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Lillian Nareen White

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Lillian Nareen White (Born in 1956) was a track athlete at Georgetown High School (later merged into Scott County High School) in Kentucky. She is known as the first African American basketball player for the Kentucky Wildcats women's basketball team. She is also a retired U.S. Army veteran and community activist.[1]

Early career[edit]

Between seventh and twelfth grades, Lillian was undefeated over six regular seasons in the 800 meters run. She still holds the Scott County High School record at 2:23.5. She made the state track and field tournament and was undefeated in all running events for five straight years, competing in the 800 meters medley relay, high jump, and long jump. A hamstring injury prevented her from competing in the state tournament in her senior year.[2]

Collegiate career[edit]

Upon graduating high school in 1975, Lillian earned a scholarship to play at University of Kentucky. She played defense for the team during the season, coming off the bench to play as a guard or forward. She completed the season and stayed at Kentucky during the spring semester.[3]

In 1976, Lillian was invited to try out as an alternate for the U.S. Olympics Women's Basketball team. The team, which was coached by Billie Moore, and was co-led by the late Pat Summitt, is now credited with advancing women's basketball in the United States. The team went on to earn a silver medal.[4][5] Although Lillian didn't qualify for the team, she has said that she was honored by the opportunity to try out.[6]

Kentucky's large campus size, coupled with the pressures of the first black female player there proved to be daunting for Lillian, and she left Kentucky in the summer of 1976, transferring to Eastern Kentucky University the following winter. She was a walk-on player for the Lady Colonels in Fall 1977, where she played through 1980. She also ran on the track team there, competing in the Ohio Valley Conference.[7]

Post-collegiate career[edit]

Lillian joined the United States Army in 1980 and continued to play basketball while enlisted. In 1985, she received an honorable discharge in California before returning to Kentucky. Lillian joined the United States Army in 1980 and continued to play basketball while enlisted. In 1985, she received an honorable discharge in California before returning to Kentucky. She worked for the parks departments in Lexington and Georgetown and retired after 15 years of service. She now volunteers for Community Action Foster Grandmother. In 2018, she was awarded a Trailblazer Award by Bluegrass Black Pride, Inc.[8]

References[edit]

  1. Jones, Reinette. "2018 Black History Month Virtual Exhibit. February 1: Lillian Nareen White". UKnowledge. Retrieved 29 February 2020.
  2. "Lillian Nareen White". NKAA, Notable Kentucky African Americans Database. Retrieved 29 February 2020.
  3. Lylte, Alan. "Meet An Important, Yet Unsung Pioneer Of UK Women's Athletics". wuky.org. Retrieved 29 February 2020.
  4. "An Oral History Of The First U.S. Olympic Women's Basketball Team". The New York Times. Retrieved 2 March 2020.
  5. "U.S. Women Trace Olympic Basketball Success to 1976". The New York Times. Retrieved 29 February 2020.
  6. "Lillian Nareen White". NKAA, Notable Kentucky African Americans Database. Retrieved 29 February 2020.
  7. "Lillian Nareen White". NKAA, Notable Kentucky African Americans Database. Retrieved 29 February 2020.
  8. "Lillian Nareen White". NKAA, Notable Kentucky African Americans Database. Retrieved 29 February 2020.


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