Genia Beasley never intended to be a standard-bearer. She never contemplated being a legend. But both were bestowed upon her when she finished her basketball career at NC State in 1980.
Beasley, a 6-2 forward/center from Benson, N.C., established standards and records by which Wolfpack Women will be measured for many, many years to come. Twenty-seven years have passed and Beasley’s name is still at the top of points scored and rebounds grabbed in the NC State record book.
Beasley was the first NC State women’s basketball player to score 2,000 or more points, finishing with 2,367. Only one other player in Wolfpack history has scored more points — Rodney Monroe with 2,551. She produced career averages of 18.5 points and 9.7 rebounds in 128 games. Her jersey No. 50 hangs retired in the rafters of Reynolds Coliseum.
Beasley was Coach Kay Yow’s (NCSHoF 1999) first prime-time recruiting catch from the state of North Carolina. The NC State program was just beginning its third year of existence when Beasley arrived.
During Beasley’s record-setting career (1977-80), the Wolpack women went 105-23 overall, 59-0 against in-state competition, and 46-4 in Reynolds Coliseum. NC State won the first-ever ACC Regular Season championship in 1978 and captured the school’s first-ever ACC Tournament title in 1980. During the Beasley era, State finished 10th, 3rd, 11th, and 10th, respectively in the season-ending Associated Press polls.
Here awards are too many to list here. She was a Kodak All-American in 1978 and was a North Carolina AIAW honoree as well as a NC-AIAW all-Tournament selection four straight years. Beasley earned all-ACC Tournament accolades in the three tourneys in which she participated and was MVP of the 1980 event. Beasley was twice a Region II Kodak All-American, and in 1978 she was selected the North Carolina AAU Female Amateur Athlete of the Year.
Not only did Beasley distinguish herself at NC State, she was also a force on United States international teams. In 1979, she was a member of the U.S. National Team that captured the gold medal at the World University Games in Mexico City. Beasley played on other gold medal winning U.S. Select teams that competed in the Junior Pan American and Senior Pan American Games.
“Genia Beasley is the closest thing to a legend in Atlantic Coast Conference women’s basketball,” said Lenox Rawlings of the Winston-Salem Journal in February of 1979.
Basketball analyst Billy Packer (NCSHoF 1996) once said, ‘Any guy in the ACC would love to have the shooting form of Genia Beasley.’
Beasley’s impact on women’s basketball at NC State was immense. She was a humble star that played with passion, efficiency and productivity. Her dominating presence in the early days of women’s basketball at State helped build a solid foundation, which still exists today.
Beasley secured a BS degree in zoology from NCSU in December of 1981. In the months preceding, she won a World League Championship, playing with the Nebraska Wranglers of the Women’s Pro Basketball League (WBL), the first pro women’s basketball league.
Coaching was Beasley’s next step. She was an assistant coach at Tennessee-Martin during the 1982-83 season, and then moved to the University of South Florida, where she spent five years (1983-88) as an assistant.
In 1988, Beasley’s pursuits went a totally new direction. From ‘88 through 1994, she went back to school, earning her doctorate from Nova Southeastern’s College of Optometry in Ft. Lauderdale.
Following graduation, Beasley spent a year in a Philadelphia eye clinic, specializing in pediatric vision therapy. She returned to Nova Southeastern as an assistant professor, teaching in the pediatric clinic as well as working in private practice.
On January 1, 1999, Beasley came back home to North Carolina, accepting a job in pediatric vision at a Charlotte eye clinic, where she remains today.
Where did Beasley learn to play the game of basketball? It may have been while she ran up and down the court in the barn-turned-gym Meadow Junior High School, or possibly under the leadership of Coach Tom Jackson at South Johnston High School, where, during her sophomore year, she led her team to a state championship. No matter where she learned (maybe it’s inborn), Genia Beasley will always be known as a pioneer of women’s basketball at her home courts in Benson, at NC State, and in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
by Carter Cheves
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