Rodney Page is honored at  the Celebration of Champions on March 29, 2018.

Rodney Page is honored at  the Celebration of Champions on March 29, 2018.


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RODNEY PAGE - First Longhorn Black Head Coach 

Rodney Page.jpg

Coach Page- Right Choice Wrong Time



Rodney Page was offered the head coaching job for the Longhorn women's basketball team in 1973 by Betty Thompson who is a Longhorn pioneer in her own right. To read about Betty Thompson's influence on UT sports visit and click on "Support" then "Athletic Directors" . 

Rodney remembers the moment and reason he accepted Betty Thompson's offer. He said "I would have rejected the job if I felt like I was hired as the "token" African American, but Betty Thompson convinced me by her words, heart, and spirit, I was offered the job because of ability and competence". The hiring of Rodney Page was the right decision and is now a part of Betty Thompson's great legacy and Longhorn sports history.

  1973 A Year of Many First

Coach Page deserves tremendous accolades for his accomplishments. He took a team no one wanted , moved the team to better facilities , helped convert the team from club to varsity status, and improved the teams competitive performance from losing to tournament play in three years. Along the way he and his team experienced many first .

  • First Longhorn women's collegiate team to use Gregory Gym
  • First time the UT band and cheerleaders performed at a collegiate women's sporting event
  • First time trainers were totally committed to Longhorn women athletes
  • First extensive use of press releases to promote women's sports
  • First time that a official game program gave equal billing to the women and men athletes
  • First time that a Longhorn men and Longhorn women were promoted together. (The women played prior to the men's game.)

While the UT Athletic P.R. department should be applauded for consistent and credible message that help legitimize all Longhorn women sports to a fan base that was initially skeptical, winning was the key elixir. Winning in women's volleyball, basketball, softball, swimming, and track increased fan interest and fan attendance. Other Universities noted Texas successful formula and the Longhorns became the de facto benchmark for Women's sports. Rodney Page's teams were a benchmark.


Coach Page combined hard work, creativity, and coaching acumen to succeed at the college level.

Like many other coaches of women sports in the 70's, he had to improvise to survive. A small budget required his teams to play in used volleyball uniforms and compromise on amenities during road games. Cars- not planes- were used for travel and one time they had to stay with a family member. Rodney Page wore many hats. He was travel agent, coach, mentor, and ground crew for the basketball team. Even with all the obstacles, his teams excelled. 


As a coach he believed that a winning tradition is started by players who master the fundamentals of the sport and who possess certain intangibles that all great teams exhibit. Asked by a reporter what constitutes intangibles he said  "character and pride...................It's the things that keeps people performing when they're tired.... Intangibles can be as important as money in building a program." 



Death of a Dream

Coaches who qualify for tournament play are usually celebrated for their accomplishment- but not Coach Page . Unfortunately, A change at the top of the UT Athletic administration cost him his job. He was the right hire at the wrong time in Longhorn sports history.   In 1975 the Longhorns hired Donna Lopiano as the first women's AD at UT. She was the right person for the job and her success as AD is indisputable. Unfortunately for Coach Page the new AD wanted a coaching staff that reflected her vision for the Longhorns.  For reasons only she knows, Rodney Page did not fit those visions.                

Two of his great players protested his release. Retha Swindell and Cathy Self, said Coach Page was a "driven but fair man who cared about his players." Their support of him was honorable and sincere but futile. Decisions for the future had been made and UT does not have a reverse gear.




A "Calling" leads to a New Dream

Just like the teams he coached, Rodney Page had good fundamentals and intangibles that all winners possess, and he used these qualities to build a new and better dream. A dream filled with faith, friends, family and career.   He says " in a sense the whole experience nudged me forward.....It also launched me into my true place and calling".

From the authors perspective I admire Rodney Page for building a new dream. Life can be very unfair and many individuals whose dreams are unjustifiably turned into nightmares harbor anger and bitterness for a life time.   

Finally Recognized

For his contributions to Longhorn women's basketball, Coach Page was recognized by the University of Texas on February 2016.  For over 40 years he had little contact  with UT Athletics  and then one day he gets a phone call from the AD's office stating that UT wants to honor him. Rodney accepted the invitation and commented "regarding forgiveness and overcoming a mindset- I had to say yes" to the invitation.

Rodney Page is unquestionably a pioneer in the history of UT sports. His life story is exemplary of all that is good about the spirit of mankind. He dared to dream and lost. He dared to dream again and won. He now uses his experiences to inspire young impressionable minds to dare to dream.  Les Brown had Rodney Page in mind when he said "help others achieve their dreams, and you will achieve yours." For Rodney Page it is mission accomplished.

Thankful and honored to be in the Class of 2017 "Good Legends" recognized at the recent  Austin Closing Ceremony at City Hall.  All Legends are true Champions for the Greater Good, selfless individuals, serving Austin, Central  TX., and the World.  “Well Done, Faithful Servants.” A special thank you to Recognize Good for the great work and “beacon of light” your outstanding organization shares into a world and society that has seemingly lost its way.  #lighthouse #gratitude.  Rodney is second from the right.




 Billy Dale - Proud member of the 1967 football recruiting class