Sunday, July 01, 2007

Oklahoma's Best Women Athletes

The Oklahoman today has a list of "The 100 Best Athletes in Oklahoma History." Ten are women. One is a horse: Easy Jet.

Here are The Oklahoman's picks and their rank plus The Oklahoman's explanation (in quotes) for the women athletes they included:

#5 Shannon Miller - "(Edmond) The most decorated American gymnast ever, with two world all-around championships and an Olympic all-around silver medal that would have been gold if not for dubious judging."

#20 Nancy Lopez - "(University of Tulsa) LPGA's Sam Sneed. Big winner, but never won U.S. Open"

#26 Susie Maxwell Berning - "(Oklahoma City, OCU) Three-time U.S. Open golf winner; four of her 11 LPGA Tour wins were in majors."

#33 Crystal Robinson - "(Atoka, Southeastern State) ABL rookie of the year in 1996, then jumped to the WNBA in 1999 and the New York Liberty."

#37 Doll Harris - "(Cement) Led Durant's Presbyterian College to 1932 AAU women's basketball title."

#61 Michele Smith - "(OSU) Two-time Olympic softball gold medalist is a celebrity in Japan, where she played 14 seasons in the Japanese Pro League. Screaming fans clamor for her autograph; maybe it's the hair. Time Magazine voted Smith "best hair" of the Atlanta Olympics." [I am not making this up; that is what the boys who wrote this elected to focus on!]

#66 Stacey Dales "(OU) Past WNBA all-star, returned to league in 2006 but still a college broadcaster."

#84 Courtney Paris "(OU) Let's assume she'll keep moving up the list."

#86 Kelly Garrison "(Altus, OU) 1988 Olympian placed 16th in gymnastics all-around."

#95 Cindy Yan Fang "(OCU) During her prime, greatest softball second baseman in the world." (NOTE: I'm having trouble finding information on Cindy but, according to an old Oklahoman article, in 1998 she was 29 years old, born in Beijing, 5-8, 136 pounds. She batted .414 with 64 runs in 69 games in 1997 and batted .448 with 76 runs in 63 games in 1998. According to OCU's Rich Tortorelli, "She helped China win the silver medal in the 1996 Olympics. She holds the OCU career record for average (.463). She was All-Tournament at the NAIA Championships in 1997 and 1998, NAIA first-team all-American in 1997, 1998 and 1999 and NAIA player of the year in 1998 and 1999.")

In the The Oklahoman's March 2007 educational supplement "Generations of Oklahoma Women Moving History Forward" (funded by the Oklahoma Women's Network and Girl Scouts Red Lands and Sooner Councils and written predominantly by OSU professors Bob Darcy and Jennifer Paustenbuagh), we also listed Val Skinner and Kelli Litsch.

Val Skinner was an OSU golfer who in 1980 and 1982 was the Big Eight Conference Women's Golf Champion, in 1982 was Big Eight Conference Outstanding Female Athlete, and in 1982 was NCAA All-American. Skinner has earned over $2.4 million as a professional golfer and has raised more than $2.5 million for breast cancer research. She works as analyst for Golf Channel and CBS.

Here is what Bob Darcy said about Kelli Litsch: "From Fay, Oklahoma, Kelli Litsch is considered one of the best to have ever played the game of basketball. She led Thomas high School to two straight six-on-six state high school championships in 1980 and 1981. Turning down scholarships to play at Division I schools, she went to Southwestern Oklahoma State university wherre she powered the lady Bulldogs to three NIAA national championships going 129-5 and becoming the first female athlete to be named a first-team All-American four years in a row."

What women would YOU have included in the top 100 Oklahoma Athletes List? Tell Berry Tramel at He will run comments in The Oklahoman.

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