Carolyn Moffatt (1934–2005)
Carolyn Moffatt was a pioneering women’s basketball coach in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s. Serving as coach at what is now Ouachita Baptist University (OBU) for just under two decades, she led the Tigerettes to national prominence and left an indelible impact on the program as well as Arkansas basketball.
Phyllis Carolyn Moffatt was born on May 4, 1934, in Crossett (Ashley County) to Otho Wade Moffatt and Thelma Boyd Moffatt. She grew up in Crossett and attended what later became OBU, earning a BA in physical education in 1956. At Ouachita, she was a member of the college’s Future Teachers of America chapter and played both basketball and tennis. Following graduation, she took a job at Holly Grove High School, where she coached the basketball team. She remained there until she returned to Ouachita in 1965.
Moffatt was a member of the school’s initial team, when a group of female students came together and began play in 1955. The initial game arose from an invitation to participate in a benefit contest against a junior college in Texarkana, Texas, but once a team was assembled, they began to play local Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) teams, often against women twenty-five to thirty years old. Moffatt was one of the original players in that group. In 1965, with the team and program having been formalized to become a full part of the college’s athletic program, she returned to her alma mater. It was the start of her twenty-year run as head coach of the Tigerettes, a period in which they became a national power.
Between 1965 and 1984, she led the Tigerettes to a record of 213–162. Playing primarily AAU competition, the team won four state titles in the late 1960s and twice made it to the championship game of the national AAU tournament.
Moffatt was also a major figure on the national level. She was prominent in AAU basketball, holding an array of national AAU positions over the years. These included serving as a member of the national AAU women’s basketball executive committee (1969–1973) while also being the national chairman for AAU women’s basketball (1971–1972). During that same period, she served on the U.S. Olympic Committee for women’s basketball and was a national rules interpreter for the sport. From 1969 to 1973, she served on the coaching staff for the U.S. women’s team.
Over the course of her tenure at Ouachita, she oversaw the transition of the basketball program from the student-led effort of which she had initially been a leader to one able to reap the rewards of the enactment of Title IX. The revolutionary law removed the discriminatory barriers that had limited athletics opportunities for women and led to a wholesale change of the American athletic landscape. The Ouachita program transformed from a mix of AAU and college competition to one wholly committed to intercollegiate athletics, although that realm itself shifted over time from one initially overseen by the Association of Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (AIAW) to becoming part of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA).
Moffatt distinguished the Ouachita program by using it to broaden her student-athletes’ horizons, once playing a team from Nationalist China (that is, Taiwan). The Tigerettes regularly traveled widely within the United States, competing against various colleges and universities.
Moffatt was the first female coach inducted into the NAIA Basketball Coach’s Hall of Fame. She was also inducted posthumously in 2011 into the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame.
Moffatt died on September 30, 2005. She is buried in Lakewood Cemetery in Crossett.
For additional information:
Schulte, Troy. “Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame: Moffatt Blazed Her Own Trails.” Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, February 2, 2011. https://www.arkansasonline.com/news/2011/feb/02/arkansas-sports-hall-fame-moffatt-blazed–20110202/ (accessed May 25, 2023).
“Women’s Basketball Begins with Wins.” The Signal, February 16, 2013. https://www.obusignal.com/womens-basketball-begins-with-wins/ (accessed May 25, 2023).
William H. Pruden III
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