When ESPN’s Carolyn Peck received the call inviting her to speak at the 20th annual First National Bank of Central Texas Tipoff Luncheon, she happily agreed. She talks basketball for a living, so the gig fell right in her wheelhouse.
She just had one condition — she wanted to see the Baylor Lady Bears practice.
That’s exactly what Peck did. She arrived in Waco Tuesday and sat courtside while Kim Mulkey held court at a Baylor practice, in Mulkey’s typical irrepressible style. At one point, Peck said, Mulkey quizzed one of her players on her knowledge of boudin sausage.
Watching Mulkey do her thing, Peck even wondered if the coach had a side gig as a standup comedian.
“I love it. She keeps her players engaged, because it’s entertaining and fun,” Peck said. “They don’t even realize that they’re here working, because that work is fun.”
Peck has worked with ESPN for 15 years following a successful coaching career that included a 1999 NCAA championship at Purdue. She relishes the chance to see teams practice, because it gives her a behind-the-scenes insight that helps tremendously when she’s broadcasting that team’s games.
“It gives me a lot of background, but it also gives me a reference point,” Peck said. “You see teams and how they start in the beginning, but then once it gets to be January, when it gets to be later in their conference season, you see the advancement and the progression of the team. That’s fun to watch, because I start looking at it from a coach’s perspective. Yeah, you want wins, but you also want to see your players improve. When I get to see that, that’s exciting for me.”
During Wednesday’s luncheon, Peck shared several stories from her days as a player, coach and broadcaster. “I’ve won a national championship and I’ve been fired, so I’ve kind of seen it all,” she joked.
Baylor’s Mulkey and Scott Drew offered short previews of their teams, as did McLennan Community College’s Ricky Rhodes and Kevin Gill. The Baylor teams will open their season Nov. 13 with a doubleheader at the Ferrell Center. The Lady Bears, ranked fifth in the USA Today preseason coaches poll, take on UT-Arlington at 6 p.m. that night, with the Baylor men to follow against NCAA tournament qualifier Stephen F. Austin at 8 p.m.
Both MCC teams open their seasons Friday in the MCC Classic at The Highlands. The women play Kilgore at 6 p.m., and the Highlanders take on Richland College at 8.
Another highlight of the program was the Waco Chamber’s awarding of a pair of scholarships to Vanguard’s Ben Martinsen and Rapoport Academy’s Sarah Chavez.
Additionally, the Baylor women’s radio broadcasting team of Rick May and Lori Fogleman won the Frank Fallon Award, presented annually to someone who has contributed greatly to the advancement of basketball in the area.