By Gary Norris Gray, Staff Reporter
OAKLAND – These are the ladies that have taken the second half in hand and guided young women in the sport that they love with leadership. They will carry on the tradition of C. Vivian Stringer, Dawn Staley, Carolyn Peck, and Marion Washington.
Michelle Clark – Heard of the Western Kentucky Hill Toppers. Heard had rebuilt the program in Conference USA with four straight big dance appearances, That was not enough and Heard moved on to Cincinnati after seven years. This will be her first year leading the Lady Bearcats.
Felisha Legette-Jack at the University of Buffalo. Jack took the Lady Bulls to their first NCAA Tournament dance last year with a 27-5 record in The Mid American Conference.
My Favorite 1994 North Carolina Tar Heel guard Charlotte Smith. Smith led the Elon Phoenix of the Colonial Athletic Association into the Tournament last year. Smith became the CAA Coach of the year and winning the CAA Tournament and first NCAA bid in school history. Smith now teaches young ladies that steel trap defense from her Chapel Hill days. I still remember the last shot from the top of the arc to win the 1994 NCAA Title by Smith for the Lady Heels.
Joni Crenshaw Taylor- took over the spot of retiring coach Landers at the University of Georgia of the Southeast Conference in 2015. Last year the Lady Bulldogs lost six games all six losses came from other SEC teams so Ms. Taylor must be doing something right.
Taylor played for the Crimson Tide of Alabama at the center-forward position and guided them to two NIT-Women’s National Invitational Tournaments and two NCAA Tournaments.
She would return to Alabama as an assistant after stances in Troy and Louisiana Tech before landing the job in Georgia.
Nikki Fargas-LSU- another South East Conference member. Fargas was a student assistant coach under Pat Summitt in Tennessee after being part of the Lady Vols on the floor. She understood what the makeup of a solid team happened to be Fargus received the foundation for a future career in coaching at the University of Virginia with the responsibilities for recruiting, scouting, film exchange, player development, monitoring academic progress and camps all over the country.
In 2008 she got her chance at UCLA and defeated the second-ranked Stanford Cardinal in 2010. She was the Pacific 10 Coach of the Year. Fargus kept the Bruins in the Pacific 12 race year after year and The Baby Lady Bears were joining the men’s team in the NCAA Tournament.
LSU in 2011 wanted a good thing Nikki in a purple and gold jersey. The Lady Tiger administration just out bided the UCLA crew and Fargas headed for Louisiana in 2014.
Niya Butts- Head coach for the Arizona Wildcats for 8 seasons before returning to her old stomping grounds The University of Kentucky to be one of the assistants
Bobbie Kelsey-Grayson Graduated from the west coast basketball powerhouse the Stanford Cardinal and head coach Tera VanDerveer in 1996. She went to Boise State as an assistant and five other schools including Stanford before she received her first head coaching job in 2011 at the University of Wisconsin. It was a very difficult place to recruit and a very difficult conference.
Kelsey is currently back as an assistant in the WNBA and the Los Angeles Sparks.
Fargas has guided the LSU Tigers to three straight trips to the sweet sixteen and has kept the purple and gold consistent and on point with three straight 20 win seasons.
Daynia La-Force Mann– keeps climbing up the ladder. Ms. Mann played for the Georgetown Hoyas in 1991-95. She was part of the 1993 Big East Championship leading the Hoyas to the Sweet 16 in the NCAA Tournament. La-Force got her feet wet at LIU-Brooklyn and St. Johns University as an assistant.
She has run the step-ladder as a head coach going through each division with the University of New Haven Division 2 and Northeastern University Division 1. In 2014 she became the first African-American coach in any sport at Rhode Island.
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Gary Norris Gray – Writer, Author, Historian, Gibbs Magazine-Oakland, California and New England Informer- Boston, Mass. THE GRAYLINE:- The Analects of A Black Disabled Man, The Gray Leopard Cove, Soul Tree Radio In The Raw, and The Batchelor Pad Network, Disabled Community Activist. Email Glcgray@gmail.com
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