Catana Starks, the True Story Behind From the Rough

Coach Catana Starks and actress Taraji P. Henson attend the screening of From the Rough at ArcLight Cinemas April 23, 2014, in Hollywood, Calif.
Jason Kempin/Getty Images

There's a new movie opening this weekend that many people may not be familiar with. I know in my area I've only seen a handful of commercials, and my local theater isn't showing it. From the Rough tells the story of Catana Starks, who became the first African-American woman to coach a men's NCAA Division I golf team when she was hired by her alma mater Tennessee State University, a historically black college in Nashville.

Although Starks was honored to coach the team, she had a few obstacles ahead of her.


"My first golf team consisted of two injured football players, two other guys and one girl who was permitted to play with us. I started out with that and they were all African Americans. It continued on, and then I started getting other interested players from other ethnic groups. Eventually it evolved into having some international students," Starks told ESPN.

Starks led the TSU golf to the Minority Golf Championship in 2005, which was her final year of coaching.


Many great golfers were created under Starks' leadership. She coached Canadian Sean Foley, who is currently Tigers Woods' swing coach; Sam Puryear, the first African-American men's head golf coach in any major conference; and Robert Dinwiddie, who was an All-American at TSU and is now a member of the European Tour.

From the Rough stars Oscar nominee Taraji P. Henson as Starks. Also in the cast: Tom Felton, LeToya Luckett and the late Michael Clarke Duncan.


From the looks of Henson's Twitter account, she's a one-woman show when it comes to promoting her work:

And so far it seems as though the movie has received two thumbs up from those people who are lucky enough to have it play in their area:

Although Starks has put away the golf clubs, she's still at TSU as the head of its human-performance and sports-sciences department. By all accounts, Starks is a true trailblazer. 


Yesha Callahan is editor of The Grapevine and a staff writer at The Root. Follow her on Twitter.

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