NASHVILLE --- Former Tennessee State men’s golfers along with the department of athletics will hold a ceremony to honor the achievements of history making golf coach Dr. Catana Starks Saturday morning in Hankal Hall.
In 1986, when Tennessee State joined the Ohio Valley Conference, former athletic director Bill Thomas traded the school's swimming program for a men's golf team. Starks was asked to steer the new squad. As a result, she made history.
Starks coached the TSU men’s golf team from 1986 until 2005 when she led the Tigers to a National Minority Golf Championship. The team shot a record-setting 840 as a unit.
Starks, who is an alumnus of Tennessee State and former classmate of the great Wilma Rudolph, guided many young men during her years in leadership. She coached Canadian Sean Foley, who was Tigers Woods’ swing coach; Sam Puryear, the first African-American men’s head golf coach in any major conference; and Robert Dinwiddie, who was an All-American at TSU and a member of the European Tour.
A native of Mobile, Alabama, Starks has the distinction of being the first woman and first African American woman to coach an NCAA Division I men’s golf team. Her story inspired a movie called “From the Rough” starring and the late Michael Clarke Duncan and Oscar nominee Taraji P. Henson, who portrayed Starks.
The movie was originally released in July 2011.