Induction Year: 1990
Leslie Mulkey was an outstanding football player at Hammond High in the 1950s, when Jimmy Taylor of Baton Rouge High, John David Crow of Springhill and Billy Cannon of Istrouma were in the Louisiana prep spotlight.
Mulkey also played basketball – both in high school, and later on a city recreation league team.
That was how his daughter, Kim Mulkey, was introduced to the game that eventually made her the second female ever inducted into the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame.
“Every time he played, I was with him,” Kim recalled. “I'd go out and shoot baskets at halftime.”
When she was 12 years old, Kim Mulkey became the first girl to play Little League baseball in Hammond. But when she was picked on the All-Star team that was playing in a post-season tournament at Ponchatoula, the Little League commissioners decided enough was enough. They ruled she couldn't play in the game – or sit in the dugout.
Her dad hired a lawyer who got a temporary restraining order, but the Mulkeys withdrew it rather than put the eligibility of the other players in jeopardy. When she was told she had to leave the bench before the game, a teary-eyed Kim watched the game from behind the dugout as her teammates dedicated the game to her – and won it.
“I was embarrassed, and real hurt,” she said. “They made such a big deal of it – it was on television, and in the newspaper. I didn't try out for the team to get attention. I just wanted to play.”
When she wasn't playing basketball, she was taking dancing lessons (tap and ballet) for seven years, piano lessons for five and gymnastics for three.
In high school, she became the first Louisiana female to score more than 4,000 points in five-on-five basketball – and set a school single game record with 60. More importantly, she led Hammond to four consecutive state championships.
Mary Jo Castell was the Hammond High girls' coach in Kim's first two years. After she moved into college coaching at Southwestern Louisiana, Iwana McGee took over the coaching reins for Kim's last two seasons.
In her senior season, Kim averaged 33 points and eight assists per game. She also maintained a “Straight A” record in the classroom. The National High School Athletic Coaches' Association selected her Player of the Year.
“She could shoot and handle the ball, and she guided the players on court,” wrote long-time Baton Rouge sports writer Joe Planas. “I always remember that pigtail hanging down her back. She was the complete player of her time. She was certainly the premier guard of the time she played, and maybe the best of all time.”
Mulkey could have continued her torrid scoring pace at some of the universities that recruited her, but she wanted to play on a championship team – and she knew that the best opportunity to achieve that goal would be at Louisiana Tech, which had reached the Final Four two years in a row.
With the Lady Techsters, she had a different role as the point guard that won two consecutive national championships – and came within one basket of another.
Mulkey rarely scored in double figures because she didn't take many shots. Instead, she was a playmaker who broke opponents' pressing defenses, set up the Lady Techsters' offense, took defensive charges and made the defensive plays that helped the Techsters cap a perfect season with a 79-59 victory over Tennessee in the 1981 AIAW national championship game.
A year later, Tech wrapped up a 35-1 season with a 76-62 rout of Cheyney State in the first NCAA women's title game.
Between those championship games, the Lady Techsters reeled off 54 consecutive victories. Prior to one showdown with Southern Cal at Ruston, Kim spent the night in the hospital emergency room with the flu – but kept it a secret from Coach Leon Barmore, and had a career high 21 points in the Lady Techster victory.
In 1983, Louisiana Tech made a strong bid for another national title before falling to a Southern California team led by super freshman Cheryl Miller, 69-67, in the NCAA finals when Mulkey's desperation shot at the buzzer was off-target.
In the classroom, Kim maintained a 3.84 grade point average at Tech.
After the Lady Techsters reached the Final Four again in 1984, Mulkey and former Tech teammate Janice Lawrence played on the team that gave the United States its first gold medal in women's basketball at the Los Angeles Games. Mulkey made the Olympic team although her scoring average as a senior at Tech was less than 10 points per game.
“The Olympics is the ultimate in amateur athletics,” she said, “but I don't look at it as being any more important than my national championship at Tech or my high school championships. Each one of those achievements is the highest goal you can attain at that level.”
Louisiana Tech was 130-6 in her four seasons, and Mulkey won the Him Corbett Award as Louisiana's top amateur athlete in 1984.
She returned to Louisiana Tech as an assistant coach, helping the Lady Techsters win another national championship in 1988.
Mulkey married former Louisiana Tech quarterback Randy Robertson in June of 1987.
In 1985, golfer Clifford Ann Creed became the first female member of the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame. Kim Mulkey Robertson followed her in 1990.
As the Lady Techsters' assistant coach and recruiting coordinator, Kim helped Barmore keep the program at the level it attained during her playing career. But on Sept. 16, 1991, she achieved something that Barmore can't accomplish when she gave birth to seven-pound, 15-ounce MacKenzie Marie Robertson.
“She has a basketball rattle in her crib,” Kim said.
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