All American Red Heads 1936-1986

Coach Orwell Moore - 1917 - 2009

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Coach Orwell Moore with his brother, Jack

    

Coach Orwell Moore –  Eulogy

 

born November 25, 1917

died May 19, 2009

 

Good afternoon everyone

we gather this day as family, friends and neighbors to pay final
respects and to celebrate the glorious life of Orwell Moore.

Many of you may not know me.  My name is John Molina and I am a
historian of women’s basketball.

I am very blessed to have had Coach Moore as a very dear friend and
mentor in my life.  He was a great many things to all of us.

To speak of Orwell, I need to break out different facets of his life.

While he enjoyed many sports, basketball became his calling.

Coach Moore was originally an English Teacher who also coached the girl’s
basketball team back in the 1940s.  In 4 years while teaching, he
coached these teams to 120 wins and only 4 loses.

Yet it was during a game he played in when his men’s team took on a
barnstorming women’s basketball team called the All American Red Heads.

Just prior to the tip off, the center of the Red Heads came over to
Orwell, bent down and planted a red lipstick kiss on his forehead.

It was destiny.

A few years later, the owner of the Red Heads would approach Orwell
about becoming the Coach of the Red Heads.  His only condition was to
have his beautiful wife, Lorene, play for the Red Heads.

For 7 Seasons Orwell traversed across the country with Butch before the
Moores bought the All American Red Heads and moved them to Caraway.

For the next 3 decades, Orwell ran the All American Red Heads, some
seasons having as many as 3 teams on the road at the same time, all
playing over 200 games each.

Yet, while statistics may make the front page of the sports section, if
that is all one looks at, they do not get to know who Coach Moore was.

Ask any player and I think they will all tell you he expected the best
of them, both on and off the court at all times, and could be a stickler
on how he wanted things done.

And yet to become an All American Red Head was like waking up every day
and having it be Christmas morning.

He provided opportunities for women to play professional basketball when
so few opportunities existed for women to play basketball after high
school.

He taught the players the 4 D's

- Desire
- Discipline
- Determination
- Dedication

These qualities these women learned in their days as a Red Head would go
on to become a part of their lives and who they are to this day.

Coach had a great love for his player as women as well.  He got to know
them, their parents and so on.  Decades later, I say Coach must have had
a photographic mind, as anytime a name was mentioned, he could tell you
where the player was from, what their parents did for work and what kind
of people they were.

He even went on to live one of his own dreams, by creating
Camp
Courage.  A place for the Red Heads to coach some of the younger girls
that had the dreams of one day playing professional basketball with the
Red Heads, and some of them did.

Alas, with changes in society and the evolution of the game, the All
American Red Heads would take the court for their final season in
1985-86, being coached by Orwell's son, Burnie.

Although the games are no longer, Coach Moore never stopped promoting
the Red Heads.

Coach Moore and the All American Red Heads are legends.  I have spoken
with many professional and Olympic players.  Virtually all of them know
of the All American Red Heads.

Rebecca Lobo would send autographed pictures to the players at a
reunion.  Billie Jean King herself wrote a letter to the players and she
called the All American Red Heads "Her Heroes".

The women’s basketball hall of fame has a display on the Red Heads.  A
Red Heads uniform in on exhibit at the Basketball Hall of Fame in
Springfield Massachusetts. 

Interest is growing in Orwell and the All American Red Heads and it has
become his legacy.

One thing I haven't done is to mention any players specifically other
than Butch.

I know this is how Coach would have wanted it.  He always said the Red
Heads were about a "team" and not the individual.

As a historian, I have been asked many times who is the greatest women’s
basketball player.  I don't like to answer that one.  What I do tell
people is that the women who played basketball for Orwell Moore and the
All American Red Heads were some of the greatest women to ever take the
court.

The All American Red Heads would play 32 minutes a game before the time
keeper would blow the final whistle.

This week, the ultimate time keeper, our Lord, called a timeout and
invited Coach Moore to take a place beside him.

Yet as much as his life was the Red Heads, he was so much more.

His love for Caraway and community was unlike most people I've ever
known.

After talking on the phone about the Red Heads, Coach would always start
talking about the townspeople.  How much he loved them and how helpful
and supportive they were.

When I visited Caraway for the first time, he drove me around town,
giving me a personal tour, stopping by the bank and stores to introduce
me to the people that were important to him in his life.

Thanks to all of you for being a part of his life and looking out for
him.  He always had the highest praise for you.

Now I come to what was most dear to him in his life.

Although the Red Heads took up much of his time, at the core of his
heart for his love for his family and faith in the Lord.

There wasn't a single conversation I ever had with him in which he
didn't speak of family and its importance.

He cherished the time he had with both the Moore and Adams families.  
They completed the happiness in his life.  Loving the laughter,
fellowship, and even competitive leisure games like cards and dominoes.

His love for his children, and grandchildren.  I could feel his heart lighten in his
voice whenever he spoke of them.

Of his never ending love for his beloved Butch.  The many happy memories
of her, often to be replaced by a quiet moment of his reflection on
her.

May we all be as blessed to have a love in our life the way Orwell loved
Butch.

He would even talk with me on Linda-Kay.  The daughter of Orwell and
Butch who passed away at a very young age.


And like almost every conversation I had with Orwell, he would be of his
strong faith in God.

And just as we were saying goodbye, Orwell would say

"Well John, that's all I Know".

"May God Bless you John and your family".

And if Orwell was here with us right now, I think he would say"

"May God bless all of you and your families".

  

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