Hurdler Kim Carson to Enter Hall of Fame
Communications Student Assistant
Editor’s Note: This is the second in a series of features profiling the eight members of the 2015 LSU Athletic Hall of Fame induction class. The inductees are gymnast April Burkholder, track hurdler Kim Carson, athletic trainer Mike Chambers, javelin thrower Laverne Eve, women’s basketball player Sylvia Fowles, athletic trainer Herman Lang, swimmer Todd Torres and football player Ebert Van Buren. They will be formally inducted during the Hall of Fame ceremony at 6 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 4 in the L’Auberge Baton Rouge Events Center.
When talking about influential college athletes, there are many names that come to mind. People always hear about football, basketball, and baseball athletes making a difference, but there are also meaningful stories about athletes from other sports. You hear about how they leave an impression that resonates both on and off the field, and former LSU track and field athlete Kim Carson falls into that category.
Carson grew up in Iowa, where she started running at the age of five and developed a love of the sport. It seemed that track and field was a staple for the Carson family, as her older brothers and sisters were runners, and her dad was an All-American at Iowa State. Yet, despite having deep ties with her family and her home state, Carson ultimately chose to leave the Midwest and attend LSU.
“There was no other place where I thought about going,” explained Carson. “When I came on my visit, they were the national champions. My dad was also an official at the Drake Relays where I watched them, and I watched them run, so I fell in love with LSU track at a young age.”
While it was hard to be so far away from home, Carson quickly found that the transition wasn’t going to be as difficult as she expected. The track team was a family of its own, and that made it easier for her to adapt to a new lifestyle.
“When I first got there, it was more of the people (on the track team) who had graduated that mentored me,” said Carson. “Even though they were done, they still had pride in the program, and they mentored me and wanted me to be successful.”
Within Carson’s first years on campus, the impact of her arrival to the team was tremendous. Over the course of her career, Carson was a two-time national champion in the 55 and 100-meter hurdles. She was a seven-time All-American at LSU from 1993-1996, a four-time NCAA finalist outdoors, as well as a three-time NCAA finalist indoors. She also became the first freshman in LSU track history to score in an NCAA individual event in the 100-meter hurdles, placing sixth.
During her senior year, Carson was nominated as a co-captain for the team. Even a stress fracture in her foot couldn’t stop her that year as she set the American collegiate record in the 55-meter hurdles and had the seventh-fastest time in the United States in the 100-meter hurdles.
Carson contends that all of this wouldn’t have been possible without the help of others. Several people within the athletic administration and the coaching staff of the track team guided her. One person in particular was former LSU track and field coach Pat Henry, who nominated Carson as a Hall of Fame candidate.
“Kim Carson represented LSU on the NCAA and the world stage,” wrote Coach Henry. “Her class and character truly represented our program and LSU… Kim’s dedication to perfection was a characteristic that helped not only herself but those around her.”
“He was like a dad,” Carson said of Henry. “He was so encouraging, and he was great to compete for. He still remains a big part of my life.”
Today, Carson holds a variety of titles. She runs and directs organizations and clinics that help promote better lifestyles that range from combating childhood obesity to helping underprivileged children. She serves as a juvenile court community liaison that works with minority juveniles and their families. She also provides support and assistance in the areas of behavior management and crisis intervention.
“I used to volunteer with kids with special needs,” said Carson. “When I came back from (the end of my) running (career), I kind of fell into it. I started doing counseling and therapy, and I wanted to help people find their way. I’ve always loved it.”
Carson has also held the title of Assistant Track and Field Coach at Drake University and at DePaul University. She has even coached former LSU standout and Olympian Lolo Jones, also a native Iowan.
As Carson reminisces on her collegiate days, she acknowledges the talent that characterized those LSU teams and is reminded of the attitude and characteristics her teammates had that helped shape her into the person that she is today.
“Our team was stacked at LSU,” said Carson. “We had such great talent. Danyel Mitchell just killed it every time. My very best friend was DD (D’Andre) Hill, (people like) Kelly Flynn. They always looked out for me. Even the guys and girls traveled together, and the guys always had our backs.
“We really were a team. They were some of the most hard-working and thoughtful teammates. They left everything on the track. They had a championship mentality, and it carried on with everything in their lives. I wouldn’t change my experience for the world.”