of loyalty to a city, to a player, or to a coach. And for Gearlds, that devotion started with Kansas City coach Andy Reid when he was head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles from 1999-2012.

“I always loved the way he coached his Eagles team,” Gearlds said. “You watch his guys respond to him and that’s the way I want to coach. He’s always calm. He gets fired up when he needs to but the way his guys look up to him and respect him is the reason.”

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It also doesn’t hurt that Purdue and West Lafayette graduate defensive end George Karlaftis is on the team. Gearlds ranked Karlaftis as her favorite player.

Karlaftis was followed by quarterback Patrick Mahomes, tight Travis Kelce, former Chiefs/now New Orleans Saints player Tyrann Mathieu, cornerbacks Trent McDuffie and L’Jarius Snead, defensive tackle Chris Jones, running back Isaiah Pacheco and linebacker Derrick Thomas.

But Gearlds tied her love back to the Kansas City Chiefs through the fondness of a fellow coach. Reid is a leader she respects and tries to model herself after as she works with players and coaches. Reid’s mannerisms are a reminder to stay relaxed when games are close and pressure is felt.

“As a head coach you have to be a duck on the pond, your head above water,” Gearlds said. “Nobody has to see what’s going on under the water. Because if you are like that, then your team can mimic the calmness.”

Before the Super Bowl, Purdue (10-12, 3-8 Big Ten) will square off with No. 14 ranked Indiana (18-3, 9-2 Big Ten) on Sunday at 2 p.m. inside IU’s Assembly Hall. Purdue seeks its first road win at Indiana since 2012.

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