Teresa (Allmon) Tanner was playing Amateur Athletic Union basketball long before it was cool. Yet time playing travel ball did far more than keep her in shape. She eventually parlayed her gym time into a full-ride scholarship to University of Montevallo, which Tanner used to earn a degree. In which also opened doors for her to pursue her career of coaching at the University of Mobile and South Alabama.
Tanner birth, nurtured, trained and was mother/coach to her two daughters to lay the foundation and the discipline, as she’s now the mother of two Auburn WBB scholarship players — Tyrese is a rising senior and Nicole is a rising sophomore. She gives back to the game by coaching with the Alabama Twisters AAU Program.”Basketball gave me a purpose and direction that continues to make me a better person,” said Tanner, now 46. “I’ve met so many people, so many great people, and they’ve had such an incredible impact on me. To think back to 7th grade – all I wanted to be was a cheerleader. I’m glad that didn’t work out.”
Title IX had expanded well beyond simple legislation when Tanner was playing high-school ball in eastern Tennessee. “I was the only one on my high-school team that even played AAU,” Tanner said. “It wasn’t all talent, but the desire and drive as well. I had several teammates that could have and did play in college. The high-school season was enough for some people.”
Tanner, who stands six feet tall, blossomed into a dominating forward on the court. Yet she didn’t appreciate the significance of academic excellence in high school and didn’t have the grades to qualify at most major-conference schools. She instead found a home in junior college, worked more diligently in the classroom and earned an offer from Montevallo after two seasons. Tanner’s winding road from AAU to college graduate remains an important theme.
“I didn’t have that knowledge of how the system worked – how important your grades were,” Tanner said. “I’m always reminding my players and their parents now about the need to be a good student as well as a good athlete. The biggest thing for players now is that they have real role models in the WNBA and coaches who have shown it can be done. You have to be well-rounded.”
Tanner’s life never strays far from Title IX’s significance. She has coached players who earned scholarships. She has coached against players who have earned scholarships. The world of year-round basketball, once limited to just a handful of girls, now supports more than 50 AAU teams in Alabama alone. Opportunities are expanding every year. Tanner knows why.
“What we’re seeing now would not have happened without Title IX,” she said. “It changed my life for the better and I see it touching girls’ lives all the time for the better. I’m not sure (athletic funding is) 100-percent equal like it should be, but I look back at the way it was in the mid 80s and we’ve come a long way. The opportunities these players have now basically didn’t exist for their parents. That’s progress.”