Women’s History Month 2021
The Allstate Sugar Bowl Sports Awards Committee Highlights the Careers of New Orleans Legends
NEW ORLEANS (March 26, 2021) – Following up on its successful Black History Month features in February, the Allstate Sugar Bowl Sports Awards Committee will commemorate Women’s History Month in March by highlighting the accomplishments of eight female sports legends from New Orleans. The eight women, all members of the Allstate Sugar Bowl’s Greater New Orleans Sports Hall of Fame, cover nearly 100 years of women’s sports history in New Orleans. They represent basketball, golf, softball, swimming, tennis and track and field and include athletes who traveled the world while also excelling right here in the Crescent City.
The Sugar Bowl will share these memorable stories via its social media channels throughout the month of March with posts each Wednesday and Friday at noon.
March 26 – Pamela Jiles
Pamela Jiles, a star New Orleans sprinter from Abramson High School and the New Orleans Super Dames club team, earned a silver medal for the United States in the 4×400-meter relay at the 1976 Olympics in Montreal. She also won two gold medals and a silver at the 1975 Pan American Games in Mexico City.
In the 1975 Pan Am Games, Jiles nearly collected three gold medals. She won the 100-meter dash with a time of 11.38 seconds and anchored the USA 4×100-meter relay team to a Pan Am Games record time of 42.90 seconds for another gold. In the 200-meter dash, Jiles and teammate Chandra Cheeseborough had a photo finish. The gold was awarded to Cheeseborough and Jiles settled for silver with a time of 22.81 seconds – her personal-record.
Ranked No. 4 in the world in the 200 and No. 6 in the 100 in 1975, Jiles posted fourth-place finishers in both the 100-meter and 200-meter dashes at the 1976 U.S. Olympic Trials in Eugene, Ore, to earn a spot on the 1976 USA Olympic Team. Her 11.31 time in the 100 at the Trials was her personal-record.
During the 1976 Olympic finals, Jiles was a surprise pick to run a leg for the mile-relay team as she did not specialize in the 400 meters. Her choice was justified however, when she ran a 51.3 leg in the final to help the USA to a time of 3:22.81 and the silver medal.
The 1976 Olympic results are quite controversial in retrospect as that was the height of the Eastern-bloc countries documented usage of performance-enhancing drugs. The Gold Medal 4×400 relay team in Montreal was from East Germany, which was found to have been one of the leaders in the doping culture. The USA’s silver medal in the mile relay was it’s only women’s running medal (the only other medal for the USA in women’s track and field was a silver medal in the long jump).
Jiles ran a personal-best 52.64 in the 400 in 1977.
Born in New Orleans on July 10, 1955, Jiles attended Dillard University which didn’t have a track program at the time. After her Olympic performance, she attended LSU and competed for the Tiger track team for one year.
March 24 – Ashley Tappin
Ashley Tappin-Doussan, who moved to the New Orleans area when she was 13 years old, established herself as one of the most decorated athletes in the city’s history. She won 20 Louisiana state championships and set six high school state records; she was a five-time NCAA Champion; and she competed in two separate Olympic Games for the United States, winning three gold medals.
Tappin-Doussan was added to the Greater New Orleans Sports Hall of Fame last year.
Other Tappin-Doussan achievements include being the youngest swimmer to compete in the U.S. Olympic Trials at 13 (1988); winning gold in the 1990 World Championships in Australia; capturing three gold medals in the 1991 Pan American Games in Cuba; and being a three-time Junior National Champion.
During her standout career at St. Martin’s Episcopal High School, Tappin-Doussan became one of the youngest athletes (17) to qualify for the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona, Spain, winning her first gold medal. She attended the University of Florida and added her first NCAA title. However, she wanted a better fit for her college and swimming career and opted to transfer.
“Arizona turned out to be the best fit for me. Transferring is one of the best decisions I ever made,” she said.
At Arizona, she competed at an exceptionally high level despite nagging shoulder injuries. At the 1996 NCAA Championships, she medaled and scored in two individual events and three relays, anchoring Arizona’s winning 200 free squad in 22.29.
However, the injuries were too much and after the ’96 NCAAs, she had surgery to repair a rotator cuff, preventing her from joining the ’96 Olympic team.
After a layoff, Tappin-Doussan returned to the pool, making every effort to reach her prior level, despite downplaying the arduousness of the rehabilitation and training.
“That wasn’t tough at all,” said Tappin-Doussan. “The tough part was manning up and realizing ‘I don’t want to have regret.’”
Once the young darling of the U.S. swim world — she was competing at junior nationals at the age of 11 — Tappin-Doussan was now a “seasoned” swimmer of 25 making a bid to earn a spot on the 2000 Olympic team.
In order to avoid the same training habits that led to her shoulder issues, she completely rebuilt her methodology to keep her core body aligned to minimize water resistance. “I learned to use my whole body in my swim and not just my shoulders and arms. Their work really helped change the way coaches taught swimming and helped me realize another Olympics,” she said.
In the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, Australia, Tappin-Doussan earned two more gold medals as a member of the USA’s 400 freestyle and 400 medley relay teams.
Today, Tappin-Doussan and her husband Russell Doussan passionately pursue charity work through Hartley’s Hearts Foundation. The foundation is named after one of their twins born in 2010 with a heart defect, corrected by doctors at Ochsner Hospital. The foundation raises money to fund heart surgeries for children in Paraguay and Russia. They have raised money to help sponsor more than 100 surgeries.
March 19 – Evelyn Monsted
Evelyn Monsted was a true pioneer for women in the sport of golf. She joined the Women’s Committee of the United States Golf Association (USGA) in 1959, and in her 35 years as a volunteer, helped create a larger role for women in the administration of the USGA Championships.
When she served as Women’s Committee Chair in 1968 and 1969, she upped her efforts and opened many doors in the organization.
“Evelyn Monsted is my hero,” Judy Bell, who was the first female president of the USGA in 1996-97, told the Times-Picayune in 1994. “Her presence truly has been felt in golf. She has been one of the greatest friends to golf, not just in this country. She has ties around the world.”
The USGA celebrated its Centennial year in 1995 and established the Ike Grainger Award to honor individuals who served in the organization as volunteers for 25 years or more. Monsted was one of the first recipients.
In addition to her more than 35 years as a USGA volunteer, she held the prestigious position of non-playing Captain of the 1968 U.S. Curtis Cup Team, which defeated Great Britain and Ireland in Newcastle, Northern Ireland. She served in the same role when the United States team won the Women’s World Amateur Team Championship in Buenos Aires in 1972. Following that victory, she received a signed congratulatory note from President Richard Nixon.
Monsted was not just an organizer, she was also an exceptional golfer. She won the 1967 Louisiana Women’s State Golf Association Championship, also claiming the senior title, Medalist (lowest scorer of the day) and putting contest. She also won the New Orleans Country Club women’s championship 15 times and was a quarterfinalist in the 1962 Southern Amateur.
As of 1968, she still had a seven handicap after being a five handicap for over 25 years. Her lowest score was a 72 and she made a prized hole-in-one on the 17th hole at the Metairie Country Club.
She rapidly picked up golf just after marrying Robert Monsted in 1936. Her husband was recognized as one of the best players in New Orleans and shortly after their honeymoon, he set her up with golf lessons at the New Orleans Country Club.
In 1986 Monsted co-founded and captained the inaugural Senior Women’s Invitation Match, an international competition between outstanding senior women golfers in North America and their counterparts in the UK and Europe. She also served as president of both the Louisiana Women’s State Golf Association and the Women’s Southern Golf Association. In 2007, the Women’s Southern Golf Association began presenting the Evelyn Monsted Medalist Trophy to the contestant with the lowest qualifying score in its amateur championship.
Born in Galveston, Texas, on October 10, 1915, the Walker family moved to New Orleans when she was three. She graduated from Louise S. McGehee School and attended the University of Oklahoma. She died on August 23, 2005 at the age of 89 in New Orleans.
March 17 – Marilyn Barnett
Marilyn Barnett was an outstanding tennis player and a pioneering sportswriter in New Orleans. She also worked as a disc jockey on WTIX and went onto a memorable career as a publicist for many of the New Orleans hotels.
Barnett picked up tennis as a 12-year-old and quickly became a prodigy.
“It didn’t look so hard,” Barnett told Times-Picayune reporter Marty Mulé. “Someone asked me if I wanted to try to hit a ball, so I did. ZAP! It was, somehow, almost perfect.”
Her first city championship came in doubles in 1940 when she was 16 years old. In 1944, she captured the city singles title for the first time. Then in 1959, she won both the singles and doubles crowns at the city championships.
She continued playing competitively until her last tournament in 1980 at 57 years old. She won more than 70 trophies along with 13 titles and was ranked No. 10 in women’s doubles in the South at one point in her career.
The unique aspect of her tennis career is that she was hired as a sports reporter by New Orleans Item sports editor Fred Digby, also a member of the Greater New Orleans Sports Hall of Fame. She covered many of the events in which she competed in her column entitled “Drop Shots.” She also served as a golf columnist for The Item.
It’s widely accepted that she was one of the first female sports reporters.
“I don’t know if there were other women sports writers there at that time or not,” she told Mulé. “I never, ever saw another woman reporter.”
She didn’t just cover tennis, however, even though she wasn’t allowed access to the men-only press boxes. When covering games at Tulane Stadium, she sat directly beneath the press box and she said that vantage point allowed her to better soak in all of the elements of the games.
Barnett secured interviews with the likes of New York Yankees legend Joe DiMaggio, Brooklyn Dodgers manager Leo Durocher, the jockey Eddie Arcaro and the former heavyweight boxing world champion Primo Carnera.
She also worked as a classical-music disc jockey on WTIX-AM, hosting a show called “Waxing Eloquent” and later a show named “Afternoon Symphony.”
In 1960, she went onto her career as a publicist for many different New Orleans hotels, becoming a friend to many famous celebrities in that role.
A graduate of the Isidore Newman School in New Orleans and Hood College in Frederick, Md., she passed away on January 17, 2021 at the age of 97.
March 12 – Barbara Farris
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 named Barbara Farris.
“I thought she could have the opportunity to play at the next level and maybe even the level after that,” said Plaisance. The coach was right on the money. 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.” said Farris. “I was a big fan of the Georgetown Hoyas.”
During her three years (1991-94) playing for Plaisance at St. Martin’s, Farris was a two-time all-Louisiana high school player as she led her team to back-to-back state titles as well as a perfect record when she was a junior.
For college, she chose to stay home and became one of the greatest female athletes in Tulane history. “I loved my time at Tulane,” says Farris. “I loved every minute of it.”
Farris led the Green Wave to one of their most successful eras in the school’s basketball history as head coach Lisa Stockton’s team played in four consecutive NCAA tournaments and posted an 88-32 record. Averaging 16.7 points and 6.8 rebounds in her career, Farris is the only player in Tulane history to achieve all-conference accolades for four straight years.
A WBCA/Kodak honorable mention All-American in her junior year (1996-97), Farris led 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 and she was named first team All-C-USA at the season’s end.
Farris scored 1,729 points (sixth all-time as of 2020) in her Tulane career (1994-98) while starting 114 games. She still holds the school’s all-time career field goal percentage record (660-of-1035, .637) and she ranks among the best in Green Wave history in career rebounds (939, fourth), offensive rebounds (351, third), defensive rebounds (588, fourth), free throws made (408, fourth) and free throws attempted (684, third).
Following her Green Wave career, she went into the professional ranks, playing overseas and in the ABL before launching her 10-year WNBA career with the Detroit Shock in 2000. 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 Laimbeer in 2003.
After two years as an assistant coach with the Liberty, Farris started her prep coaching career as an assistant at Bonnabel High School for the 2009-10 season. She began a 10-year run as the head coach at John Curtis Christian School the following year. During that time, she won five LHSAA state championships with the Patriots, including four straight to close her tenure (2017-20). She compiled a record of 279-54 in those 10 years.
She left John Curtis in 2020 to go into the collegiate coaching ranks as an assistant coach at Stetson University in Florida.
March 10 – Nina Korgan
Nina “Tiger” Korgan had established herself as a professional softball star before joining the powerhouse New Orleans Jax Maids in 1942 but shortly after coming to New Orleans, she was widely recognized as the greatest softball pitcher of all-time. With Korgan on board, the Jax Maids would win five softball national championships in the next eight years – a period when industrial league softball was highly competitive around the country. Top softball players were hired to work for prominent businesses while playing for their elite promotional softball teams – like Jackson Brewing in New Orleans sponsoring the Jax Maids.
Korgan, recognized as one of the top pitchers in softball history, essentially stumbled into the role. After graduating from high school, she wanted to join a local softball team, but she had the date mixed up for practice and when she arrived, the only vacant position was pitcher. And the legend was born.
From 1934-48, she played on six American Softball Association (ASA) national championship teams, including five with the Jax Maids. She pitched for the Syracuse (Nebraska) Blue Birds from 1935-37, leading them to state championships all three years and posting a 95-5 record, and Thames (Mo.) from 1938-40. Her first national championship came in 1941 with the Higgins Midgets of Tulsa, Okla., when she completely dominated the national tournament. In 30 innings of work, she struck out 67 batters and hurled four shutouts, including a perfect game with 20 strikeouts. She allowed only five hits in the four games – one of those came in a 1-0 victory over New Orleans.
When the Midgets were disbanded following their national title, she moved to New Orleans for the 1942 season. Korgan extended her scoreless inning streak in the ADA national tourney to 67 innings before giving up a run in the seventh inning of the 1942 championship game in Detroit. Korgan won four games in that tourney with three of them one-hitters.
Korgan and the Jax Maids would repeat in 1943, defeating a Phoenix entry, but a team from Portland, Ore., took the 1944 title. New Orleans returned to the top the following year to start a three-year stretch of national championships. They knocked off teams from Toronto (1945), Chicago (1946) and New York City (1947) in the title games.
She was lauded regularly in print: “Nina Korgan, the Walter Johnson of girls’ softball…” said the Associated Press. “Nina Korgan likely has no equal as a girls’ softball pitcher. She enjoys the distinction of being the world’s best…” said the Charlotte Observer. “Her record in incomparable. She has a magnetic personality and moves about with the grace of a leopard. She’s a champion and looks it…” said Scoop Kennedy. “The Bob Feller of the ladies’ league…” said The Saturday Evening Post.
She would remain with the Jax Maids until retiring from competition in 1949. She worked for the Jackson Brewing Company until retiring in 1978.
Korgan was born February 1, 1916 in Council Bluffs, Iowa, and attended Abraham Lincoln High School where she was a star athlete in every discipline she attempted. She was inducted into the ASA National Softball Hall of Fame in 1960 and the Nebraska Amateur Softball Association Hall of Fame in 1979. She died on July 19, 2009 in Sand Springs, Okla., at the age of 93.
March 5 – Anna Koll
Under the headline “New Orleans’ Greatest All-Around Girl Athlete,” Joe Abraham’s Times-Picayune story was effusive.
“This young lady,” wrote Abraham of Anna Koll in 1930, “is probably the greatest representative of the fair sex ever to be developed here in the field of athletics.”
Forget the gender qualifier, Koll may well have been the greatest all-around athlete to come out of the Crescent City. Period.
Having competed in the dark ages of the 1920s and ‘30s, long before the advent of near-universal cable television coverage, Koll had been nearly forgotten, and probably would have been but for a few newspaper clippings, medals and plaques held onto by her admiring nephew, Bill Koll.
Bill is the keeper of the Anna Koll flame, the one person who persisted in reminding the media that followed Abraham and those who saw her perform that this was someone whose feats are worth remembering.
Indeed. Anna Koll, at 5-6, 125-pounds, with wavy blonde hair and striking blue eyes, was a multi-sport, multi-state champion who collected gold medals like squirrels gather nuts.
Considered a Louisiana version of her friend and contemporary Babe Didrikson Zaharias, the do-it-all national female sports colossus of several sports and an Olympian, Koll was a more regionalized champion in large part, as explained by her nephew, because of a lack of sponsorship availability.
“Everything she went to do, she had to pay for,” he said. “That got to be pretty hard on a school-teacher and tennis coach.”
In her lifetime Koll won state titles in five different states – Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, and Massachusetts.
Competing in AAU sports with the Wiltz Girls Athletic Club, Koll competed in track & field, softball, basketball and tennis. She once held AAU records in the standing broad jump, high jump, running broad jump, 8-pound shot put, the 80-yard low hurdles, as well as championships in the 120-yard hurdles and the 50-yard dash.
She was part of the New Orleans team which won the Southern AAU championship four straight years (1926-29). Koll was part of the Wiltz team that won the AAU indoor softball title three straight years, leading the league in batting each season, and played on the Wiltz basketball team and made the All-Star team three straight years.
Impressed? So was Lawrence diBenedetto, secretary of the New Orleans AAU in 1927 when he wrote, “The New Orleans girls of the long skirt era, of novels and romance, may have been languid young ladies who walked no further than from the front steps of their homes to the carriage door. But the short-skirted, bobbed miss of the 20th Century exhibits vitality which would rival the athletic prowess of an Amazon.”
He was writing of Koll and her Wiltz teammates after they won the 1927 Southern AAU championships. That day Koll won the both the long jump and high jump. She was also the reigning city tennis champion at the time.
A graduate of Tulane with a master’s degree from LSU, she also did post-graduate work at Harvard during the summers, winning a Massachusetts state tennis title in a tournament that included both men and women.
She died in 1998 at the age of 93.
March 3 – Sandra Hodge
Sandra Hodge, a native of Clinton, Miss., is one of the greatest basketball players in UNO history as well as one of top scorers in NCAA basketball history. Playing for the UNO Buckettes as they were known at the time, Hodge averaged 26.72 points per game for her career (1980-84) while leading UNO to four straight 20-win seasons. Her career scoring average is the second-best in NCAA Division I history behind only Patricia Hoskins of Mississippi State (28.4 ppg from 1985-89) and just ahead of Delaware’s Elena Delle Donne (26.66 ppg from 2009-13).
Hodge remains atop the UNO charts (as of 2020) for career points (2,824), career scoring average, field goals made (1,179) field goal attempts (1,179) and free throws made (466), while ranking second all-time at the school in free throw percentage (.808), rebounds (105) and steals (239).
Hodge recorded three of the five and four of the top seven single-season point totals, including the UNO record of 820 points in 1982-83. She also tallied three of the seven 40-point games in UNO history, including a 44-point effort in a win over Spring Hill in February of 1981.
She was also the Sugar Bowl’s Greater New Orleans Female Amateur Athlete of the Year an unmatched three straight years (1982, 1983 and 1984).
The Buckettes had won a total of 20 games in the first five years of the program (1975-80). However, when Hodge exploded onto the collegiate scene as a freshman in the 1980-81 season, she scored 816 points for an average of 29.1 points per game – and UNO posted a 20-8 record. As a sophomore, Hodge led her team to a 21-7 record as Hodge averaged 22.4 points per game.
For her first two season, Hodge and the Buckettes played in the Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (AIAW). However, prior to her junior season, the NCAA officially began sponsoring women’s basketball and UNO began competing as a Division I Independent.
The name of the governing body had little effect on Hodge – she averaged 27.3 points per game in 1982-83. The team posted a 20-8 regular season record and was selected to play in the National Women’s Invitational Tournament (for the top eight teams that didn’t make the 32-team NCAA Tournament) in Amarillo, Texas. After edging Texas Tech, 66-65, in the opening round, the Buckettes cruised to a 100-70 win over Weber State in the semifinals and then defeated Memphis, 68-58, in the championship. Hodge, unsurprisingly, was the tournament MVP.
The 5-9 guard-forward set the school’s still-standing record for scoring average with 29.5 points per game as a senior in 1983-84 as UNO went 22-6. The teams only losses came to LSU (twice), Utah, Louisville, Kentucky and UL Lafayette (then Southwestern Louisiana) while it beat Tulane and won the Miami Masonic Classic with victories over Cal State Fullerton, St. Joseph’s (Pa.) and Wake Forest.
After graduation, she played professionally in Sweden and Spain, and in 1987, she became just the third woman to play with the Harlem Globetrotters when she joined the team on a South American tour. Over the next six years, Hodge would play over 200 games a year around the world (she visited six continents) with the Globetrotters.
“Seeing those happy faces in the places we play in is an extremely satisfying feeling for me, and the rest of the team,” Hodge told the Newport News (Va.) Daily Press in 1992. “At least for two hours or so, people can forget their problems and have some fun with us.”
Hodge, whose UNO jersey (#44) was retired on February 23, 1989, was inducted into the Privateer Hall of Fame that same year. She was also selected to the Louisiana Sports Writers Association’s LSWA All-Time Collegiate Team.
The Sports Awards Committee began in 1957 when James Collins spearheaded a group of sports journalists to form a committee to immortalize local sports history. For 13 years, the committee honored local athletes each month. In 1970, the Sugar Bowl stepped in to sponsor and revitalize the committee, leading to the creation of the Greater New Orleans Sports Hall of Fame in 1971, honoring 10 legends from the Crescent City in its first induction class. To be eligible for the Hall of Fame, nominees must have excelled in the sports field in New Orleans or been born or raised in the city.
The Allstate Sugar Bowl has established itself as one of the premier college football bowl games, having hosted 28 national champions, 99 Hall of Fame players, 51 Hall of Fame coaches and 19 Heisman Trophy winners in its 87-year history. The 2022 Allstate Sugar Bowl, which will feature top teams from the SEC and the Big 12, is scheduled to be played on January 1, 2022. In addition to football, the Sugar Bowl Committee annually invests over $1.6 million into the community through the hosting and sponsorship of sporting events, awards and clinics. Through these efforts, the organization supports and honors thousands of student-athletes each year, while injecting over $2.7 billion into the local economy in the last decade.