Natalie Brown played a major role in the first two 20-win seasons in Southeastern’s modern-day women’s basketball.
She will be inducted into the Southeastern Athletics Hall of Fame Friday, August 25, in the Visual and Performing Arts Center.
She graduated from Stringtown (Oklahoma) High School in 1976. During her senior year, Natalie led the state in scoring with an average of 34.8 points per game while leading her team to district, regional and area championships. The storied season ended in the semifinals of the state tournament.
Brown earned honorable-mention All-State honors, was named All-Conference, played in the Kiamichi All-Star Basketball Classic and was selected to the All-State-Tournament Team.
She transferred to Southeastern after two years at Eastern Oklahoma State College.
Brown’s two years for coach Vicki Hudson’s Savagettes produced a pair of state championships, two trips to the Regionals and one Regional championship.
As a junior in 1978-79, she sparked Southeastern to an Oklahoma Association of Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (OAIAW) state title with a 71-63 victory over Oklahoma Christian College in a game played in Bloomer Sullivan Gym.
That team went on to earn the consolation crown in the Regional Tournament of the Association of Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (AIAW) by winning four of five games at Texas Wesleyan College in Fort Worth, Texas.
Brown helped the Savagettes to a second-consecutive OAIAW state championship at Northwestern State College in Alva in 1979-80.
Hudson’s club hosted the Region 4 tournament with teams from Oklahoma, Texas, Louisiana and Arkansas. The Savagettes reached the finals and fell one game short of advancing to the National Tournament at the University of Dayton (Ohio.)
Coach Hudson said, “We already had a good tradition started, but when Natalie walked through the door, the outlook to build on that tradition became even brighter.
“As a post player, Natalie had great hands and she was playing with an excellent ball handler and passer in Kathy Cotton (the first female athlete inducted into the Southeastern Hall of Fame in February 1998.)
“Natalie and Kathy teamed to make some great things happen. Natalie was always composed and confident of her role and what she could contribute. She played with many outstanding players while at Southeastern and her skill and efforts made all of us perform better.”
At Southeastern, Natalie earned All-Conference honors and, as a senior, helped the Savagettes qualify for the AIAW Division II National Championship.
Brown’s statistics at Southeastern were impressive as she posted the fourth-best single-season scoring average at 21.2 points per game and the fifth-best single-season scoring with 633 total points. Those numbers still stand through all of the great players and records of Southeastern’s women’s basketball.
She was also in the top-10 in field goals made and attempted, free throws attempted and rebounds.
Brown had a great touch on the ball, grabbing many rebounds and softly laying the ball off the glass and into the hoop. That soft touch also added to her success at the free-throw line.
She was an outstanding rebounder, using her 6-1 size to block out so she could either shoot or make effective outlet passes.
Coach Hudson said, “Natalie was a good student of the game who had great anticipation. She was mobile with her good height and many times she was our “go to” person if we really needed to score.
“Like most post players, Brown was knocked around and shoved and held, but she kept her cool and played through it with great determination. She just made her move, turned and scored.
“Even with her ability to score, Natalie was an unselfish player who was happy with an assist or with setting a tough screen.
“She was a team player throughout her career at Southeastern.”
Brown coached one year of girls’ basketball at Stringtown. She is now married to John Cooksey and there are three children: Mick Brown, Sonya Cooksey and John T. Cooksey. She lives in Spencer, Oklahoma, after having taught in Oklahoma City and other area schools. She spends her time now “just being a grandma.”
“I’m very excited to even be nominated for this honor,” Natalie said. “I was thrilled to get the call telling me I had been selected. Basketball has been a very important part of my life. It helped me get a college degree and make some wonderful friends.
“I’m thrilled and honored to be inducted into the Southeastern Athletics Hall of Fame.”
Natalie Brown-Cooksey will be inducted into the Southeastern Oklahoma State University Athletics Hall of Fame at 5:30 p.m. Saturday, August 25.
A reception for the four inductees will begin at 4:30 p.m. Joining Natalie will be Charles Gulley (football and track), Kent Samuel (golf) and Cary Ammons (baseball).