Landers Remembers Budke's 1999 Championship Team
Mike Hammett - Wed 06:35 PM 03/21/2012
Kurt Budke opened his basketball head coaching career in the junior college ranks, sending two years at Allen County Community College in Iola. Budke’s teams compiled a 47-15 record before he left for Trinity Valley Community College.
Budke took over the Cardinal program before the 1993-94 season, and immediately led them to a national championship. Budke’s teams would go on to win three more national titles, finishing on top in 1996, 1997 and 1999. Kenya Landers was a standout point guard on Budke’s 1999 championship team, which finished their season at the Bicentennial Center.
“He was tough on me, but he would put his arm around me when I needed it,” Landers said. “He was a father-figure to me for a lot of years in my life. Coming from a player’s perspective, there is nothing more that I could have asked for.”
After Landers’ playing career was over, she moved into coaching as well. After Budke had accepted the head coaching job with the Oklahoma State women’s basketball program, Landers joined him as an assistant coach.
Landers said the experience has been invaluable.
“He really taught me that every single day and every single thing is not the end of the world,” Landers said. “One thing that he really showed me and taught me was that a soft heart sometimes can take you a long way.”
Landers, along with her husband, Michael, was named co-head coach of the Trinity Valley women’s program prior to last season. The Cardinals are undefeated this season, and play in the NJCAA quarterfinals on Thursday at the Bicentennial Center, following Budke’s footsteps.
“He paved the way,” Landers said. “He gave so many young ladies the opportunity to be successful, maybe when they didn’t have anything else in their life to turn to. He gave them an opportunity and he gave them a chance. There’s a lot of former Lady Cards that you can ask, and they will tell you that he gave them a shot when nobody else would.”
Over Budke’s seven years at Trinity Valley, the Cardinals built a record of 226-16, winning four national championships, finishing runner-up twice, and appearing in six straight NJCAA national tournaments, which remains a record.