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All University administrations are slow to accept change. It took UT 50 years for Texas to accept the fact that women could tolerate the physical punishment in competitive sports. With the slow movement of change,pioneers deserve to be judged by a different set of standards. Success for pioneers may not be evident for 20 to 30 years making short term judgments of their accomplishments problematic.
By definition, Pioneers are risk takers and without them there is no beginning. Sports pioneers use vision, insight, resolve, and many other intangibles to excel. They are able to successfully implement new ideas, record first in sports history , and remove obstacles that others could not master.
In addition to dealing with the same problems that all administrators face in a athletic department, sports pioneers must contend with the major obstacles inherent in changing or creating a new program. Pioneers are restrained by small budgets, the ebb and flow of recruiting, and competition from other sports within the athletic department who protect their "turf" at all cost.
While there are many factors men must overcome to qualify as a pioneer in sports, women had to overcome even more. Before a woman could be acknowledged as an athlete, Athletic Director, or coach they had to first secure equal rights- ask Donna Lopiano.
Tessa Nichols states that in the early years of the 20th century women's sports were "circumscribed by gender norms and restrictive ideologies which delineated the acceptable ways in which women could perform in sports". During those years "excessive" competition for woman was considered too "masculine". To eliminate the masculine aspect of sports the physical educators of this period decried record setting and personal athletic glory. The goal of Women's sports "aimed to ensure that the health and educational best interest for their women students were sacrosanct".
Pioneer coaches must also deal with the expectation of the fans expectation that does not align with reality. Many pioneer coaches never overcome this problem. Coach Strong was a pioneer as the first black head football coach in a established program , but he was released because the expectation of the Longhorn Nation did not coincide with the realities surrounding the football program he inherited.
It is difficult to decide when to terminate a coaching pioneer. Dang Pibulvech fits the definition of a pioneer in sports. Dang started 4 women's soccer programs for 4 colleges. Texas was one of them. Starting a sport from scratch takes courage, boundless energy, and patience. Dang Pibulvech had these qualities, but he was still not able to overcome all the obstacles he faced. After 5 years at Texas, his poor results resulted in his resignation.
Then there are Longhorn pioneers who are just unlucky. Coach Rodney Page was the right hire at the wrong time in Longhorn sports history. Coach Page is the first black coach in the history of UT sports, and a visionary who turned the Longhorn women's basketball team around. Instead of UT celebrating his success a change at the top of the UT Athletic administration cost him his job.
While there are many factors men must overcome to qualify as a pioneer in sports, women had to overcome more. Women first had to struggle for equal rights before they could build a women's sports program- ask Donna Lopiano. Overcoming gender and racial barriers prejudice formed in the 1800's and accepted as truisms for the first 75 years of the 20th century were hard to vanquish.
Then there are the player pioneers who overcome gender and racial strife to open the way for future players who dream of playing and graduating from the University of Texas. Each of these athletes is covered in the comments to follow.
Each individual mentioned on the banner page is covered in the content below or on the TLSN site.
Longhorn Pioneers built bridges for Future Longhorn generations to cross. These Pioneers are discussed in chronologically order.
Doc Henry was the most important pioneer of all pioneers at UT. His legacy should be celebrated and honored for all time.
Even with a segregated south, Doc Henry managed to get a job at the UT athletic office that lasted from 1895 to 1915. He was the ultimate pioneer for blacks in the history of Texas Sports. His hard work and the respect he earned eventually led to his position on the football team as water boy , assistant to the coaches, and equipment manager, and the name he cherished-- "Doc". His tools were a medicine bag, towel, and water bucket. He did everything in his power to heal the athletes and along the way became the bench mark for future managers and trainers. In one publication he was called "the most famous character connected with the football at the University of Texas." Once a school official released him but the student body protested, and Doc kept his job. In 1915 Doc suffered a stroke and died 2 months later. The student body paid for his hospital bills.
After his death the Houston Post paid a tribute to him. The Post asked a penetrating question as to why a system celebrates a man who was not allowed to attend UT or eat with the athletes. It takes 60 more years to answer this question and resolve the injustice.
Betty Jameson 1937 pending more information
Betty is the first women to every qualify for a men's varsity high school golf team in Texas. Betty Jameson enters UT and Harvey Penick gives her golf instruction. In 1938 she wins the intramural golf championship at Texas and her career thrives.
In 1947, she won the U.S. Women's Open with a 295. It was the first time a female golfer scored lower than 300 in a 72-hole tournament. In 1950 she was one of 13 cofounders of the LPGA, and, along with Marlene Hagge, was one of the tour's first "glamour girls." The World Golf Hall of Fame calls Jameson "a tall, stylish woman" whose "long, graceful swing was much admired," and the Hall says that Jameson was one of the "Big Four" of LPGA stars, along with Patty Berg, Babe Didrikson Zaharias and Louise Suggs.In 1967, when the LPGA Tour Hall of Fame was created, Jameson was one of the six inaugural inductees. In 1951 The LPGA recognized her induction year into the Hall of Fame of Women's Golf.
She was inducted into the Women's Sports Foundation's Hall of Fame in 1999, and was listed as "...as one of the (LPGA) association’s top 50 players and teachers."
World Golf Hall of Fame quotes Lawson Little as saying that Jameson had "the soundest swing, the best pivot and the greatest follow through of the hips of any woman player except Joyce Wethered."I
In retirement she taught gold and took up painting for her own enjoyment.
James Means 1964 still pending more information
The first black athlete to letter at Texas and in the SWC. He participated in track all four years and graduated in 1967. More to follow
Leon Black 1967- see full story in Pioneer section