NASHVILLE --- Tennessee State golf alumni, friends, former students and members of the TSU athletics department gathered to honor former men's golf coach Dr. Catana Starks during Homecoming week.
The tribute paid homage to Dr. Starks' acheivements and influence during her tenure as the men's golf coach at TSU. The short program began with opening remarks from former Tiger golfer Sam Puryear before Director of Athletics Teresa Phillips had words.
Former players had the opportunity to share stories from their time at TSU and offer gratitude to Dr. Starks. Before the conclusion of the event, Dr. Starks had remarks.
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.