Carolyn Bush-Roddy has reached Finalist status for Induction into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame, Class of 2019. This honor is well deserved as you will see when you read her story.
My name is Carolyn Bush Roddy, and I was raised in Kingston, Tennessee, by a great woman, my grandmother, the late Alice Martin. My grandmother was very instrumental in my life and she taught me many things that I will always cherish and never forget. Her strong will, and at times tough love, gave me confidence to know that through hard work and determination, I could successfully accomplish and complete anything that I set my mind and heart to do and without fear of failure as long as I tried my best.
In 1977, I married a very special man, my husband, Steve Roddy. We have been married for over 40 wonderful/eventful years and now reside in Kingston, Tennessee. We first met on a basketball trip to Bryan College when I played basketball at Hiwassee College. We have two beautiful and handsome sons, Courtney and Brent.
Regarding basketball, where do I begin? I have so many fond and loving memories of my entire basketball career that it is so hard to really know where to start.
I played basketball at Roane County High School (Kingston) from 1966 to 1971 under the guidance of the late Coach Freddie Paul Wilson. In 1966, I was 6’2” and 145 pounds soaking wet and Coach Wilson decided that I would be a guard. Women, at that time, were only allowed to play half court rules (3 guards & 3 forwards) or rover rules (2 designated rovers who could go over the half court line each time the ball changed possession). The one and only assignment I had, as a guard, was to rebound the basketball and get it to my teammate, Susan Breeding, who would bring the ball up the court and get it to the forwards. I was really spastic, and I could not walk and chew gum at the same time! However, Coach Wilson saw something in me and kept working to help me get better.
While in high school, I was selected to several All-Tournament Teams. I was All-District, All-Regional, and Sub-State all four years. I was selected MVP of 12 different tournaments my senior year, and I was selected to play in the East & West All-Star Game held at Stokley Center on the University of Tennessee at Knoxville campus. That same year (1971), I was chosen to appear before the Tennessee Federal Court to testify on behalf of women in Tennessee for Title IX and women’s right to play full court basketball.
I was recruited during my senior year by Coach Damon Mitchell, women’s basketball coach at Hiwassee College (the oldest 2-year institution in Tennessee) and by a coach from St. Mary’s School of Nursing in Knoxville. I chose Hiwassee in Madisonville because its basketball program was the dominant program in the area.
When I went to Hiwassee College to register, my grandmother went along. I never will forget that day! After I had completed my registration, my grandmother, in her own unique way asked the registrar, “Where is the President’s Office?” An administrative staff member guided us to his office and President Barker was very polite and kind and took the time to speak with her. Grandmother proceeded to strongly convey to Dr. Barker that “This one belongs to me and if you have any problems with her, you have my permission to correct the problem directly and then I will add my own correction methods myself.”
While at Hiwassee I receive a number of honors. In both my freshman and sophomore years, I received the “Tigerette Award”; the “Best Defensive Player Award”; the “Best Offensive Player Award”; and the National Junior College All-Tournament Team Award. I was MVP of National Junior College Tournament my sophomore year and was All-Tournament for most all of the tournaments in which we played.
In both 1972 and 1973, the national junior college tournament was held in Enid, Oklahoma. Both years, Coach Harley Redin, head coach at Wayland Baptist College in Plainview, Texas, came to recruit. After the tournament my senior year, Coach Redin contacted Coach Mitchell to invite me to come for a weekend campus visit. I decided to go and I was truly impressed with Wayland. When I arrived at the Wayland Campus, I was introduced to Coach Dean Weese who had just been named the head coach at Wayland for the upcoming year (1973-74).
While at Wayland Baptist, I achieved more honors. I was both a Kodak All-American and a Street & Smith All-American in 1975. I appeared in Sports Illustrated magazine’s “Faces In The Crowd.” I competed in two AIAW National Tournaments and two AAU National Tournaments. I was an AAU All-American and Rookie of the Year in 1974. In 1975, I was an AAU All-American tournament MVP. In both 1974 and 1975, I was a NWIT All-American and tournament MVP and the same was true for the Gold Coast Classic— MVP and All-Tournament. I was privileged to be on USA teams that toured Russia (5 cities), China and Taiwan (4 cities), Japan and Korea (4 cities). I was on the USA team that won the gold medal in the 1975 Pan American Games. I was voted by the Texas Pan-Handle Sports Hall of Fame as “Player of the Year” and “Athlete of the Year” in 1975. Also, in 1975 I was a National Amateur Association of Universities Women’s Basketball Team member, and in 1976, I was an Olympic Team Finalist. In my two years at Wayland, I scored 1090 points, which currently places me at number 37 on the all-time scoring list.
The trip to Russia was particularly memorable because I single-handedly stopped traffic in Moscow due to my hair style. Lusia Harris (teammate) had braided my hair and I don’t think a lot of Russians had seen a black woman with braided hair. People were slowing down and stopping to look at me. The KGB had to come and escort me back to where we were staying. Nobody was mean or anything, but I was scared. Needless to say, I unbraided my hair as quickly as possible.
During my basketball career, I had the distinct pleasure of playing with and against Pat Head Summitt, Lusia Harris, Nancy Lieberman & Annie Myers Drysdale, just to name a few. I was invited to play International basketball in France for 2 years, but I declined to do so. I was tired of all the traveling and living out of a suitcase plus I missed my grandmother.
In 1975, after playing and graduating from Wayland Baptist, I came back home to Kingston because I wanted to give back some of what was given to me growing up. So, I decided to hold a number of basketball camps in the summer of ‘75 and ‘76, for ages 5 to 15. During this time, and after establishing sound contacts with the Atlanta Hawks, I was able to direct and coordinate 2 professional basketball camps featuring professional Dominique Wilkins and hosted the Traveling Globetrotters. In addition to directing my own camps, I was a member of the coaching staff at Coach Summitt’s Basketball Camps at Tennessee for 15 years and at Coach Jim Davis’s Camps at Clemson for 7 years. In working with young players, I try to teach them that they have no limits. I tell them, “The only limits you have are the ones you set on yourself and that you have to be positive no matter what.”
After we married in 1977, Steve and I moved to Cincinnati for a year and then returned to Tennessee. In 1979, I got a call from Dean Weese, my former Wayland coach, asking if I would be interested in playing for the Dallas Diamonds. Coach Weese had been recruited to coach the Diamonds in the newly formed Women’s Professional Basketball League. Accepting his offer would require a move to Dallas. I asked my husband and all he said was “when do we leave.” He’s always supported me in everything that I do. While playing professional basketball in Dallas, I was afforded several opportunities for personal appearances, photo shoots, commercials, and TV Sponsorships. I played for the Dallas Diamonds for three years.
I retired from playing in 1982. We returned to Tennessee where we lived in Dayton and started our family. In 1987 we moved back to Kingston and I began working in three different government plants in Oak Ridge, Tennessee.
In 1996, I began work at Roane State Community College as an Assistant Coach of their women’s basketball program. One year late I became the Head Coach at Hiwassee College.
In 2000, I became Head Coach at Knoxville College and was there for three years. From 2002 through 2006, I served on the Board of Directors for the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in Knoxville, Tennessee.
In 2003, I became part of the workforce at the Michael Dunn Center, in Kingston, as a Personal Care Assistant in one of their homes. This wonderful agency provides services for the mentally challenged individuals and this job is and has been so rewarding and humbling. I was promoted to a Case Manager Position in 2006 and more recently promoted to Assistant Director of the Family Based Program. I am now an agency wide Quality Assurance Case Manager with a caseload of 34 individuals who I service daily. I also am an attendant for a special-needs student in the Roane County ISD. I have worked with the same student for 5 years.
From the beginning of my early childhood throughout my basketball career up until the present time, one thing has remained a constant in my life and that is my love for the Lord Jesus Christ. He is and has been my rock, my anchor, my refuge and my leaning post. He has been my everything and I thank Him for having mercy on me and introducing me to salvation.
I pray and hope that this is not too much information and it has been enjoyable to read. I leave you with my favorite Bible Verse: “I can do all things through Christ, who gives me the strength.” (Philippians 4:13)
Carolyn Bush Roddy
Wayland Grad 1975
Flying Queen Forever!