By STEPHEN HAWKINS, Associated Press
WACO, Texas (AP) — Country music star Trace Adkins' latest performance was for his college crush.
Adkins sang the national anthem before the top-ranked Baylor women played Texas A&M on Saturday. The Lady Bears are coached by Kim Mulkey, who was a pigtailed point guard for national champion Louisiana Tech when Adkins was a freshman walk-on football player there.
"Now my secret's out that I've had crush on her for 30 years," Adkins said before the game
When doing a cover version of the song "One in a Million" during a concert last year, Adkins relayed the story of his college crush. After Mulkey's sister later attended one of his concerts, she got him on the phone with Mulkey and they struck up a friendship.
They were formally introduced face-to-face for the first time before Saturday's game.
"She had long braided pigtails and she was phenomenal," Adkins recalled of their college days. "All the jocks ate at the training table and that's where I would see her, but she was a rock star and I couldn't talk to her."
Adkins said Mulkey didn't even know who he was when they were at Louisiana Tech.
On Saturday, she escorted Adkins to midcourt, and he kissed her hand before Mulkey went back to the bench. He then performed the anthem a cappella with his deep voice.
When Mulkey was asked if she noticed Atkins when they were in school, the singer laughed and told her not to lie and say she did.
"I didn't know him because he was some superstar football player, but what I did know, there were only two athletes who were ever that tall at Louisiana Tech, at that training table," Mulkey said. "And it was Trace and Karl Malone. ... So I knew, kind of, who he was. But not to the extent that I really paid attention."
The Louisiana natives have both gone on to excel in their chosen professions, and have become big fans of each other.
Adkins first relayed his story about his crush after seeing Mulkey on the sideline when watching Baylor play in the NCAA tournament on television last year.
"It's really funny how this has all worked out, and I never would have thought," Adkins said. "Just when I said that that night on stage, it was just off the cuff and I was just telling a story, I never intended for it to blow up and turn into this."
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