Twilet Malcolm — a pioneer in UL women’s track and field program — died Wednesday after a three-year battle with pancreatic cancer at age 50.
When 30-year-old UL track and field assistant coach Tommy Badon recruited Malcolm out of San Jacinto Junior College before the 1990-91 school year, there was no real reason to believe he would land her.
UL’s women’s track program was only five years old at the time and in shambles with only eight athletes left on the squad.
Some athletic events just have more significance than others, and quite often, it’s not entirely about the action on the field of play.
Malcolm, meanwhile, was part of a national championship team at San Jacinto in the same region in Texas as Blinn Junior College, where Badon was coaching before returning to UL.
As Badon remembers it, Malcolm was a long jumper at San Jacinto.
“She wanted to be a sprinter there, but they were so loaded that the coach didn’t need her be sprint,” Badon said.
So Badon told Malcolm she could sprint, long jump, run relays … pretty much whatever she wanted to do if she came to Lafayette.
“She trusted me because she knew me,” Badon said. “I told her I could help her become a top sprinter.”
In their first year together, Malcolm helped turn around the program immediately, finishing second in the Sun Belt Conference. After redshirting her second year at UL, Malcolm and the program took a bigger step forward.
Editor's note: By all standards, the 2018-19 athletic school year was a disappointing one for many UL programs. This is the fifth of a 10-part…
She helped the Cajuns women win both the Sun Belt indoor and outdoor championships. The UL men performed that same feat that year to be the only school in Sun Belt history to sweep the indoor and outdoor titles in both men’s and women’s in the same year.
“Twilet was a very demanding athlete,” Badon said. “She definitely kept me on my toes. If she was going to work hard, then everybody around here was going to work hard as well. She wasn’t going to let anybody lag behind.”
That approach worked quite well.
Malcolm still owns school records in the 100 (11.17 seconds), the 200 (22.93), the long jump (20-feet, 10.5 inches), the 4x100 relay (44.80) outdoors as well as indoor records in the 55-meter dash and long jump.
She was the first UL women’s track athlete to earn All-America status, finishing fourth at the NCAA meet in the 100.
Malcolm was also the first UL women’s track athlete to be inducted into the UL Athletics Hall of Fame in 1999.
As a senior, Malcolm competed in the 100, 200, 4x100, 4x400 and the long jump at the Sun Belt meet.
“She was a beast,” Badon said.
After her career at UL, Malcolm married former Cajuns football player Patrice Alexander and the couple settled in the Houston area.
Malcolm was an educator for many years and later owned a Crossfit gym. The couple have two children — 23-year-old son Shamal and 19-year-old daughter Jurney.