Wednesday, November 02, 2005

The Best Rebel Fan Ever

Below is an article about Mrs. Eleanor Shaw. Mrs. Shaw is the most dedicated Ole Miss fan I have ever met. You say stuff like that alot, but without a doubt she is. As a kid growing up and coming to basketball games, I always sat next to Mrs. Shaw in Seciton O row 3 seat 6 and 7. Without a doubt she was at everygame and always brought the cookies they are talking about in the article. I think she has had that same Ole Miss tin in the above picture for 50 years cause they are always in that tin also. She has seen all Ole Miss sports in the good and bad and has always supported them throughout the years. I am not sure what my Ole Miss basketball experience would be like without Mrs. Shaw. When basketball season starts in a couple of weeks, look for her in Section O she will be there with cookies in hand.

Embracing the fierce competition, she diligently watched the day, night and even holiday battles.
Absorbing the roaring of the crowds, she repeatedly anticipated the blow of the officials’ whistles. Through the years, she has demonstrated an unstoppable will to display school spirit. Ole Miss graduate Eleanor Shaw has been a loyal supporter of Ole Miss Athletics for more than 40 years.
Undeniably, 87-year-old Eleanor Shaw is no stranger to Ole Miss Athletics. She has faithfully attended Ole Miss athletic events since 1966, and she admits to not having a desire to slow down any time soon.
“Every year is good,” Shaw said. “It seems to get more exciting due to the coaches.’’
Shaw began a five-week hospital stay on Aug. 22. While in the hospital, she persuaded her doctor to allow her to attend an Ole Miss tennis tournament.
Her doctor agreed to let her leave the hospital for a few hours each day to attend the matches.
“She is possibly Ole Miss’ most loyal fan,” said men’s tennis head coach Billy Chadwick. She’s an inspiration to all of us.”
Shaw, who graduated in 1939, said she is a huge fan of several Ole Miss athletic programs such as tennis, baseball, softball, volleyball, track and field and men’s and women’s basketball.
“She really loves Ole Miss Athletics,” said Whitt Taber, assistant women’s tennis coach. “She tries to make it to every event she can.”
To many fans, coaches, and student-athletes, Eleanor Shaw is affectionately known as “Ms. Shaw.”
“She always brings cookies to every match and practices,” Taber said. “She is definitely a big part of our program.”
While she was recently attending a tennis tournament in Tunica, Shaw said a Vanderbilt University student-athlete addressed her as the “cookie lady.”
“The cookies are unbelievable,” Chadwick said. “They have produced many champions.”
Junior men’s tennis player Eric Claesson appreciates Shaw’s support for the men’s tennis program.
“She is great. I love everything about her,” Claesson said. “There’s only one problem: we eat too much of her cookies (during tournaments).”
Shaw, a member of the Mississippi Tennis Hall of Fame, began sharing her cookies during the late 1970s. She wanted to practice with then tennis coach Russell Blair.
Blair asked for some of her cookies in return. She has baked her famous mixture of oatmeal, coconut, raisin and chocolate chip ever since.
Senior men’s tennis player Juan Di Cesare acknowledged that Shaw’s cookies were not her only contribution to the men’s tennis program.
“Her presence reminds us of the history of the program. She has been here from the beginning. She is a symbol of how long people have been building to make this program into one of the top ten in the nation,” Di Cesare said.
A few years ago, Shaw completed a tennis career that extended over 70 years. She began playing tennis in 1931 at the age of 13. She won the Mississippi state high school singles tennis championship in 1935.
In 1937, Shaw teamed with the late Slew Hester, former president of the US Tennis Association, to win the mixed doubles division in a Mississippi tennis championship.
In 1984, 47 years later, she teamed with Hester’s son, Bill Hester, to win the same tournament.
She also won the Blue Grey Tournament singles division in 1949 in Montgomery, Ala.
At age 29, Shaw was ranked No.7 in the South. She was ranked No. 6 nationally in the 60s division in 1978.
She has also won several singles and double titles.
Shaw was named the female player of the year by the Mississippi Tennis Association in 1986 and 1992. In 1997 she teamed with Mildred Southern to win the Trustmark Southern Seniors Tournament at River Hill.
Head women’s basketball coach Carol Ross said no one knows more about the women’s basketball program than Shaw.
Ross said that during her two years as head coach of the Ole Miss Lady Rebels, Shaw has sat in the same seat that she sat in during Ross’s freshmen year as a student-athlete for the Lady Rebels.
“She is not just a booster or fan,” Ross said. “She is one of us. She has complete access to reunions, practices, camps, our arena and offices. She has complete access to our program.”
A native of North Carolina, Shaw competed in several women league sports while attending Belhaven College, Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, Ole Miss and graduate school at the University of North Carolina.
While she was a student at the University of North Carolina, Shaw was a captain on the women’s basketball team.
During her career as a player and a spectator, Shaw has witnessed major progress toward the advancement of women athletics.
She recalled when women athletics were not apart of the NCAA, when they competed in intramural leagues and when women had to make their own uniforms and schedules.
“There was nothing organized, no coaches,” Shaw said.
She said she is pleased with the NCAA, which began administering women sports in 1980, for giving organization to women athletics.
Asked which sport she enjoys watching the most, Shaw said, “A sport is a sport all by itself.”