When she was a teenager, instead of doing odd jobs like babysitting or working as a life guard, Patterson was busy breaking down film of Lumberton Pirates boys' basketball games and soaking up whatever basketball knowledge spilled out of her mother, longtime Red Springs girls' coach Eva Patterson-Heath.
That training helped Patterson, who is coordinator of basketball operations for the Baylor University women's basketball team, do what she's always dreamed.
"Basketball is all I really know," Patterson said. "Watching film and coaching basketball is what I love and what I know and what excites me.”
Patterson, 30, was a four-year letterwinner and two-time team captain for the North Carolina A&T women's basketball team before graduating with a degree in public relations in 2001.
She earned her master's degree in education with a sports management emphasis from Baylor in 2004.
While in school at Baylor, Patterson served as the program's graduate assistant was responsible for film exchange, coordinating recruiting correspondence and visits.
After coaching stops at Creighton, Ball State and Eastern Illinois Patterson returned to Baylor in April of 2008.
"I knew from the first time I hired Rekha as a graduate assistant that her attention to detail was exemplary," Baylor head coach Kim Mulkey said. "Her resume was perfect. It had no typos or grammar errors, and that’s rare.
"When she finished being our GA I wanted to keep her on staff but didn’t have a position for her. As soon as one came open, she was the first person I thought of."
“The biggest thing I do is to make sure our players are good, whether that be academically or on a personal level," Patterson said of her responsibilities at Baylor. "I do a lot of on-campus recruiting. I cant do any off-campus recruiting or sending any letters at this time, but once they get on campus I show them around and hang out with them. I try to make sure things move smoothly. I'm a fire stopper."
With Brittany Griner, the top ranked prep player in the high school class of 2010 enrolling at Baylor in the fall, Patterson has had a lot of fires to put out.
"All of the leg work on her recruitment had been done before I got here," Patterson said of the 6-foot-8 sensation, who has gained notoriety from dunks posted on Web site Youtube. "We just have to understand that she is the No.1 player in the country and still highly sought after. Her dad has called a couple of times and people have tried to start Web sites. So, we had to contact our compliance office, to make sure we’re not putting her career in jeopardy."
Patterson, who often studied film with her stepfather, former Lumberton High boys' coach Tim Heath, has had an influence that extends beyond Waco and the Big 12.
Her mother, a soon-to-be inductee into the Robeson County Athletics Hall of Fame, sometimes talks strategy with her daughter. That's resulted in some uncanny similarities between the Red Devils and Baylor.
"We talk sometimes after games," Patterson-Heath said. "There are a lot of things that we run in our half court set that we have gotten from her.”
But it turns out that Patterson-Heath has more than a subtle affect on her daughter's coaching technique. Patterson turns to her mom for advice pertaining to off-the-court matters, such as how to keep young people motivated and how to deal with problems they may have.
And all the practices with her mom as her head coach — she was a standout player for Red Springs — certainly have shaped Patterson's coaching style.
"I catch myself saying things that my mom would say or reacting how my mom would, whether it’s her mannerisms or words," Patterson said. "Then I’m like ‘Oh my god, that’s something my mother would do.’"
Baylor was in North Carolina this weekend playing in the regional semifinals. The second-seeded Bears were denied a shot to play for a Final Four berth when they were upset by third-seeded Louisville on Saturday.
Patterson-Heath was looking forward to seeing her daughter on the sidelines.
“Oh shoot, I’m just hoping that I can contain myself.," Patterson-Heath said. "We were excited when she got her masters and now she’s back and working with hall-of-famers. We’re just going to be cheering for Baylor. No red and white and black this weekend. We’ll be in our green and proud parents in the stands.”
In her fifth year as an assistant coach, Patterson dreams of one day being a head coach. But she's in no rush.
“A year removed from college I was thinking I can’t be an assistant coach for too long," she said. "This is my fifth year and I have so much to learn. I’m in a great place with a great coach and great players. I would like to be calling my shots and running my own program.
"I can’t say that in five years I’ll be a head coach and I can’t say I won’t either. I just want to make sure I’m ready.”
When asked about her daughters chances of becoming a Division I head coach, Patterson-Heath responded with confidence.
“She'll be a head coach, no doubt. It’s just a matter of time."