November 28th, 2012

Hyland's Heroes: Nana Starks

Kay Whelan

Staff Writer

Hyland's Heroes: Nana Starks
Nana Starks--back row, third from right--with several student athletes she coached over the years / photo from Nana Starks

Starks gets involved, stays involved with coaching in CSAA

The following feature is a part of a weekly series, sponsored by Hyland, Block & Hyland, called "Hyland's Heroes" - a set of profiles that spotlight Louisville area Catholic volunteers, coaches and administrators who assist athletic programs and teams, and help promote excellence in all aspects of sports. Know someone that you think should be featured as the next "Hyland's Hero”? Send your recommendation to

For many years the girls basketball program at St. Paul School has been led by Nana Starks. And the program has had a lot of success with her leadership as well. Nana actually grew up attending St. Paul and later attended Holy Cross High School and graduated from Male High. Nana was a basketball and softball player.

Now married to John Starks for 18 years, they are parents to Summer, a sophomore at Holy Cross, and 7th grader, Taylor, who attends St. Paul.  Basketball, volleyball and softball are the seasonal sport choices in the Starks family.

When and how did you get your start with the CSAA? Why so?   

I started coaching 5th and 6th girls’ basketball in 1996 at OLOL because my sister’s (Katie) team needed a coach.

Who asked you to contribute or what got you involved? 

When I registered my oldest daughter for Kindergarten at St. Paul they did not have a basketball program for the young children (K-2). I suggested to the Sports Committee that we start an Intramural Basketball program. I learned quickly to be careful what you ask for. It was voted in and I was voted to run it. My sister (Tina) has been in charge of it for the last several years and has helped me with it throughout the years. This will be our 11th season!

What sports did you coach and for how long?

I’ve coached basketball for about 13 years. This is my 9th season at St. Paul 7/8 No.1 girls team.

What's the connection with your faith and giving your time to these young student athletes?

God has blessed me in so many ways, giving my time coaching is a pleasure and an honor. I want the girls to know I am always here for them in good and bad times. We try to teach them to always be thankful for their family and to God. Hopefully we are teaching them life lessons.

Who was the most influential person on your coaching career? Why?

The most influential person for me in coaching is my Dad, Tom Curley. He always took me to games, coached me in basketball, and pushed me hard in anything I did. 

What are your major themes/principles as a coach?  

To have fun, play with passion, show sportsmanship, work hard, never give up and play as a TEAM. I am passionate when I coach and hopefully that rubs off on my players. My players are treated as students first. Sports are not top priority. God, family, and school are the priorities. 

What does coaching bring to you, your family?

Coaching is my passion and my therapy. I love every minute I am on the floor. Sometimes it makes life crazy with all of us going in different directions, but I have a very supportive husband, who puts up with my basketball craziness. My daughters have always been with me and have been blessed to have wonderful role models in my past players. My Mom even comes to every game. Basketball is definitely a part of my family.

What are the fondest experiences or memories you have of coaching?

It is not about the wins, it is about the players. I have been very fortunate to get to be part of some amazing young ladies lives. I try to follow all of my players in their high school and college careers. I try to teach them that working hard pays off and to always believe in themselves. Never give up and believe that anything is possible. The best memories are seeing them succeed in life.


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