Basketball

Four-Peat’s Sake, Remember This Name

The sport is women’s college basketball.  And when you think about the women’s college game, names like Pat Summitt and Geno Auriemma come to mind.

Summitt has won eight NCAA championships.  Along the way, she won three consecutive titles from 1996-1998.

Auriemma has also won three consecutive titles among his six overall, those coming in the 2002-2004 tournament years.

Kim Muhl has topped them both in consistency, winning his fourth consecutive national championship with Kirkwood Community College of Cedar Rapids, Iowa March 20th.

Who?

I’ll admit it now; I’m more than a little biased.  I attended Kirkwood, and am a long time friend of the assistant women’s coach.  But putting that aside, this recent accomplishment likely flies beneath the radar of most and should be noted.

Kim is the head women’s coach at Kirkwood.  His team recently won their fourth consecutive national title (and sixth overall) at the National Junior College Athletic Association Division II level.  It’s probably not a stretch to say Kirkwood and the NJCAA doesn’t possess a large fan base like the NCAA teams do.  But to understand what is entailed in winning four consecutive championships at the junior college level, you have to appreciate the obstacles that make this type of success so notable.

In Division II where Kirkwood competes, you can give scholarships for books and tuition only.  That puts them at an immediate disadvantage when recruiting against Division I NJCAA institutions that are allowed to also provide housing and meals.

At a junior college, you have players a maximum of two years, which means you have to revamp your team every season.  No recruiting a player or two for depth at already established positions.  Junior colleges typically lose half their team every season.

Yet Muhl and long-time assistant Joe Hruska have won six national titles at the Division II level, tying Illinois Central College with the most of any school, at any level.

Individually, Muhl’s recent title puts him in a class by himself, passing Illinois Central’s retired coach Lorene Ramsey, who won five during her career.

If my math is correct, Muhl has an overall record of 624-112 during his tenure at Kirkwood, an astounding .8478 winning percentage.  He’s the winningest active coach in NJCAA Division II.  And he puts up results like this every year, with Kirkwood finishing no worse than 4th since the 2001-02 season.

A nice touch, friends of the program secretly raised in excess of $15,000 through alumni and fan donations and established the Kim S. Muhl Endowed Scholarship in his honor.  This was all done without his knowledge, with a surprise announcement occurring before a home game this past season.  This honor clearly illustrates the positive impact he’s had on former players (many have gone on to four year schools) and supporters along the way, and will be awarded to one women’s basketball player every season.

Something that rarely occurs even for retired coaches at the junior college level, it is a tribute not only to Muhl’s success, but his character as well.

A name you haven’t heard before?  You should remember it now.

Putting it all in perspective, I’ve only found one other college basketball coach in my research that’s won more than three consecutive national championships.  His name is John Wooden, who won seven consecutive titles at UCLA between 1967 and 1973.

Kim Muhl just won his fourth.  And counting…

Note:  After writing this article, I discovered that Washington University (St. Louis) coach Nancy Fahey won four consecutive NCAA Division III national championships (and five overall) between 1998-2001.

28 Comments

  • Ed in Cedar Rapids

    April 26, 2010

    This is so beautiful, to read heartfelt tributes from the people Kim Muhl has influenced over the years. For some in this world, it’s all about climbing higher, getting more and leaving the “little people” behind. Mr. Muhl has lifted many hundreds, maybe thousands of young women to better lives and more confident selves, one at a time. Kim might have made more money, gotten more headlines somewhere else. I doubt he could have forged more character and impacted more futures anywhere else. He has re-defined what winning, excellence and determination can look like at a two-year college.

    The ripples of those better human beings will move outward for generations. That is worth noting, worth celebrating. This article is a good step. Thanks for it!

  • Sami Allison

    April 22, 2010

    Having now known Coach Muhl for over ten years, I feel so blessed to have been recruited, coached, and am now friends with one of the most geniune and caring people around. I had the opportunity to play both basketball and softball for Coach and felt like my freshman year of college was without a doubt one of my most rewarding years. I had fun and learned not only about basketball but about life and the right way to live it! There really no one in the world like Coach! This article is wonderful and well deserved!

  • KML

    April 18, 2010

    Let us not forget an important and essential element! For his time, loyalty and sincere dedication, Joe Hruska has played an integral part in the Eagles’ success over the many years he has coached with Kim. Winning 6 National Championships is not a part-time effort, and just as players spend their offseason practicing and conditioning for the next season, Joe and Kim have worked tirelessly recruiting, watching tape, going to coaching clinics (etc) to ensure success year-after-year. Great thanks to Kim AND Joe!

  • Michelle Luhring

    April 16, 2010

    Great Article! When I look back there are very few people that I wanted to work harder for on the basketball court than this man. It is truly an honor to say that I had the chance to play basketball for Kim Muhl. Congratulations on 4 in a row!! Best of Luck on making it 5.

  • Laura "Harvey" West

    April 16, 2010

    Wonderful article and no truer words. As a former athlete of his, I can tell you that there are coaches that drive you to work hard and those that don’t. Coach Muhl not only gave you the time an attention you needed but he made a better athlete come out in you. Kirkwood is very fortunate to have such an amazing coach at this level. KCCKA!

  • Vanessa Vega

    April 15, 2010

    Reading all of the comments above is a true testament of the impact Coach Muhl has had on so many individuals! Not only his players, peers and staff, but just his fans in general respect the type of program that he runs and the type of person that he is. I was truly blessed to play for Coach Muhl and Joe for two great years! He is an amazing coach, mentor and friend and he is finally getting all of the attention that he deserves!! Thanks for writing this amazing article to honor a coach that will go down in the history books! So glad I was able to play for him!

  • Uthoff

    April 15, 2010

    Congratulations Coach…you are one of the classiest coaches I have been fortunate to know. It is honor for me to call you my friend.

  • Tom Dickey

    April 15, 2010

    Great and much deserved article. I’ve known Kim since he recruited one of the best players I’ve ever coached at Lone Tree. She went from being a great player to an outstanding college player. I try to attend Kirkwood games every year and marvel at the consistency, how hard the players play, their outstanding character, their pure love for the game, and how fundamentally sound his teams are. His teams model all these attributes because those attributes are what Kim is about. More people in Iowa and around the nation need to know about this outstanding basketball coach, but greater as a human being and ambassador for women’s athletics. I would recommend any player that wants to become the best they can be to play for Kim and Joe. Tom Dickey- former head girls basketball coach at Lone Tree, Iowa.

  • Robin Sullivan

    April 13, 2010

    Thank you for writing this amazing article! I am so priveleged to have played for Coach Muhl, and to be a part of a team that won one of those 6 National Titles! Coach Muhl is not only an amazing coach, but also a very loyal person and friend to each and every one of his players! I learned so much from Coach Muhl on the basketball court, but learned even more from him off the court and I take that with me in my every day life! Thank you Coach Muhl! Keep up the great work! Go EAGLES!

  • Ashlee

    April 9, 2010

    This is a great article. I have had the opportunity and pleasure to coach with and learn from Kim and Joe. I was amazed at what I learned in such a short time. I feel fortunate to be able to watch quality women’s basketball right here in Cedar Rapids!

  • Tom Lilly

    April 9, 2010

    Kim has graciously allowed me to attend practices and has been willing to take a day out of his schedule to run my team through a practice. This guy loves the game of basketball. he is a great ambassador for the game. He is more than willing to share what he knows. I am happy to know him as a mentor and a friend. He is raising the bar constantly and it will be up to his peers to raise their game to a higher level. Nicely done Kim…

  • Kathi & Rick Moss

    April 7, 2010

    We have been following this team for quite awhile. We are amazed at the transformation each year. Coach Muhl has a new group of kids each year to demonstrate his passion for the game. By February the young women play as a TEAM and show their own passion. Coach Muhl is remarkable with his abilities to teach and coach and gain the respect of so many. We are superfans and friends of the coaches and have gotten to know many of the girls. Great article, the recognition is well deserved. Keep it up Kirkwood Eagles! Rick & Kathi Moss

  • Mary

    April 7, 2010

    I had the honor to sit outside Coach Muhl’s office for four years as the Athletic Office Coordinator. He is truly an amazing, advisor, teacher, coach and mentor, not only to current students, but his former students and many of his colleagues. He took the term student athlete seriously and worked tireless with all of his players to assure they had their two-year degree when they left Kirkwood. I witnessed more than once his dedication to his non-athlete Kirkwood students in the classes he taught, as well. He would go that extra mile to serve as an advisor/counselor when they had “bumps in the road” and didn’t know what to do. He wants ALL of his students to succeed.
    Thanks, Jeff, for the well-deserved recognition you gave Coach Muhl. You did an amazing job!!

  • "Roach" Tuffly

    April 6, 2010

    Coach Muhl has been a huge influence in many young women’s lives, including mine. I had the chance to play for Coach and Joe on the softball diamond, during the years when they were doing double duty. There’s simply not enough space here to write all of the lessons I took away from my time under Coach. He is truly one of a kind and Kirkwood is so very lucky to have him and to have kept him all these years. I must say I fondly look back at the years I was lucky enough to have the chance to play for him. KCCKA!!

  • admin

    April 6, 2010

    Thank you Mike. And a wonderful recap of what Kim is all about. — Jeff

  • MRM

    April 6, 2010

    Yes, he’s a Great Instructor, a Fantastic Coach, a Wonderful Mentor and a TRUE FRIEND to many. As a Women’s Basketball Ambassador for the State of Iowa, he’s touched the lives of countless individuals not only here, but throughout the United States and several foreign countries. As student-athletes, his players learn the importance of an education. When you understand his coaching philosophy and his commitment to you as a person, your skills and abilities in and out of the classroom grow. This knowledge is then transfered onto the basketball court. Individual players excell through the strength of the team. Your time here at Kirkwood is short, but the lessons you learn from Coach Muhl will last a lifetime!

    Thank you Jeff for taking the time to write such a noteworthy article. You are a valued member of the Kirkwood Family and we truly appreciate your talents.

  • Jim Overturf

    April 6, 2010

    I have known Kim for several years and had the opportunity to be part of the coaching staff at Kirkwood. Kim is very dedicated and always gets the best out of his players. It was a great experience to share a office next to him and watch him work every day. He has worked very hard to get to where he is today and I know he is not finished.

  • Dennis Frese

    April 6, 2010

    Coach,
    I lived in Norway, IA when you were hired to be the baseball and girl’s basketball coach at Norway. I still remember watching your first baseball practice at Norway back in the late 80’s . I remember you subbing as the boys basketball coach one night when the head coach was sick and you had our kids playing at a different level and for one night you brought a lot of excitement to the boys team. I remember my nephew who is now a college baseball coach telling me thier was no comparison to the type of coaching you gave these boys one night. Thanks and good luck.

  • Julie Keith "Bakes"

    April 6, 2010

    Thanks for writing this wonderful article on such an outstanding basketball coach. I got the opportunity to play basketball and softball for Coach Muhl and it was the greatest 2 years of college for me. I LOVED playing for Coach Muhl and Coach Hruska, they were so dedicated and taught me so many things. I still keep in contact with Coach Muhl and Coach Hruska and I love to go and watch them in action! Coach Muhl is great for young adult women teaching them respect and hard work. Keep kicking butt Coach Muhl!!!

  • Ruth

    April 6, 2010

    Great article! How rewarding it is to see the names of former players and where they continued their basketball careers.

  • Kathy

    April 6, 2010

    Great article for a great man! I have had the privilege to know Coach Muhl since his arrival in September of 1989. Classes had already started when he was hired, no recruiting for his first year. His first team consisted of 8 players. Through mutual respect and hard work Coach Muhl led that team to the National Tournament, a first in Kirkwood Women’s Basketball history. Coach Muhl has a little of John Wooden, Pat Summitt and Geno Auriemma in him. Kim treats each of his players with respect and leads by example. He understands the game and is continually working on strategy and learning. He believes in defense and is able to get every ounce of energy out of his players. He believes that every possession counts. Coach Muhl will always find a way to win and he will have the team in the game to win every time they step on the court. He cares about his student/athletes graduating and has a high success rate. Coach Muhl works tirelessly to help each student/athlete find a new college to continue her career. He is extremely loyal to women’s basketball. He is, quite simply, the best! (Jeff, thank you for writing this article. You are still loyal to the Kirkwood Eagles and continue to make me proud to know you!)

  • Ryan Harris

    April 6, 2010

    This was an amazing article on Coach Kim. I’m really looking forward to next season.

  • Nancee Waterbury

    April 5, 2010

    What a wonderful article. Very true comments

  • Nicole Wood

    April 5, 2010

    As a former player of Coach Muhl’s and having the opportunity my sophomore season to be a student assistant, I got to witness first hand his unbelievable ability to coach. He is one of the most knowledgeable coaches I have ever been around. The best quality about him is that he is never satisfied. He is continually learning and trying to make himself and his team better.
    I have now doubt that Kim Muhl would in the same category as Pat Summit and Geno if he were at a NCAA D1 program. He is that good.

  • Toccara Ross

    April 5, 2010

    As a former player of Coach Muhl, I can attest to the work ethic demonstrated by not only the players but the entire staff, he recruits not only devoted athletes that compete every year for a national title but CHARACTER KIDS….

    great article!!!!!!

  • Kelly Wendel

    April 5, 2010

    Great article about Coach Muhl! I played for him from 90-92. It was the best time and I learned so much from him. I’m so glad they were able to win another championship! Thanks for sharing with the world and letting them know how great of coach he his as well.

  • Angie McCormick

    April 5, 2010

    He deserves to be recognized. Thank you for writing this article! Not only is he a great coach but a great person that helps each girl w/ more than just basketball but life lessons as well! I played for him and coached with him, he and Joe taught me a lot more than just basketball! Some of my best memories are during my Kirkwood years!

  • Judy

    April 5, 2010

    An excellent article – Coach Muhl is great — we had the opportunity to watch him in action many years and then our daughter got to play for him. She loved him and said he was the best coach she ever had. He brought out the most in all of the team. Thanks for writing this article on him.

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