Her “can do” approach to sports and life served Starks well during her challenging early days as head coach of Tennessee State University’s (TSU) first-ever golf team. TSU is an Historically Black College/University (HBCU) and offered Starks few, if any, African-American golf students to recruit. “I originally started my team with two injured football players, a woman and a few others,” recalls Starks. Tasked with training and inspiring an underdog team of multi-cultural young golfers to win games, and eventually championships, was a challenge for which Starks was uniquely suited. “Growing up in Mobile, Alabama, I was a sickly child who had asthma,” recalls Starks, “but my grandmother and mother encouraged me. The doctor said ‘I couldn’t,’ and they said ‘Yes you can!’” And she did. Starks swam, became a lifeguard and later taught collegiate swimming. She played baseball and golf. She even played the saxophone, an instrument heavily dependent on breathing. She became such a stand out that when her high school bandleader made cuts, Starks became the only female musician in the band. Overcoming obstacles became her way of life. “Nothing bothered me,” says Starks. “If I wanted to do something, I just went on and did it.”

Starks’ profoundly simple “yes you can” approach to life, is what she imparted to her student athletes. “You can’t be afraid to try things that are difficult and different. You have to try what interests you and be happy you attempted it – even if it doesn’t work out.”