Fall 2021 SS Magazine

Baylor women's basketball coach Kim Mulkey reaches 600 career wins, keeps her faith

The Baylor Lady Bears handled Texas Tech 77-62 on the road Tuesday night to give coach Kim Mulkey her 600th career win in only her 700th game as a head coach — the fewest games for any men’s or women’s Division I head coach to reach that plateau. The Bears are now 24-1 on the season, ranked No. 2 in the country and well positioned to defend their title from a season ago.

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National championships and seasons with more than 30 wins have become the norm in Waco since Mulkey, 57, took over ahead of the 2000-2001 season. Expectations were low, as the Lady Bears had finished with a dismal 7-20 record the year before. To everyone’s surprise, Mulkey’s first Baylor team went 21-9 and reached the NCAA Tournament for the first time in program history.

In the 19 seasons with Mulkey on the sideline, Baylor has missed the NCAA Tournament only once (2003). During that time, the Lady Bears have captured the only three women’s basketball national championships in school history (2005, 2012 and 2019). The 2012 team, led by Brittney Griner, went 40-0. Baylor has eclipsed 30 wins on 10 occasions — each of the past nine years — and has become a fixture near the top of the women’s basketball landscape.

Mulkey has already built quite a legacy of all-time great players and teams, with the potential for many more in the years to come, and she’s done it all with a focus on faith amidst the pain of loss.

In one of the most trying episodes of her life a little more than two years ago, Mulkey’s granddaughter, Scout, was stillborn. A couple of weeks later, Chameka Scott, a former player and one of Mulkey’s first recruits at Baylor, passed away from colon cancer at 33.

“You keep your faith, you surround yourself with people who make you keep the faith when you’re at your lowest moment,” Mulkey told The Oklahoman about how she endured the hardships.

After Mulkey’s daughter, Makenzie, announced that her unborn baby was struggling to survive, Mulkey herself took to social media to reflect on God’s sovereignty and goodness:

“It’s times like this that you remember that God is running the show, especially when it comes to birth and death,” she wrote. “Makenzie and my son-in-law, Clay, have unbelievable faith! We will be accepting of what God’s plan is for Scout. This is our life and regardless of what the future holds, Scout will always be my first grandchild.”

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