TEMPLE, Texas — Coach Kim Mulkey is leading the Lady Bears to the top for the ninth year in a row, but she said her passion to win started way before she was the head coach at Baylor University.
“I knew at a young age that I love to compete in the classroom and I love to compete in sports.” Mulkey said.
That’s what she did both on the basketball court in high school and in the classroom. She graduated at the top of her class and was named valedictorian. Mulkey went on to play the sport she loves most at Louisiana Tech University. When Texas Today anchor Heidi Alagha sat down with Mulkey, it was the present she wanted to talk about, despite her being an Olympic gold medalist.
“I don’t even think about it. I come to work every day and I’m focused on winning basketball games,” she said.
One day she will look back at the memories she will always have, she said.
“Someday when I retire and I’m in my rocking chair, I may pull out the old scrapbooks or medals and show them to my grandchildren,” Mulkey said.
The Lady Bears have come a long way, but they haven’t always been the national powerhouse that draws a crowd to the Ferrell Center.
“When I took the job at Baylor in 2000, I kind of took in the approach, 'Surely I can schedule more than seven wins,'" Mulkey said. Little did we know in five years we would win a national championship.”
While Mulkey is fully dedicated to the job, she said family will always be her first priority.
“The one thing I never ever want is when I leave this earth, I don’t want my kids looking at me laying in that casket and say, 'Mom’s career was more important than us,'” Mulkey said.
She said she credits motherhood to her success and ability to bond with her players.
“I cry with them. I laugh with them. I demand things of them,” Mulkey said.
Her player, Kalani Brown, said the bond is mutual.
“She is more than a coach. She has the nurturing feel that a lot of people don’t see," Brown said. "Don’t get me wrong, she’s definitely going to push you beyond your limits and she has. And maybe at the time, I didn’t like it, but I’m a two-time All-American because of her.”
Mulkey has coached a generation of women, including Kalani’s mother.
Despite the challenges that come with the job, Mulkey said she has no plans to retire, just yet.
“It’s a job that’s so rewarding. It has the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. It’s not a job where you sit behind a desk and nobody knows if you’ve had a good day or bad day,” Mulkey said.
Win or lose, Mulkey said she is proud of how far her career has come.
“It’s been an unbelievable ride, it really has,” she said.
For Mulkey, winning isn’t just a job, it’s a lifestyle.