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By definition, sports pioneers are risk takers and without their vision there is no beginning. Visionaries move programs forward by strength of will and a focus on the the future and not the present. Where others have failed, sports pioneers are able to successfully implement new ideas and remove obstacles that others could not. Pioneers not only have to deal with the same problems that all coaches must face in n athletic department i.e. small budgets, recruiting, and/or “turf” wars within the organization , but they also have to overcome major obstacles inherent in changing or creating a new program.   

The super sports visionaries from the 50’s thru the 80’s were women. Before a woman could be acknowledged as an athlete, Athletic Director,  or coach they had to first secure equal rights- ask Donna Lopiano.

All University administrations are slow to accept change. It took UT 50 years to finally accept the scientific fact that women can tolerate physical punishment in competitive sports. 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" and harmful to a women’s ability to reproduce. During the early years of the 20th century, physical educators main goal was “aimed to ensure that the health and educational “best” interest for a women student was sacrosanct”. To do so required the elimination of the masculine aspect of sports and the elimination of record setting and personal athletic glory.

It took many decades to correct “falsisms” that were considered truisms in sports , and it was sports pioneers who accomplished this goal. Consequently, they deserve to be judged by a different set of standards then those coaches who have successful coaching careers but did not challenge the “ inherent system of falsisms” during their tenure.  Of course sports pioneers want to win in the short term but they know that in order to create a winning “culture” long term visions are more important than short term success.

Pioneer coaches must also deal with the expectation of the fans that does not always 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 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 built the Longhorn women's basketball team from scratch. Instead of UT celebrating his success  a change at the top of the UT Athletic administration cost him his job.      


Player pioneers 


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 or in the “article” section in the navigation section at the top of the screen.



Doc Henry


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. 

The following article was written in the Houston Post. Read the article and form your on opinions . Regardless of content Doc Henry is an important part of Longhorn sports History.

Doc Henry 1916 , 1917 (33).jpg


 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 " 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."

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.   Black athletes have accomplished a lot at Texas in a relatively short time. In 1964, former track and field athlete James Means Jr. integrated the athletic department that has existed since the late 1800s after his mother, activist Bertha Means, pressured UT regent Frank Erwin for his inclusion. Six years later, Julius Whittier became the first black letterman on the football team.