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La. Sports Hall of Fame – Commentary: Perrot’s former coach recalls her tenacity

La. Sports Hall of Fame – Commentary: Perrot’s former coach recalls her tenacity

La. Sports Hall of Fame – Commentary: Perrot’s former coach recalls her tenacity

Commentary: Perrot’s former coach recalls her tenacity

Mattie Williams lives in Detroit now. But her memories of Kim Perrot remain fresh – both from her days as Perrot’s girls basketball coach at Acadiana High School and from the times she was able to see Perrot play in the WNBA.

"I think that it’s wonderful that Kim Perrot is being featured," Williams said when told that Perrot will be inducted posthumously into the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame this month.

"Perhaps the word that pops foremost in my mind concerning Kim is tenacious. That attribute, coupled with her skills and a love of the game, made her a most formidable opponent. Kim played each game as though a championship were on the line. She practiced with the same enthusiasm that she played.

"As a freshman, Kim was an outstanding player, and I remember arguing at our end-of-the-year meeting with the other coaches of the district that she should be MVP. It was their contention that though she certainly was a remarkable athlete, she was only a freshman and had time to ‘grow’ into MVP status.

"Some even conceded that she probably was District MVP, but the honors (by a slim margin) went to a senior whose stats were less impressive than Kim’s."

Perrot was fearless on the court, no matter the opposition, whether she was playing basketball, volleyball or softball at AHS. She was no less focused in scrimmage action.

"Our girls team often scrimmaged the 9th grade boys’ basketball team during practices, and Kim was no less a competitor against the guys than she was with her teammates," Williams said. "I remember that often the guys did not want to guaard Kim if they played man-to-man because she usually managed to get her hand on the ball and score.

Perrot always seemed to be first to the gym and last to leave, a habit that didn’t change in the WNBA.

"About a year before her passing, I took my children to see Kim and the Comets play the Detroit Shock at the Palace of Auburn Hills here in the Detroit metro area," Williams recalled.

"Attempting to avoid a traffic snarl, we arrived about an hour and a half early. My son, who was about 5 the last time Kim saw him, had just turned 15. He felt that we had too much time on our hands before the game, but I assured him that if we went inside the Palace, we more than likely would see Kim out on the court practicing.

"Sure enough, when we went inside, there was a lone player on the court shooting jump shots. It was Kim. She and the guard were the only persons in sight. My son was so excited to see her that he instantly ran on the court to greet her, only to be halted by security. After Kim found out who he was, she stopped shooting, enveloped him in a big hug, and spoke briefly to him. Then she waved to me and told him to have a seat while she resumed her practice."

After the game, it was harder for Williams to get close to her former player.

"She sent me a message to see her after the game, and after the final buzzer, I introduced myself to her coach and requested to see her," Williams said. "He went inside the locker room, and a few minutes later, Kim appeared. Before we could get through our hellos – it had been about 10 years since I had last spoken to Kim – we were bombarded by Kim Perrot fans. During this "lovefest", she smiled and signed autographs and T-shirts (some of which bore Cynthia Cooper’s name and number).

"What was funny was that during this time, and through gritted teeth, she kept smiling and hissing to me, ‘See what you got me into?’ Later, I apologized to her because I had forgotten for the moment that Kim was a celebrity, but I was happy that she hadn’t lost her sense of humor."

Bruce Brown

Originally published in the Daily Advertiser, June 16, 2007