Players and coaches honored

Updated: June 16, 2005, 10:08 AM ET
Associated Press

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- Lynette Woodard was an All-American at Kansas, won an Olympic gold medal and fulfilled her dream to be a Harlem Globetrotter during her more than 20 years as a basketball player.

Now retired from basketball and living in her hometown of Wichita, Kan., Woodard is among the six new inductees at the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame.

She is joined by retired Auburn coach Joe Ciampi, NAIA star Kelli Litsch, high school coach Edna Tarbutton, AAU All-American Dixie Woodall and Hunter Low, founder of the Kodak All-American team. The inductees, families and friends gathered at the hall for a weekend of activities. Their names were announced in November.

Woodard was a Kodak All-American from 1978-81 at Kansas, where she scored 3,649 points in her career. She was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass., last year.

Woodard's cousin, Geese Ausbie, was a Globetrotter, and she was the first woman on the traveling team that entertains crowds with humor and unconventional styles of play. She played for them from 1985-87 and finished her career in the WNBA with the Cleveland Rockers in 1997 and the Detroit Shock in 1998.

"Every player has a dream team so to speak, someone they want to play for or play like, and the Globetrotters was always the team I chose. Then it was dream come true. I said from a baby that I was going to play for this team," Woodard said.

Woodard, a financial consultant for A.G. Edwards & Sons Inc., was the interim coach at her alma mater last spring after head coach Marian Washington retired. Washington was inducted in to the hall last year, and Woodard accompanied her. Woodard wouldn't say whether she would like to coach again.

"I'm still going to be involved in camps here and there, but at this point I'm just going to take one day at a time," she said.

Ciampi, who retired a year ago and still lives in Auburn, Ala., has been staying busy as a TV commentator, consultant and part-time baby sitter for his three grandsons all under age 2.

He worked with 12 college teams and two WNBA teams last year, spilling all the secrets to the match-up zone defense he employed at Auburn. Two of those teams, Tennessee and Michigan State, played each other in this year's Final Four.

"It's all the successful coaches who have called me, all of the coaches who have been to the top. They want to know more," he said.

Ciampi had a 568-203 record at Auburn over 25 years. He also coached two seasons at the U.S. Military Academy. Auburn was national runner-up three straight seasons from 1988-1990 and won four Southeastern Conference regular-season titles and four SEC tournament championships under Ciampi.

Ciampi said if he ever got back into coaching it could be in the pro league.

"I might like to look at the WNBA and do some of the Xs and Os," he said.

Three other inductees are also retired from the basketball world -- Low, Tarbutton and Woodall.

Woodall now runs her own safety consulting company in Tulsa. After her playing days as a star with the Raytown Piperettes and Nashville Business College in the 1960s, she coached 14 years at Seminole Junior College and Oral Roberts in Oklahoma. She also coached several U.S. teams.

Woodall says she's grateful for all the women who were pioneers in different fields, not just basketball.

"Look at the aviators and scientists. We're so glad because we could still be doing dishes and things like that," she said.

Tarbutton, who lives in a nursing home in West Monroe, La., coached from 1943-76 at Baskin (La.) High School and amassed a record of 654-263 and two ties.

From 1948-53, the school won 218 straight games, the longest winning streak in any organized high school, college or pro sport in the U.S. Baskin outscored its opponents 11,709-5,300 during the streak. The team had another stretch of 71 wins after the longer streak ended.

Baskin won nine state championships, eight of them in a row.

Low, who lives in Rochester, N.Y., is known as the "father of the All-America team," for his role in creating Kodak's honorary team in 1975 as manager of U.S. sports programs for the Eastman Kodak Co. The venture started as a way to sell film and projectors to students and coaches, but even today it is one of the most prestigious awards for college players.

"I think we wanted when we started for it to be as big as all the other All-American teams. I'm so happy it turned out that way," Low said.

Litsch was a four-time All-American at Southwestern Oklahoma State University from 1982-85 and led her team to three NAIA national championships. The team was 129-5 while she was a player.

She was the NAIA player of the year in 1983, 1984 and 1985. Litsch is now the assistant athletic director for compliance at her alma mater.

"When I was playing I certainly had no idea something like this might be in my future," she said. "It's like a dream come true."

The hall, which opened in Knoxville in 1999, recognizes players, coaches, referees and contributors to women's basketball.

Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press