Former WNBA star speaks at Talladega College
by Shane Dunaway
A former Comet landed in the Tornado Alley Gymnasium during Talladega College’s Leadership All-Sports Banquet Thursday.

Yolanda Moore, one of the founding members of the WNBA and a two-time WNBA champion with the Houston Comets, served as guest speaker for the event recognizing the achievements of the college’s student leaders and athletes.

The rural Mississippi native grew up in an impoverished single-parent home, but her determination carved a path to success.

The self-professed “overcomer,” named by USA Today in 1992 as one of the top 15 high school female basketball players in the country, won three state high school championships and earned the title of Gatorade Player of the Year.

Those high school accolades earned her a full athletic scholarship to attend the University of Mississippi.

Moore’s time at Ole Miss took her down a road filled with academic, emotional and spiritual hurdles. When she became pregnant during her freshman year, her mother stepped in to help her face the challenge of parenthood in exchange of a promise for Moore to complete her education.

Moore exceeded the mark for pursuing education and currently holds two bachelor degrees, one master’s degree and one educational specialist degree while working to complete a doctorate at her alma mater.

During her speech, Moore drew a verbal road map for success for the more than 200 students, faculty and community members in attendance, placing ‘having a vision’ as the journey’s starting line.

“You have to have a vision for your life,” Moore said. “By having a vision, it gives you a clear picture of what you want your life to be. For you seniors, the second phase of your life starts and you have to know where it is that you’re headed in this world.”

Moore’s second step placed emphasis on purpose and fulfillment.

“Go into a career where you’ll be able to inspire other people and find fulfillment,” she said. “You donÕt want to wake up every day going to a job you hate.”

She urged the crowd to continue setting goals in life.

“You can’t afford to just be out there with no plan letting life happen to you,” Moore said. “If you just let life happen to you, you have to take whatever it gives you.”

Moore credited having a positive attitude for helping her achieve success in life and stressed the importance of perseverance when her mother passed away in November 1997 three months after Moore won her first WNBA championship.

“That was really tough for me because it was my mom and she had helped me with my kids,” she said. “I wanted to fall apart because that’s the natural thing to do, but I had to keep it together.”

Talladega College President Dr. Billy C. Hawkins presented Moore with a print of the college’s famed murals and Talladega Mayor Larry Barton gave her the key to the city.

Moore donated free copies of her book released in September, “You Will Win if You Don't Quit,” to be given to any student athlete who would like a copy.

“No matter how tough life gets, don’t give up on your hopes and dreams,” Moore said. “Reassess where you are and look at how you can get to where you want to be.

“Don’t let someone else define who you are,” she added. “If you don’t have a vision for your life, you don’t understand that you have a purpose, you don’t set goals for yourself and you don’t have the right attitude, that’s exactly what will happen to you—other people will define you.”

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© 2013