Following an all-around athletic career at Glynn Academy, Vassa (Gus) Cate was a football and track star at the University of Georgia from 1937-39. Cate went on to become captain of Coach Wallace Butts' first team at Georgia in 1939, but he was equally renowned as a sprinter and hurdler in track, a high school coach and administrator.
In his sophomore season under Coach Harry Mehre in 1937 (freshmen were not eligible for the varsity in his day), Cate made a sensational debut, scoring eight touchdowns, all on runs of 30 yards or more, including a 50-yard punt return. In 1939, he returned a kickoff 95 yards against South Carolina which stood as the Sanford Stadium record for 34 years until 1973.
When Coach Mehre completed his 10-year tenure as Georgia head coach after the 1937 season, he picked an all-time Georgia team of his players that included Cate as one of the halfbacks. In track, Cate won the SEC 100-yard dash in 1938. He won the SEC 220-yard low hurdles in 1939 and set the conference record of 23.1 in 1940 that stood for 23 years. Selected on the All-Time All-Southern track team, Cate likely would have made the U.S. Olympic team in 1940 following in the footsteps of his coach Spec Towns, but World War II forced the cancellation of the Olympics in 1940 and 1944.
After graduation at Georgia, he served as assistant football coach and head track coach at Riverside Military School in Gainesville in 1940-41, his trackmen winning the state championship. He took over as head football coach at Waycross High in 1941, but when the Japanese struck Pearl Harbor Dec. 7, 1941, he joined the Navy and commanded a landing craft in both the Atlantic and Pacific theaters, retiring with the rank of Commander in the reserves.
Cate returned to Waycross after the war and had an outstanding football and track coaching record through 1954 when he moved to Calhoun High as principal and later became superintendent. In 1994, the Vassa Cate Athletic Center in Calhoun was dedicated in his honor to forever note his 26 years of devoted service to the athletes of the Calhoun City school system. Cate was elected to the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame in 1962.