Oct. 12, 2016
By Matt Winkeljohn | The Good Word
– As Lynn Houston Moore looks back on an athletic career that is about to come full circle with her Friday induction into the Georgia Tech Sports Hall of Fame, the former high jumper chuckled about her, um, basketball influences.
Given that she won four ACC titles for the Yellow Jackets, it’s a little bit funny that hoops had so much to do with her first official visit to campus in 1994, not to mention that she’s married now to former Tech basketball player Clarence Moore, to whom she was introduced by current Tech assistant Darryl LaBarrie.
It’s not likely to come up Friday when Lynn is inducted along with Calvin Johnson, Jarrett Jack, Nicholas Thompson, Brendon Mahoney, Eric Patterson, Michael Sorrow and Jaime Wong, but that maiden visit wasn’t all track and field.
Looking to be a heptathlete for the Jackets, she knew a thing or two about Tech already and learned more on campus thanks to Dear Dad. Her father, former Tennessee men’s basketball coach Wade Houston, made that recruiting trip, too.
“I had a lot of family in Louisville that had gone to Spelman [University] and really loved Atlanta. A high school teammate, Christina Elliott Campbell, was interested first [in Tech],” Houston Moore said. “I wrote the school and went there with my dad when he had just resigned from Tennessee.
“He knew [former Tech basketball] coach [Bobby] Cremins, and I remember spending more time in the basketball office than track.”
Houston Moore laughs at the telling of that tale; it’s not like basketball was a new theme.
Wade Houston in 1962 became the first African-American scholarship basketball player at Louisville. He later assisted Cardinals head coach Denny Crum for 13 years before becoming the first African-American head coach in the SEC when he took over at Tennessee in 1989.
Lynn’s older brother, Allan Houston, played for his father at Tennessee before forging a solid 12-year NBA career in which he averaged 17.3 points per game with the Pistons and Knicks. Twice, he was an All-Star.
So there were hoops in the Houstons, and Lynn had hops.
She played basketball through her sophomore year of high school in Knoxville before turning exclusively to track and field. The heptathlon didn’t work out for her at Tech, yet she most certainly remained multi-tracked.
Not every day will you find a top-notch athlete who simultaneously as a student earned four years of ACC Honor Roll recognition, won Tech’s “Total Person” award, and landed the ACC’s James Weaver Corrigan post graduate scholarship before graduating in 1999 with a degree in industrial engineering.
Lynn cleared all those high bars.
Add a Master’s degree in the same field in 2000, and you have a deluxe Hall of Fame candidate.
Even with three different jumping coaches in her first three years at Tech, she kept going higher. Houston Moore won ACC indoor and outdoor high jump titles in the winters/springs of 1996 and 1997, redshirted the 1998 indoor season with an ankle injury, and took All-ACC honors in the 1998 outdoor and 1999 indoor meets.
She earned All-America honors in 1099, finishing fourth in the NCAAs with a jump of 6-feet.
If there was a key to Houston Moore’s athletic success beyond the DNA bestowed upon her by parents Wade and Alice, and surely there was, it was the calming presence of her third and final jumping coach, Nat Page.
“He has such an amazing temperament,” she said. “I really felt like his approach worked better for me. He had a program where he would rest us well … to where our legs were fresh and bouncy.”
With personal bests of 6-feet outdoors and 5-10 ¾ indoors that remain third-best in Tech history, Lynn still gets excited talking about her jumping days.
At the 2000 Olympic Trials, she tied for seventh.
“I made it to the final, which to me was … I think I got a little complacent, got a little star-gazed thinking about things track kids think about,” Houston Moore recalled. “I was always an adrenaline jumper, but when I got to the finals, my second day didn’t go as well.”
When she put the ACC post-graduate scholarship to use in the fall of 1999, Clarence Moore was a freshman basketball player. Eventually, he was a member of the Jackets’ 2004 national runner-up squad.
“I don’t really remember a first meeting,” Houston Moore said. “We had mutual friends in Darryl LaBarrie, who played with Mo, and his wife. I was in graduate school, and training to try and make the Olympic team.”
Having finished her Master’s work in 2000, Houston Moore went to the trials, and then began working as an engineer for Velant, an Atlanta startup that specialized in the optimization of logistics.
Soon after Velant lost funding in 2003, Lynn returned to Tech and worked in the Athletic Association as an academic advisor.
“The curriculum at Georgia Tech — no matter what you are doing — you really are able to learn and adapt and bring a special talent to whatever you’re doing,” she said. “It requires so much of you there to do well, you are able to adapt.
“Sometimes, the parents would want to meet. I told them I felt like the education that they would get there would help them do whatever they wanted to do. You have to learn to learn.”
Lynn and Clarence married after he graduated in 2004, remaining in Atlanta to start a family that has grown to include five children before moving to Louisville in 2007. There, she worked with her parents’ company, Houston-Johnson, Inc., a logistics provider and warehouse management firm.
Five years ago, the family moved to Larose, La., near Clarence’s hometown of Norco, in the southeast part of the state.
Lynn is vice president and finance for Houston-Johnson, Inc., and Clarence is a manager with Edison Chouest Offshore.
To say they stay busy would be understatement.
Clarence’s daughter, Gabbie, is 14 and lives with the family part time. Ava is 8, Kylie is 7, Aaron is 5 and Channing is 3.
Coming from [a family of] three [children], I remember thinking, `I’m good with this number,’ ” Lynn said with a chuckle. “Mo wanted to be finished. I’m thankful, though, for all that we have.”
The kids keep Lynn (and Clarence), uh, jumping.
With all the commotion of family in the background, Mom had to shorten a phone call the other day shortly after bath time because Channing had, somehow, wedged something up her nose. A trip to the emergency room was in order.
Everything worked out, or rather a chunk of foam was pulled out. “The doctor said they see this kind of thing with beads around Mardi Gras,” Lynn said later with yet another laugh.
The Moores — all of them — will arrive in Atlanta Friday morning. Lynn is over the moon about her weekend, which will include being honored Saturday in Bobby Dodd Stadium at halftime of Saturday’s football game against Georgia Southern.
Her time at was Tech a treasure, and she’s so looking forward to jumping back into the trove with her parents, siblings, coaches, Elliott Campbell — her former high school and Tech teammate who is now an attorney in Atlanta — and more who helped shape her experience.
It wasn’t always easy, but it’s epic and marked forever now.
“I feel very honored, very humbled, very blessed to still have them,” she said. “My brother and sister will be there, my niece, quite a few teammates and friends who live in Atlanta. I feel very fortunate to re-connect with so many friends.
“The person I became at Georgia Tech, and the confidence and wisdom and ability to adapt that I gained by going into different situations because it was so tough academically … I was so homesick at first; I remember crying the first two weeks I was gone in that transition from our parents to being adults on our own.
“It helped me to know that God was always with me. I wouldn’t trade any of that training, and travel and friendships that I made.”