NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – The inspiring story of former Tennessee State University golf coach Dr. Catana Starks will air on BET Her this weekend.
“From the Rough,” which highlights how Starks became the first woman to coach a men’s Division I golf team while at TSU, is scheduled for 8 p.m. Eastern on Saturday, Feb. 17, and 4 p.m. Eastern on Sunday, Feb. 18. BET Her, a spin-off of Black Entertainment Television, targets African American women.
“This is excellent,” says Starks. “I believe this will inspire young girls especially, and other people who may watch it, to really strive to do your very best at all times. Never give up. That was my motto.”
“From the Rough” was released in select theaters in 2014. Michael Critelli, a producer who helped develop the film’s story, says he’s excited about the new national exposure the movie is getting.
“This is almost like a re-launch of the film,” says Critelli. “It’s a movie that gets across a timeless theme … about people believing in themselves.”
In the film, Academy Award-nominated actress Taraji P. Henson portrays a fictionalized version of 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 a 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.
When Tennessee State University joined the Ohio Valley 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 woman in the nation to coach a men’s golf team.
Starks, who retired in 2011 as head of TSU’s Department of Human Performance and Sport 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).
“She gave me that guidance and that leadership that I needed, “ says Puryear, who currently has his own business, and teaches golf. “I give her a lot of credit for my success.”
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With more than 8,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 bachelor’s degree programs, 25 master’s degree programs and seven doctoral degrees. 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.