By Ken MacLeod
Blue Kinander, a member of the University of Tulsa women’s golf team that won the 1988 NCAA national championship, has a chapter spotlighting her career in golf and business in the new book, The Walk-On Method by Jim Roddy.
Roddy, a former basketball walk-on at Gannon University in Erie, Pa., chronicles the success stories of 31 walk-ons to various athletic teams throughout the country, tying stories together by common characteristics of fearlessness, commitment, perseverance and resiliency he found common to many with the guts to walk on and compete with scholarship athletes.
Editor’s note here. I covered Blue and that TU team 32 years ago now in my first year as a golf writer for the Tulsa Tribune and had no idea she was originally a walk-on. She came from Chicago and was a talented and hard-working golfer completely accepted by her teammates when I met her, a team leader and spokesperson.
Legendary Tulsa coach Dale McNamara remembers telling Blue and her family she was free to walk on but she had no scholarship money available. She earned a scholarship as she went on, however, bowling her coach over with her work ethic, dedication, force of personality and rapid improvement.
That 1988 team featured Kelly Robbins, who went on to be one of the most talented golfers on the LPGA Tour; Melissa McNamara, an NCAA individual champ, LPGA Tour winner and now one of the nation’s top collegiate coaches and a 2020 inductee into the Oklahoma Golf Hall of Fame; Maggie Kelt Roller, now the director of instruction at Cedar Ridge Country Club and one of the key figures in golf in our state with everything she does to promote and improve the game, and Caryn Lowe, a talented South African who is still playing professionally in her home country. They have all had national championship careers on top of what they accomplished at TU.
Dale remembers when Blue showed up to Tulsa, “she had the worst grip maybe I’ve ever seen on a golfer. Just a big overlap. I gave her a little ruler to grip because holding that teaches you a perfect grip and she carried that with her everywhere the first year. It never left her hand.
“Blue was just the hardest working and one of the most delightful young ladies we’ve ever had,” Dale said. “She was such a spark plug and lit everybody up. To get from where she came in to a good player on a national championship team tells you everything about her. In addition to her hard work she was just so much fun.”
Kinander wound up playing in 35 of 40 tournaments during her TU career, winning the Pat Bradley Invitational as a senior and had seven career top-10 finishes.
Roddy’s chapter on Kinander captures not just the grit and determination she displayed at Tulsa but her drive in her business career as well. Kinander and her brothers worked diligently to save and expand the family business Electri-Flex when her father passed away in 1991 and she has now been helping lead the company for more than 25 years as a Vice President.
We caught up with Blue at Melissa’s Oklahoma Golf Hall of Fame induction in 2019. She and husband Tim have two talented golfers of their own, Tee-K, who played at Ohio State, and Will, who played for Florida Gulf Coast. She, Melissa and Maggie have kept a close friendship over the years.
Roddy’s book can be purchased on Amazon here.