Tony Gutierrez, AP
"She had long braided pigtails and she was phenomenal," Trace recalls to the Washington Post of the former Louisiana Tech point guard who became the object of his affection when he was a freshman. "All the jocks ate at the training table and that's where I would see her, but she was a rock star and I couldn't talk to her."
His admiration may have remained a secret, if not for an admission during a show last year. The 'Million Dollar View' singer shared the story of his college crush with the crowd -- which happened to include Kim's sister, who quickly relayed the message to her sibling. Trace and Kim immediately struck up a friendship, but it wasn't until Saturday's game that they actually met face-to-face, prior to the game. But while the coach is certainly aware of who Trace is now, she admits she was a bit ambivalent about him during her college days.
"I didn't know him because he was some superstar football player, but what I did know, there were only two athletes who were ever that tall at Louisiana Tech: Trace and Karl Malone," Kim recalls. "So I knew, kind of, who he was. But not to the extent that I really paid attention."
Trace admits he finds their new friendship ironic. "It's really funny how this has all worked out," he laughs. "Just when I said that that night on stage, it was off-the-cuff and I was just telling a story ... I never intended for it to blow up and turn into this."
Trace might have more off-the-cuff tales to share when he hits the road next month for his Songs and Stories tour, which will include plenty of his hits, as well as a glimpse into his personal -- and colorful -- life. "I've had many narrow escapes and blessings in my life," he concedes. "The right song at the right time has been my saving grace and that's something I have in common with the audience. Sharing meaningful songs, stories and some laughs 'around the campfire' is the country music tradition and I'm looking forward to it."
The Songs and Stories tour will kick off on March 8 in Des Moines, Iowa. See the complete schedule here.