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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University and former golf coach Dr. Catana Starks will take over the big screen when From the Rough opens nationwide on Friday, April 25.
The film highlights the powerful story of Coach Starks as the first female golf coach of a Division I men’s team while at Tennessee State University. Through grit and determination, she overcame incredible odds to guide a group of golfers to a championship season.
“This is an amazing story about an amazing woman, and the entire Tennessee State University family is so proud of her,” said University President Glenda Glover. “Equally important is the fact that the HBCU experience is being shared with a broader audience.”
Academy Award-nominated actress Taraji P. Henson will portray a fictionalized version of Coach Starks named Cassandra Turner. The character parlays a successful stint as coach of a women’s swim team at a historically black university into a shot at building the men’s golf team. With the availability of black players scarce, Turner scours Europe, Australia and Asia for hidden talent and constructs a uniquely multi-racial team.
According to Starks, the production of the film has been in the making for years.
“I was really pleased and I thought it was a great idea,” Starks said. “I am a shy person; I don’t even like taking pictures, but I think it’s good to have a female being honored in this way.”
When Tennessee State University joined the Ohio Valley Athletic Conference in 1986, then-Athletic Director Bill Thomas traded the University’s swimming program for a men’s golf team and called on the leadership of Starks to guide the program. Starks then made history becoming the only African-American female in the nation to coach a men’s golf team.
Starks has coached a diverse group of players throughout her career, including Canadian Sean Foley, who is currently Tigers Woods’ swing coach.
Foley believes Starks had a big impact on his life, as stated in an ESPN article.
“Coach Starks has a Ph.D.,” Foley said. “She’s well-educated… I used to sit in the front of the bus with Coach. We would ride for hours and hours. She always saw something in me. She always knew I was going to do special things in some form. She didn’t know what I was going to be.
“As I got little older, I looked back on Coach. She was so impressive. I should have spent more time trying to figure out how she did it all. To see what Coach accomplished, and became as a professor at the university, and all that stuff is really something.”
Starks, who retired in 2011 as head of TSU’s Department of Human Performance and Sports Sciences, guided the team to a Division I record win for the National Minority Championship. Under her guidance, the team also produced the first African-American men’s head coach for Michigan State University (Sam Puryear) and an All-American, who is a member of the European Tour (Robert Dinwiddie).
“Hopefully this will draw more African-American females into coaching on the collegiate level and coaching the opposite sex,” Starks said. “Men have been doing it for many years and I think there are a lot of great women out there who probably could do a much better job than I have done. I hope this film inspires other women to try their hand at coaching.”
President Glover agreed, adding that that Starks’ story is one of perseverance, hard work, faith and excellence. She also acknowledges that this is just one of many remarkable stories to emerge from TSU.
“This is a great opportunity for TSU to publicly acknowledge another chapter of our institution’s storied and proud past,” she said. “Today, we soar to new heights as our students, faculty and alumni continue to accomplish great things in academics and athletics.”
TSU will make it a From the Rough weekend providing transportation for students to see the movie in local theaters. The school has also encouraged alumni across the country to support the film.
“Dr. Starks’ contributions to Tennessee State University as an alumna, faculty member and coach are nothing short of incredible,” said Cassandra Griggs, director of TSU’s Office of Alumni Relations and Annual Giving. “These extraordinary stories play out every day among our university community, and we are so thankful of all that Dr. Starks has given to this university. I know our alumni nationwide join us in our excitement and look forward to supporting this film highlighting yet another dynamic TSU success.”
The movie From the Rough opens nationwide in theaters April 25. See the attached list of current markets, and check local listings for show times in your area.
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About Tennessee State University
With nearly 9,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 undergraduate, 22 graduate and seven doctoral programs. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.