Kayla Noto and Katie Philippi find love through Loyola athletics


Biology senior Kayla Noto (left) and her girlfriend, Katie Philippi, A’17, pose after Noto recieved her 2017 championship ring. Both individuals meet while playing athletics at Loyola. Courtesy Kayla Noto.

Rosha'e Gibson

For Kayla Noto and Katie Philippi, The Den is more than just their field of play but also where their more than two-and-a-half-year-old relationship began.

Noto is a biology senior, spending her last few months as a guard for Loyola’s women’s basketball team, and Philippi, A’17, has been her biggest supporter, even when she was wearing maroon and gold for the school’s volleyball team.

Their relationship began slow, as the two athletes started off as friends before seeing themselves as a couple, especially since both athletes were in a relationship at the time.

Noto said that towards the beginning of her sophomore year, she and Katie ran into each other a couple of times and were informally introduced at a meet and greet event at Rock ‘n’ Bowl bowling alley.

“I said hello in passing,” Noto said. “Katie was bowling on the complete opposite end of the place than me so I walked over, I didn’t say anything, I went back to my team and she went back to hers.”

Noto said from then on, they shared many random interactions, especially a tweet that would have them grow closer to one another.

“I was the president of my sorority my senior year and they had all that flooding that happened in Baton Rouge that year so I suggested that Greek Life do a raffle so that people could donate to the cause,” Philippi said. “They just so happened to raffle off an Apple Watch and I ended up winning.”

Philippi received a tweet from Noto later that day about the watch which led to their future conversations.

“From then on, we kind of just chatted about sports or about what was going on at the time and became friends,” Noto said.

The two became closer and closer until they saw their chance to be in a full-fledged relationship.

Noto said, “Eventually, both our relationships ended for their own reasons and we were together by October of 2016.”

Noto said that she would’ve originally never dated an athlete, but Philippi has changed her outlook.

“Now it’s something that I couldn’t really see having to explain everything to someone,” Noto said. “There are things that Katie doesn’t know about basketball and that I don’t know about volleyball, but it’s not really that hard when you have the intuition from playing forever.”

The two athletes shared a relationship through their respective sports seasons, something that helped keep them motivated.

“We started dating towards the end of my season, but from the beginning of my season, she came to every single home game even before we were anything,” Philippi said.

Philippi said she enjoyed how connected Noto was to her sport, despite being a basketball player.

“By the time we started dating, I felt like she already knew what I was talking about,” Philippi said. “Something with the game or if I was discouraged with my performance, she always something positive to say or some type of way to encourage me to keep moving forward.”

Noto found time to cheer on her girlfriend from the sidelines and provide a type of motivation that only another athlete could.

“She was a constant factor of encouragement and support throughout my whole senior season so happy to be here with her for hers,” Philippi said.

Just as Noto attended all of her home games, Philippi attends Noto’s home basketball games and streams the away games online.

“I’m happy for her whenever I see her play,” Philippi said.“I know it makes her happy to be on the court. I’m just happy to be there to support her.”

The two-way support and love is something that originated within Loyola athletics, and has continued even through grad school, as Philippi seeks out higher education.

“She’s definitely my biggest fan in all aspects of life,” Philippi said. “I’m going back to school so she’s a very big factor for me with that as well.”

Philippi provides the same support to Noto as she has plans for her future once she’s finished playing hoops at The Den.

“Our plans are big and our next couple of years are going to be crucial for both of us going back to school,” Noto said. “(Philippi is) my rock. We support each other in school and she has always supported me in basketball and me of her in volleyball.”

Noto plans to apply to medical school after she graduates and Philippi wants to support her on her journey.

“I know that her time is going to be pressed when it comes to studying for the MCAT,” Philippi said. “I’m looking forward to watch her pursue her dreams and to be there every step of the way and every way I can.”