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Margaret Wade: A Fitting Tribute

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Delta State coaching legend Margaret Wade, the first female inductee into your Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame will be honored once again Friday with the dedication of a statue in honor of her indelible legacy.

The dedication ceremony on the Delta State campus will begin at 2 p.m. on the West Plaza of Kent Wyatt Hall. Delta State President Bill LaForge will host the event that features former presidents Dr. Kent Wyatt and Dr. Aubrey Lucas, and former Ole Miss and WNBA head coach Van Chancellor, another Mississippi Sports Hall of Famer.

Wade, inducted into the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame in 1974, served as head coach of the Lady Statesmen from 1973-79, leading Delta State to three consecutive AIAW National Championships from 1974-75 through 1976-77. During that time, Wade amassed a remarkable 157-23 record and helped pave the way for future female head coaches like Pat Summitt to excel in the sport they love.

“Her first four years back in coaching have been called one of the most amazing accomplishments in sports history,” said Langston Rogers, former Delta State and Ole Miss sports information director and still another MSHOF inductee.

During those four years, Delta State went from having no team at all to Wade leading the Lady Statesmen to a 109-6 record and the three national titles.

Rogers, who was the Delta State publicist for all three of those national championships, consented to answer a few questions about Wade, who died Feb. 26, 1995, at the age of 82.

What is the first word you think of when you think of Margaret Wade? And, why?

Courage.It would have been easy for Margaret to have turned aside President Lucas’ coaching request, but the challenge before her wasn’t nearly as great as she had faced in the past. After all she had won a bout with cancer and survived a near fatal auto accident during the years away from the court.

While success at Delta State brought much joy, it was accompanied by pain for the lady we all came to love and respect. The cancer and automobile accident had taken its toll. Severe attacks of arthritis, especially to her knees, made us wonder how she kept going. At times the travel was almost unbearable. One night in the Louisiana Superdome, the next in Madison Square Garden.

Having lived across Dean Street from Coach for seven years, I had often watched from my window the many times when it would take almost five minutes for her to get out of her car and into her home. The urge was always there to scurry over and help, but it didn’t seem appropriate, because deep down I knew this giant of a woman would find the strength to carry on. For most of us the return to coaching wouldn’t have been worth it, but for Margaret Wade it was just another chapter in her already successful life.

What does Wade mean to you personally?

Having lived across Dean Street from her, I appreciated the way she cared for our children, Laura and Bill. They called her “Aunt Margaret” and they were simply thrilled when they were with her. She loved all the kids in our neighborhood and they loved her back. Following her retirement, we became much closer. I always enjoyed the times she would ask me to come over to watch with her when women’s basketball games were on TV. She especially loved watching Tennessee and often told me that Pat Head Summitt would one day hold the collegiate record for coaching wins. She was right.

To the state of Mississippi?

She was an iconic figure in Mississippi long before her national championship success as a coach at Delta State. The fact that she was the first woman inducted into the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame is a testament to just how highly respected she was throughout the state.

To the sport of women’s basketball?

Being called the ‘Mother of Modern Women’s Collegiate Basketball’ pretty much sums it up when discussing her importance to the growth of the sport. When Title IX came along, many people trying to increase interest in the sport looked no further than Margaret Wade. She was the perfect example needed to help overcome some of the challenges if women’s basketball was to be seriously accepted. Her story of being denied the opportunity to compete in the 1930s was well known. Title IX would help give young women an avenue to participate in sports that had been blocked to Margaret Wade those many years ago.

Talk about her character.

There was never a question when it came to Coach Wade’s character. She represented so many outstanding qualities of good character. Things like courage, compassion, loyalty, trust, dedication, kindness, patience, respect, teamwork, and wisdom come to mind when I think of Coach Wade.

What was it like working with her?

It was great working with her, but she could be very demanding. It was all about fairness when it came to media coverage. She wanted the local, state and national media to give the Lady Statesmen just as much attention as the Statesmen. It was evident how important that was to her, because she believed the media could help grow the sport. She cultivated friendships and gained support from Mississippi journalists like Lee Baker, Orley Hood, Mitch Ariff, Michael Rubenstein and Sue Dabbs.

Talk about the dynasty she created at Delta State for women’s basketball.

Margaret Wade and the Lady Statesmen came along at just the right time. Women’s basketball on the collegiate level was in its infant stages. The NCAA hadn’t taken over at that point and the AIAW was the national organization providing all schools — no matter size, division or resources – a national championship in basketball. Immaculata had already won three straight championships leading up to that 1974-75 season, but there was little media attention on a national scale. Live television was not a serious option at that point and few schools packed the house with paying customers. Delta State fans responded to the popularity of the team by filling Walter Sillers Coliseum every time the Lady Statesmen played. It reached a point at home games where the men’s team would play first. Much of that support for the Lady Statesmen came from Cleveland fans who wanted to support Coach Wade. She had coached many of those fans when they attended Cleveland High School. Winning also helped.

Having never coached five-on-five before accepting President Aubrey Lucas’ request to come out of retirement, Coach Wade would be the first to tell you that she depended on her graduate assistant coaches — Brenda Parker, Mickey Miller, Phil Adair and Jimmy Butler – to help achieve the level of success the Lady Statesmen enjoyed. That combination, along with the recruiting of Melvin Hemphill, provided the foundation which led to those three AIAW national titles. Mr. Hemphill saw to it that Delta State got its share of Mississippi’s high school All-State players. Cornelia, Debbie, Lucy, Ramona and Wanda soon became household names to those who followed women’s basketball. The ESPN of today would have loved covering those five.

Another key factor to the dynasty came when Stan Sandroni set up a radio network to broadcast the games live, both at home and on the road. We can’t overlook the role that Stan played in that success and also the role Coach Horace McCool’s leadership provided when he scheduled games in places like New York’s Madison Square Garden, the Louisiana Superdome, Hawaii, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Philadelphia and Miami. The Delta State administration provided financial support as did Alyce and Rich Richardson. It was truly a team effort by so many people.

Legendary Lady Statesmen coach Margaret Wade.

Margaret Wade: The Coach, The Teacher, The Legend

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 After a 41-year drought due to the disbandment, Delta State welcomed the sport back for the 1973-74 season and handed it over to a familiar face. With the reinstatement, Title IX and Wade would help give young women an avenue to participate in sports that had been obstructed for Margaret many years before.
 
Six national championship banners are hoisted in Walter Sillers Coliseum. The first trio was earned in three consecutive seasons (1975-77) in the Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women under the direction of Wade. In her first four seasons, Wade assembled an astounding 109-6 record for a .947 winnings percentage.
 
The combination of Wade and the success of her teams, Delta State fans responded to the popularity of the program by filling the Coliseum every time the Lady Statesmen played, mostly with fans Wade coached at Cleveland High School. With women’s basketball just being reinstated at DSU and the sport as a whole in its infant stages, live television was not an option. A key factor to the dynasty established was Stan Sandroni’s creation of a radio network to broadcast the games live, both on the road and at home.
 
Van Chancellor, former University of Mississippi head women’s basketball coach, first came in contact with Wade in his first year at Ole Miss. “I was simply in awe of her. She had already won three national championships and her teams represented the gold standard in our sport.” Chancellor reflected on the atmosphere of the packed house at Walter Sillers when his team took the floor against the Lady Statesmen in January 1979. “You saw the championship banners hanging from the rafters and that’s what you were shooting for with your teams.”
 
A compilation of qualities defines Wade, but those that were directly impacted by her came to a consensus that she was always calm and very even keel. Chancellor added, “I loved the way she carried herself with such grace and poise. She was so well respected and people just wanted to be in her presence. She was a tremendous lady, and it was important that her players reflect the qualities of being young ladies while also excelling on the court.” 
 
Long-time neighbor and coworker Langston Rogers expressed fond memories of watching collegiate women’s basketball with Coach Wade, a frequent occurrence. Rogers recalls one moment when he and Wade were watching Pat Summitt’s Lady Vols play. Wade predicted that Summitt would hold the collegiate record for coaching wins. She was right. Summitt went on to become the winningest coach in basketball history and was influenced by Wade. “Anyone that knew Margaret was touched by her life. She had a passion for teaching and a desire to win that was hard to quench.” The two women’s basketball greats share similarities in the successes of their respective programs but also in recognition. The Naismith Outstanding Contributor to Women’s Basketball Award is given each year to a deserving candidate. Wade was the first ever recipient in 1999, with Summitt receiving the accolade over a decade later in 2013.
 
Rogers went on to say what the Mother of Modern Women’s Collegiate Basketball meant to the sport and the state of Mississippi. “When Title IX came along, many people who tried to increase interest in the sport looked no further than Margaret Wade. She was the perfect example needed to help overcome some of the challenges if women’s basketball was to be seriously accepted.” Courage, compassion, loyalty, trust, dedication, kindness, patience, respect, teamwork and wisdom were just a few of many qualities describing Wade’s character.
 
The rich tradition that was left behind by Wade after she retired following the 1978-79 season was meant to be continued by the next coach in line. Four years passed before another legendary coach took the reigns in Lloyd Clark.
 
Inheriting the program after its first ever losing season, Clark took over and won three NCAA National Championships in his tenure. “Looking at the banners that hang in Sillers, you can see the legacy that she started. She hung those banners when women’s basketball was just getting started and she created a lot of interest in it. I think everything that we do there today is directly through her,” Clark expressed. “I wish she was still around to see the legacy live on.”
 
Few people make an impact like Wade did in her coaching career. The Women’s Basketball Coaches Association established the Margaret Wade Trophy in 1978 that is given annually to the NCAA’s Player of the Year. This honor is revered as the most prestigious award in women’s college basketball and regarded as the “Heisman of Women’s Basketball.” Recent recipients include Brittney Griner, Candace Parker, and Diana Taurasi, who have all had successful WNBA careers.
 
In the words of Lloyd Clark, the best way to describe the impact she had on the game is the Wade Trophy. “That tells you exactly what she meant to the sport. When you have the best player in the country receive an award that is named after her, that says it all.” Chancellor shared a similar opinion. “It is only fitting that the women’s college player of the year award is named for Coach Wade. She always represented what is right about college athletics, and she had a major influence in promoting the growth of women’s basketball.” Everyone knew about Margaret Wade and the Lady Statesmen, whether it be from coaching the sport or following it as a fan. “Their success helped pave the way for so many young women to participate in athletics at the highest level,” Chancellor added.
 
In basketball and life, limits are meant to be exceeded, goals are meant to be reached, and lives are meant to be impacted. But a legend, a legacy remains constant.
 
The dedication of the Margaret Wade Statue will be held at Delta State on Friday, Nov. 14 at 2:00 p.m. The ceremony will take place on the West Plaza of Kent Wyatt Hall.

Delta State University will honor legendary Lady Statesmen basketball coach Margaret Wade with a statue dedication Nov. 14 at 2 p.m.

Wade statue dedication planned for Nov. 14

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Margaret Wade’s impact on women’s collegiate athletics and the game of basketball is immeasurable. On Nov. 14 at 2 p.m., Delta State University and the Department of Athletics will dedicate a statue in honor of Wade’s indelible legacy.
 
“No single individual has had a larger impact on women’s athletics, especially in Mississippi, than coach Margaret Wade,” said Ronnie Mayers, director of athletics. “Her legacy lives on today through the countless young women who have the opportunity to participate and enjoy competitive sports.”
 
The dedication ceremony will take place at the West Plaza of Kent Wyatt Hall. Delta State President William N. LaForge will host the event, which features former presidents Dr. Kent Wyatt and Dr. Aubrey Lucas, and former Ole Miss and WNBA head coach Van Chancellor. A reception will follow the ceremony in the Leroy Morganti Atrium of Kent Wyatt Hall.
 
Wade served as head coach of the Lady Statesmen from 1973-79, leading Delta State to three consecutive AIAW National Championships from 1974-75 through 1976-77. During that time, Wade amassed a remarkable 157-23 record and helped pave the way for future female head coaches like Pat Summitt to excel in the sport they love.
 
“Her first four years back in coaching have been called one of the most amazing accomplishments in sports history,” said Langston Rogers, former Delta State and Ole Miss sports information director.
 
During those four years, Delta State went from having no team at all to Wade leading the Lady Statesmen to a 109-6 record and the three titles.
 
Wade received numerous awards during her career, including AIAW National Coach of the Year; Kellogg’s Mississippi Coach of the Year; and following her retirement, the title of “Mother of Modern Collegiate Basketball” was bestowed her by the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association. 

In addition to being the most recognizable name in women’s college basketball in Mississippi, the WBCA named its player of the year award after the Mississippi Delta legend. The “Lily Margaret Wade Trophy” is annually awarded to the nation’s top women’s basketball player in the NCAA. In 1978, Wade awarded the first-ever trophy to Montclair State guard Carol Blazejowski. 
 
In 1986, the Naismith National Basketball Hall of Fame made Wade the first female inductee and first female head coach to be enshrined into the hall. She is also a member of the Delta State University Sports Hall of Fame, Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame and Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame.
 
A year-by-year breakdown of Wade’s career and her accomplishments at Delta State is listed below:
 
MARGARET WADE’S DELTA STATE YEAR-BY-YEAR RECORD:
1973-74: 16-2
1974-75: 28-0 / AIAW National Champions 
1975-76: 33-1 / AIAW National Champions 
1976-77: 32-3 / AIAW National Champions 
1977-78: 27-5
1978-79: 21-12
Totals: 157-23 (.872)

CAREER ACCOLADES:
1975 – AIAW National Champions
1975 – Inducted into MS Sports Hall of Fame
1976 – AIAW National Champions
1977 – AIAW National Champions
1977 – Kellogg’s National Coach of the Year
1978 – Wade Trophy established by WBCA
1986 – Inducted into Naismith National Basketball Hall of Fame

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Tailgate hosted at Saturday’s away game

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The Delta State University Alumni Association is traveling to Livingston, Ala. to tailgate before the football game between Delta State and the University of West Alabama. The tent will be set up for alumni and friends prior to the game in Wallace Hall parking lot, across from the visitor’s gate. Visit the tent at 4 p.m. or anytime prior to the 6 p.m. kickoff at Tigers Stadium.

“If you’ll be at the Delta State game this Saturday in Livingston, make sure to look for the Alumni Association’s tent,” said Jeffrey Farris, director of Alumni Affairs. “Anyone is welcome to join us.”

For live stats, audio and video of the game, visit www.gostatesmen.com.

For more information, contact the Alumni Association at 662-846-4660. To stay up to date on the Alumni Association’s activities, follow these social media sites: Facebook (Statesmen Graduates), Twitter (@DSU_Alumni), Tumblr (http://www.dsualumni.tumblr.com), LinkedIn (DSU alumni), Instagram (dsualumni) and You Tube (dsualumni1). Save the date for Homecoming 2014 (November 15) and Pig Pickin’ 2015 (September 19).

Junk Yard Hogs took home the Grand Champion prize at the 29th annual Pig Pickin' weekend at Delta State University.

Alumni Association hosts record-breaking Pig Pickin’

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The Delta State University Alumni Association held the 29th annual Pig Pickin’ last weekend at Statesmen Park. With a record-breaking number of participants, the event was another big success.

Over 1,100 people came through the barbecue serving lines and enjoyed a plate of pulled pork, corn, baked beans, slaw, a moon pie and RC drink. The BBQ was prepared by the Left Field Crew, a group of volunteers including Tom Janoush, Jay Burchfield, Jamie van Vulpen, Eddie Vaughn, David Griffith, Milan Killebrew, Mike Ainsworth, Edward Kossman, Craig Verhage and many others.

The Alumni Association started a new tradition this year with the Legacy Tent. One of the perks of joining the recently established Legacy Program was receiving a free BBQ ticket for those who requested one. The tent gave members a place to enjoy the BBQ, park atmosphere and meet with other Delta State legacies.

The event would not have been possible without the help of all the volunteers and event sponsors, including Polk’s Meat, which has sponsored the event for the past nine years. Sponsors were treated to a gumbo dinner at the Polk’s Sponsors’ Social Friday before Pig Pickin’.

This year’s sponsors include: Air Evac Lifeteam, Bolivar Medical Center, Patrick Davis State Farm, Polk’s Meat, WalMart, Aramark, Delta Regional Foundation, H.L. and Judy Dilworth, Pafford EMS, Delta Radio, Delta State University Foundation, Majic 107.5, Barnes & Noble, Baxter Healthcare, Boyle Lumber, Cleveland Trophy, Delta Risk Solutions, Faurecia Automotive Seating, Lampards Wholesale Meats, Needle Specialty Products, Nehi Bottling Company, Regions, Roy Collins Construction, Vowell’s Market Place, Advanced Mosquito Control, Automark of Cleveland, Belcan Services Group, Belflex Staffing Network, Bolivar Urology Clinic, Cecil’s Package Store, Eley Barkley, Guaranty Bank & Trust Company, Image Specialist, Renasant Bank, Sonci Drive-In of Cleveland, Abraham’s, Backdraft, Bolivar Commercial, Civil Solutions Services, Cleveland State Bank, Coopwood Communications, Delta OB/GYN, Denton Dairy Products, Flatlanders Screen Printing, Locals, Meador & Crump, Merle LaMastus, Mosquito Burrito, Patterson Chiropractic, Planters Bank, Robinson Electric Company, Rogers Entomological Services, Servpro of Cleveland, Shorlone Green, Simply Southern Grill and Cafe, The Sweetery Bake Shop, Tallahatchie County Correctional Facility and Byrd Service Station.

A group of 26 cook teams competed in this year’s Cook Team Competition. This year’s winners were:

*Best Sauce
1st place: Sweets BBQ Kitchen
2nd place: Fat Side Up #1
3rd place: Swine Before Pearls

*Best Beans
1st place: Barn Rub BBQ #3
2nd place: Rolling Bones
3rd place: Big Dog Smokers

*Best Sausage
1st place: Big Dog Smokers
2nd place: Smokehouse Posse
3rd place: Some Pig

*Best Chicken
1st place: Barn Rub Smokers
2nd place: Deliverance Smokers
3rd place: Junk Yard Hogs

*Best Ribs
1st place: Junk Yard Hogs
2nd place: Big Daddy Woo Woo’s BBQ
3rd place: Vowell’s Smokers

*Best Pork
1st place: Smokehouse Posse
2nd place: Bottoms Up Smokers
3rd place: Fine Swine

Junk Yard Hogs took home the Grand Champion prize with the highest cumulative score for the championship categories.

While the BBQ is the forefront of Pig Pickin’, there were many other events taking place Saturday, including DSU Day, hosted by the Office of Admissions. Over 250 prospective students and parents participated in affair. The DSU Band also hosted a day for prospective band students. Over 40 students participated and they performed with the Delta State band at halftime.

The Delta Down and Dirty Youth Obstacle and Challenge Run celebrated its second year with over 600 children participating. Delta State Athletics also hosted the 23rd annual DSU Triathlon and had over 40 athletes participate.

Live entertainment was provided at Statesmen Park Friday night by local Cleveland trio Southern Halo and Saturday by Delta RoX, Ol Skool Revue, a DJ and a live radio broadcast by Jim Gregory.

The various events led up to the showdown between Delta State and Central State University, which resulted in a 72-8 win for the Statesmen.

For more information, contact the Alumni Association at 662-846-4660.

To stay up to date on the Alumni Association’s activities, follow these social media sites: Facebook (Statesmen Graduates), Twitter (@DSU_Alumni), Tumblr (http://www.dsualumni.tumblr.com), LinkedIn (DSU alumni), Instagram (dsualumni) and You Tube (dsualumni1).