Southern's Linda Kilpatrick has won more games than any other girls basketball coach in Anne Arundel County history, and she's set to reach another major milestone in the coming days.
In her 38th season at the Harwood school, Kilpatrick is on the verge of her 500th career victory.
With a 499-378 career record, she already has the most wins among active girls basketball coaches in the Baltimore metro area. On the all-time list, Kilpatrick trails only Lin James, her good friend who retired last season after winning 608 games in 48 years at North Harford.
Kilpatrick, who could win No. 500 with a victory over Arundel at home on Friday, has coached the Bulldogs to five state championships and taken them to the state tournament 13 times.
"I think the thing I'm proudest of is, in every decade that I've coached, we've gone to the final four," Kilpatrick said. "So, I'm the proudest of consistency. And you have to play the hand you're dealt. I'm not St. Mary's, I'm not any of the private schools where I can entice players to come here."
Southern senior Jordyn Brown says she would not trade her coach for any other.
"She really listens to us when we say something, and she'll take it under consideration and see what's best for us as a team. She's always there for us, and she'll go out of her way for us," Brown said. "It would be cool to be on the team that gets her 500th win. It would mean a lot, because she's done a lot for me."
Kilpatrick, 60, never strayed far from home. She was a student at Southern and although she sent resumes all over the county after she graduated from Maryland, her alma mater was the first to respond.
She made a life doing the only things she ever wanted to do — teach physical education and coach — while raising two children and surviving the years when many phys ed teaching positions were dropped.
When Kilpatrick was in high school, she was inspired by athletic director Tom Albright, who won 550 games coaching the Bulldogs boys basketball team.
Back then, Anne Arundel County didn't have girls interscholastic athletics. The girls competed in intramural-type events and round-robin tournaments against other county schools on Saturdays. Kilpatrick played basketball and every other sport she could.
She went on to play at Anne Arundel Community College in a similar system, and then played basketball and competed in the shot put at Maryland. All of that came before Title IX was implemented, providing equal opportunity for women and girls to play sports.
Kilpatrick has coached some of Anne Arundel County's most successful programs, also winning three state titles in girls lacrosse. She is a member of the Anne Arundel County Sports Hall of Fame and the Anne Arundel Community College Hall of Fame.
She credits her ex-husband, Michael Kilpatrick, with helping her coach in the early years. His was the first invitation she sent for her induction into the county Hall of Fame four years ago, an event also attended by 11 of the 12 players on her first state title basketball team in 1979.
She had chances to move on to the college coaching ranks, but she never did because she had two young children.
"I was happy with what I was doing," she said.
Kilpatrick coaches only basketball now, and enjoys guiding this season's young team as it grows. The Bulldogs (7-10) will try to avenge an early-season, seven-point loss when they tip off Friday at 5 p.m. against Arundel, whose coach Lee Rogers is second on the area's list of active coaches with 470 wins.
"I kind of feel like if you stay around long enough, your numbers are going to go up," Kilpatrick said with a laugh. "And you just keep rolling with the numbers and see how it goes. I really don't think about it. It's no big deal. There's so many other things that mean so much more to me in basketball than the number of wins.
"I'm just glad I'm still here to get some more, and if I keep coaching, I'll stay ahead of some people, but if I don't, they're going to catch up just like with one of my great mentors, Pat Chance. She was a great coach, and I surpassed her winning record in Anne Arundel County, and when I stop, somebody's going to surpass mine."
Kilpatrick will be the fifth area girls basketball coach to hit a double-zero milestone this winter. Catonsville's Mike Mohler won his 400th game and Milford Mill's Detoiya McAliley won No. 200 earlier this week. Dunbar's Wardell Selby and Howard's Scott Robinson won his 300th earlier this season.