If she’d only waited at least a week longer, Tamara Moore would have played at the University of Tennessee. “Going into my senior year, it wasn’t supposed to be Wisconsin, [but] it was meant to be,” Moore reflected on her Badgers career. The North Minneapolis native was among 10 new inductees September 29 into the school’s Athletics Hall of Fame in Madison.
Moore’s athletic star first rose as a budding Northside teen, then rose even higher while playing AAU summer ball. She more than held her own at a couple of summer camps at Tennessee, which caught the eye of the late legendary coach Pat Summitt.
“I knew in my mind where I wanted to go. [Tennessee] was my number-one school,” Moore recalls. But as confident as she was on court, Moore admits she wasn’t as much so in taking her SAT/ACT college exams. “I had a good high school GPA, but I struggled with the SAT/ACT,” she continues. “I took it four times.”
Summitt offered her a pact but told Moore she would do so only if she were eligible to play as a freshman. Still unsure if her fourth test attempt would be successful or not, Moore opted for her second choice, Wisconsin.
“I made the choice because I wasn’t confident I would pass… Seven days later I passed my test. If I had waited seven days, I would have been at Tennessee.”
Moore points out without regret, “I wanted to be part of something at Wisconsin. I wanted to be a part of a change of culture and build something.”
That she did — two WNIT appearances, including the 1999 WNIT championship, and two NCAA berths. Moore (1998-2002) was a two-time All American and two-time all-Big Ten, a finalist for two national awards, 2001 Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year, and the school’s all-time career leader in assists and steals.
“I had the same mentality that I had as an eighth grader (playing varsity) at North — they are not going to stop me,” Moore says confidently. Initially she didn’t mind being a reserve off the bench, but her coach did. “She came to me and said, ‘Tamara, I didn’t recruit you to come off the bench. I brought you in as a starter. I recruited you to be our leader, but you can’t do that from the bench.’ That conversation from that moment on made me realize that no matter what I felt my abilities were, [her coach] was always going to want me as a leader.”
Among her highlights was seeing her name on ESPN after the WNIT title game. “They spelled my name all wrong, but I didn’t give a care. I was on SportsCenter,” she beams.
Moore later played for seven WNBA clubs and four foreign clubs after Miami selected her 15th overall in the 2002 Draft. She remains the only Northsider to ever play for the Minnesota Lynx, where she was traded midway through her rookie year.
“The kids are so in shock when they hear [that] I played for the Lynx. Moore is a recognizable name,” she notes, referring to current Lynx Maya Moore, no relation.
She retired as a player in 2009 and now owns the Twin Cities Elite, a semi-pro team. “It has been exciting that I’m the owner and head coach.”
Her legacy added another résumé note with her Badgers Hall of Fame induction, adding her name to the school’s all-time greats. “I’m so proud of what I’ve done as a basketball player, [but] I want people to see me not just as a basketball player, but also something that is very multi-faceted in [the] different things that I do.”
Charles Hallman welcomes reader responses to firstname.lastname@example.org.