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Catana Starks, the First African American Woman to Coach a Collegiate Men’s Golf Team, Dead at 75

Dr. Catana Starks, a Tennessee State University golf coach and alumna, died on Sunday at the age of 75. She leaves behind a legacy of being the first African American woman to coach an all-men’s team at the collegiate level, reports WMC5 News.

Starks coached the TSU men’s golf team from 1986 to 2005, leading the team to a National Minority Golf Championship, where the Tigers

Catana StarksCatana Starks

shot a record-setting 840. During her time at TSU, she guided several players toward success, including Sean Foley, who was later a swing coach for Tiger Woods; Sam Puryear, who later became the first African American men’s head golf coach in any major conference; and Robert Dinwiddle, an all-American who later played on the European professional tour.

“She was a true advocate and believer in the term student-athlete,” Puryear said. “She helped make me a better student, athlete, and now coach. I am paying a lot of her messages and lessons forward.”

“She was a very humble woman, who was very reluctant to talk about her many accomplishments,” said Michael Critelli, one of the movie’s producers, according to WMC5. “One of the of the biggest challenges I had constructing her life story for the film was that she would not brag about what she had done. I would have to find out about her achievements from other people.”



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American sport has always served as a platform for resistance and has been measured and critiqued by how it responds in critical moments of racial and social crises.
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A New Track: Fostering Diversity and Equity in Athletics