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ARKANSAS SPORTS HALL OF FAME: Moffatt blazed her own trails

by Troy Schulte | February 2, 2011 at 3:59 a.m.
Former Ouachita Baptist women’s basketball Coach Carolyn Moffatt (far right) compiled a 213-162 record with the Tigerettes in 1965-1984. She took Ouachita Baptist to several AAU national tournaments and became the first female coach inducted into the NAIA Basketball Hall of Fame.

— This is the second in a series profiling the 11 inductees into the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame. Ceremonies will be held Friday, Feb. 11, at Verizon Arena in North Little Rock.

Alvy Early was plenty aware he was entering a club as an outsider three decades ago.

After leaving a high school coaching job to take over the women’s basketball team at Arkansas-Monticello in 1979, Early remembers being one of just two male basketball coaches in the Association of Intercollegiate Athletics for Women.

And for a sport that was just starting to get its opportunities, some of the women coaches weren’t too pleased with a man edging his way into a possible employment opportunity.

“There was resentment from other women’s basketball coaches,” Early said. “Men coming in and taking those jobs, you can imagine what that was like.”

But Carolyn Moffatt never seemed to mind.

Early doesn’t know why, maybe because he used to bring West Fork track and field teams to meets at Moffatt’s Ouachita Baptist University campus in Arkadelphia.

Whatever it was, Early was welcomed by Moffatt with open arms.

“She never gave me that feeling,” Early said.

Early’s Cotton Blossoms and Moffatt’s Tigerettes - what OBU’s women’s teams were called at thetime - had several battles in the old AIAW and several more in the Arkansas Intercollegiate Conference.

Moffatt compiled a 213-162 record while coaching the Tigerettes in 1965-1984. She took Ouachita Baptist to several AAU national tournaments and became the first female coach inducted into the NAIA Basketball Hall of Fame.

On Feb. 11, she’ll be included among a group of 11 inducted into the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame during a banquet at Verizon Arena in North Little Rock.

Moffatt, who died in 2005, has left behind hundreds of former athletes and coaching counterparts who were inspired by the trails she cleared during a time when women’s athletics was in its infancy.

Lynn Hickey arrived at OBU in 1969 from Oklahoma, where her father coached all of her games. She never knew a woman coaching the game was possible.

“It just wasn’t something that women did,” Hickey said.

After an OBU career in which Hickey said her teams were “pretty good” and regularly ranked in the AAU’s top five, she began a coaching career that took her to head coaching positions at Kansas State and Texas A&M.

Since 1999, Hickey has been athletic director at Texas-San Antonio and is currently the only woman athletic director at an NCAA Division I school in Texas.

That’s a title she said she never would have had if not for Moffatt.

Hickey said she hadn’t heard about Moffatt’s latest honor, but thinks about her quite a bit. Recently she was giving a lecture to a class and mentioned her as inspiration.

“It’s hard to have a vision unless you see someone in front of you,” Hickey said.“She opened up a whole new world to me.”

Hickey said Moffatt always required hard work, but she was never a screamer. She doesn’t ever remember her getting in the face of a teammate.

A caring coach, Hickey called her.

Bill Vining, who spent more than 40 years at OBU as either men’s basketball coach or athletic director before retiring in 1996, said he remembers Moffatt getting fairly aggressive, but she never crossed a line.

Vining was men’s basketball coach when Moffatt was a player at Ouachita Baptist in the 1950s and said toward the end of her career “decided she wasn’t going to play as much,” so he asked her to coach.

Before Vining made Moffatt a full-time head coach, she coached on the high school level in Arkansas.

“She did an excellent job, and we give her credit for building the Ouachita basketball team into what it is today,” Vining said. “We appreciate her efforts and her leadership.”

Vining remembers the Tigerettes being successful most years in the AIAW, but when they joined the AIC in the late 1970s, the road through state schools got a bit more rugged.

Moffatt never had the benefit of scholarships, so when other state schools began starting programs, some had scholarships and others had cheaper tuition to make up for it.

Either way, it made it tough to recruit.

In a news release issued by Ouachita Baptist in 1985 to announce her selection into the NAIA Hall of Fame, Moffatt discussed the difficulty she had spreading basketball beyond Arkadelphia.

Starting a program “was like beating our heads against the wall,” she said. “We worked to get other colleges and universities, both major schools and small institutions, around the nation to start teams because there were worlds of talent out there.”

Sports, Pages 21 on 02/02/2011

Print Headline: ARKANSAS SPORTS HALL OF FAME Moffatt blazed her own trails


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