My first glimpse at Missouri's new head basketball coach was just of his legs as he got off of the plane at the Columbia Regional Airport. Before this day I never thought I would be waiting outside the airport and taking photos through a fence, but it happened. And if given another chance I would do it all over again.
I was definitely apprehensive when Anthony Kristensen, the Missouri men's basketball beat reporter, asked if I could go out with him to the tiny Mid-Missouri airport. Not to mention this was the second time he asked. And I was a little doubtful that we would ever see a plane land. But on March 22, 2022 it happened. The only good photo I got was of the plane itself. Dennis Gates and his family were quickly taken off the plane, put into a car and driven out of the airport. Not to be seen till the next day, when it was announced that he was the new head coach of the Missouri Tigers.
I then quickly jumped at the chance to actually see the man in person. And was assigned to cover the press conference later that day.Those were two days that I'll remember for a long time.
Potential coach Dennis Gates arrives at Columbia Airport on March 21, 2022 in Columbia. Missouri fired their former head coach, Cuonzo Martin, on March 11.
Dennis Gates talks to the media on Tuesday, March 22, 2022 at Mizzou Arena in Columbia. Gates led Cleveland State to two Horizon League Championships and back-to-back post season appearances.
Dennis Gates hugs his daughter, Avery, on Tuesday, March 22, 2022 at Mizzou Arena in Columbia. Before accepting the job at Missouri, Gates was the head coach at Cleveland State for three years.
Dennis Gates was named the head coach of the Missouri men’s basketball team on Tuesday, March 22, 2022 at Mizzou Arena in Columbia
Jocelyn Gates looks back on Tuesday, March 22, 2022 at Mizzou Arena in Columbia. Jocelyn Gates is a Senior Associate Athletic Director for Sports Administration at Ohio State.
Dennis Gates talks to the media on Tuesday, March 22, 2022 at Mizzou Arena in Columbia. “When young people go through transition, you have to think about their hearts,” Gates said of his message to his current team.
Avery Gates runs around on Tuesday, March 22, 2022 at Mizzou Arena in Columbia. Dennis Gates has three kids, Avery, Duke and Denver.