Barbara Farris – Greater New Orleans Sports Hall of Fame
Basketball Player, 1990-2009
St. Martin’s Episcopal/Tulane University/WNBA
Dobee Plaisance was coaching a girls’ AAU team in the summer of 1991.
She knew she had something special in an awkward 6’2” 13 year old.
Dobee was right.
“I thought she could have the opportunity to play at the next level and maybe even the level after that,” said Plaisance. Right again. Barbara Farris went from St. Martin’s to Tulane University to the WNBA to travelling the world in summer ball.
The dream started watching TV with her father, Alvin. “He loved to watch the Lakers.” says Farris. “I was a big fan of the Georgetown Hoyas.”
During her three years playing for Plaisance at St, Martins, she was a two-time all-Louisiana high school player. Farris led her team to back-to-back state titles as well as a perfect record when she was a junior.
She chose to stay home for her college career, where she became one of the greatest female athletes in Tulane history.
“I loved my time at Tulane,” says Farris. “I loved every minute of it.”
And Tulane loved her right back.
Farris led the Green Wave to one of their most successful eras in the school’s basketball history as Coach Lisa Stockton’s team played in four consecutive NCAA tournaments. Averaging 16.7 points and 6.8 rebounds in her career, Farris was the only player in Tulane history to achieve all-conference accolades for four years.
Farris was an WBCA/Kodak honorable mention All-American in her junior year after leading the Wave to a 27-5 record, the Conference USA regular season and tournament titles, and a third consecutive trip to the NCAA tournament.. She was named to the All-Conference USA all-tournament team for that effort, and she was also named first team All C-USA at the season’s end
Barbara Farris and her family at the Greater New Orleans Sports Hall of Fame Banquet. Photo by Wally Porter.
Farris still holds the school’s all-time career field goal percentage record (660 of 1035, 63.7 pct.). After starting in114 games and scoring 1,729 points, she had Tulane’s second-highest career totals of total rebounds (939), offensive rebounds (351), defensive rebounds (588), free throws made (408), and free throws attempted (684).
She was inducted into the Tulane Athletics Hall of Fame in 2004.
“Barbara has had a tremendous influence on girls basketball in the New Orleans area,” Stockton said. “Her accomplishments as a high school, college and professional player, as well as a high school coach, are unmatched. We are so proud to have been a part of Barbara’s journey and wish her a big congratulations for her induction into the New Orleans Sports Hall of Fame!”
She launched her 10-year WNBA career with the Detroit Shock. After playing her first six seasons for Detroit, Farris joined the New York Liberty for the 2006 and 2007 campaigns, followed by one year with the Phoenix Mercury before returning to Detroit in 2009.
She played in more than 280 games and helped her teams advance to the playoffs five times. Her Detroit team won the WNBA Championship under Coach Bill Lambier in 2003.
Plaisance was glued to the TV for that one, rooting for her former star. “I swear, the confetti was still falling when she called me and thanked me.” says Plaisance. “That is so typical of Barbara, thinking of somebody else even then.”
Kari Pardoe, who was working in the Pistons/Shock community relations department, put Farris’s “thinking of somebody else” into another perspective. Their paths crossed when Farris volunteered for the team’s outreach projects.
“She visited cancer patients at the hospital,” said Pardoe. “She helped a needy family for Christmas. Typical of Barbara, she didn’t just give them money, she went shopping for them and helped wrap the gifts and put them under the tree.”
The two joined a team mission to the Gulf Coast in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. “I was in shock,’ says Farrtis, “All of those families sitting in the heat waiting for help. My family was OK. A asked myself ‘Why me? Why am I so lucky?’”
Farris’s professional basketball career carried her world-wide. In addition to her playing time domestically, she spent three winter seasons in France, three in Spain, and one in South Korea as well as playing half-seasons in Greece, Turkey and the Czech Republic.
Farris returned to the Liberty for two years as an assistant coach, and she started her prep coaching career with former Tulane teammate Mary Ann Marino at Bonnabel High School for the 2009-10 season. She accepted the position as head coach at John Curtis Christian School the following year. Farris has guided two of her Lady Patriot teams to state championships, teaching some of those early lessons she learned under Dobee Plaisance.
Story submitted by Bill Curl of the Greater New Orleans Sports Awards Committee.