Southwest DeKalb head girls basketball coach Kathleen Richey-Walton is is one win away from reaching the historic 500-win career milestone. The Panthers have an opportunity to earn that victory Tuesday night against rival Stephenson and will close out the regular season slate at Holy Innocents’ on Feb. 9. Achieving the 500-win mark would be the latest milestone for coach Walton and her decorated career as the Panthers’ head coach. DeKalb Southwest DeKalb is 18-5 this season and is position to earn the top seed heading into the region tournament with just two games left. The Panthers are coming off a 25-3 season and are 13-1 in Region 5-4A. Southwest DeKalb previously defeated Stephenson 67-26 on Jan. 9 and a victory on Tuesday would set up a winner-take-all showdown with first-place Holy Innocents’ (17-6, 14-0) this Friday in the regular season finale.
Richey-Walton began teaching physical education and coaching basketball at Southwest DeKalb in 2002 and has achieved a 499-165 record in her 22 seasons at the helm. Coach Richey Walton has led the school to five state championships since 2008. She has also led the team to three state runner-up finishes during that stretch and has claimed six regional titles. For her efforts, Richey-Walton has been named the DeKalb County Coach of the Year more than 10 times since 2008. She has also been named the Bobby Cremins State Coach of the Year and was named the 2009 Black Coaches and Administrators National High School Coach of the Year. She was inducted into the Southwest DeKalb Athletic Hall of Fame in 2018, the Southwest DeKalb Teacher of the Year in 2014 and the Slippery Rock Athletics Hall of Fame in 2019. Richey-Walton serves as a president in the Georgia High School Association, is a faculty representative on the Southwest DeKalb High School Council and is a member of the Southwest DeKalb Leadership Team. Additionally, coach Richey-Walton established Southwest DeKalb’s varsity lacrosse program and made history in 2019 when the team became the first all-Black girls lacrosse program in GHSA history to reach the playoffs. Prior to taking over the Southwest DeKalb job, Richey-Walton coached at Slippery Rock University for two decades. While there, she coached SRU to its only PSAC title in 1986, won two PSAC West titles, reached PSAC tournament five times and led SRU to NCAA playoffs. Richey-Walton coached The Rock women’s basketball team to an overall record of 82-68 (.546) over six seasons from 1982-86. During that stretch, she led the program to five straight PSAC tournaments, won two PSAC West titles and led the program to its only conference championship in 1986. Her teams ranked in the top 20 in the national poll in both 1983 and 1986 with the 1986 team finishing the year ranked 16th in the final poll after reaching the second round of the NCAA Tournament. In addition to her coaching role at Slippery Rock, Richey-Walton also served as an instructor for classes in coaching basketball, softball, volleyball and tennis from 1982-88. She served brief stints as an assistant coach at the University of Wisconsin and the University of Iowa after earning her undergraduate degree from Ashland University and her master’s degree from Iowa before taking her first head coaching job at SRU in 1982.