What a week it’s been for Kim Mulkey. She got the call to be a finalist in the 2020 class of the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame. Then, she made history. She became the fastest coach in men’s or women’s Division I hoops to win 600 games.
“My team stopped me and gave me a group hug, ” says Mulkey.
Mulkey’s road to this destination goes through three National Championships, and multiple conference titles. But, it all started in Ruston, Louisiana. And, with the legendary Leon Barmore as her head coach.
“I felt like I was a million miles away from home, ” Mulkey reflects. “I became homesick. And, when you’re not playing as much as you’d like as a freshman it makes being homesick even worse.”
Each year Mulkey was in a Techster uniform, she was in the final four. She was also a part of two National Championships. After her collegiate days, Mulkey earned a Gold Medal in the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles.
“It was a tremendous era of women’s basketball at Louisiana Tech in the early 80’s, ” says Mulkey. “Memories galore. I will never forget those memories. And, the games and the players I played with.”
After her career, she served as Barmore’s assistant. For 15 years, the duo led the team to an additional Championship, and a spot in the NCAA tournament each year. But, in 2000 she made the difficult choice to leave Ruston.
“I begged the President Dan Reneau, with snot flying out of my nose, I begged him for a five year contract, ” remembers Mulkey. “Then, I realized ‘you know what, he’s not budging. I’m not budging.’ I walked out of his office. I took the Baylor job. And, I cried many of nights. I have a principle about me.”
Despite her success at Baylor, Mulkey never thinks what could’ve been in Ruston.
“I thought to put all of that in perspective. Louisiana Tech was not going to be in a ‘Power Five’ conference, ” Mulkey says. “And, how difficult it was going to be to follow a legend like Leon Barmore. And, that’s why the five years was so important.”
Kim Mulkey, a champion on the court and in life.
Kim Mulkey, a champion on the court and in life. Despite being over 300 miles away, she never forgets where it all started.
“Maybe we didn’t have the resources that schools have now. But, we were still able to be one of the best in the country, ” Mulkey reflects. “I don’t have to be told how wonderful it was. I was a part of it. And, I won’t ever forget it.”