Executive Producer Brenda VanLengen and the Real Media crew made the first stop of the Louisiana road trip in Baton Rouge on the campus of Louisiana State University. There, we were able to see Sue Gunter’s statue inside the Pete Maravich Assembly Center and interview two of her former teammates, Jill Upton and Doris Rogers.
Many basketball fans recognize Gunter from LSU, where she concluded a legendary coaching career with the Tigers with future WNBA stars like Sylvia Fowles and Seimone Augustus on the roster. She was an assistant coach for the Olympic team in 1976 too, which was the first year women’s basketball was included in the games. They may not, however, know about her time playing for one of the most successful AAU programs in the 50s and 60s. The team was Nashville Business College and it won 11 national titles including a stretch of eight in-a-row from 1962 to 1969.
Upton played with Gunter on that team, and their high school squad. We interviewed her in front of Gunter’s statue about their lifelong friendship and experiences on the court. Upton also coached the last national championship before the AIAW started in 1972.
In every year that Rogers played for Nashville Business College, the team won a national title. She reflected on that feat and her own memories of Gunter. She also reflected on winning a high school state championship in East Tennessee during the 50s.
Next, we met with Bob Starkey who served as an assistant coach under Gunter at LSU. He is now an associate head coach on Kim Mulkey’s staff, having returned ahead of the 2022-23 season. In his original stint with the Tigers, he coached both the men’s and women’s teams and helped develop Fowles, Augustus and even Shaquille O’Neal. He shared great stories about talking basketball and the history of the game with Gunter. He also revealed that he has a ball signed by the 1976 Olympic team that he received after her passing.
We also took some time to catch up with Mulkey, who has a tremendous history in Louisiana. She won four high school championships there in the late 70s and then attended Louisiana Tech, where she led the Lady Techsters to the final AIAW Championship with all schools participating in 1981 and the first NCAA title in 1982. She has great memories of her legendary coaches at Tech, Sonja Hogg and Leon Barmore.
We have several more interviews planned on this trip so stay tuned! We will be updating our social media and the Gallery page too.