Carla (Lucas) Whitfield
Class of 1988
Carla Lucas Whitfield is only the sixth female athlete to be inducted into the Forrest City Athletic Hall of Fame, and just the second female from her era, joining Charlotte Fields Wright, a 2001 inductee.
She is a 1988 Forrest City High School graduate and played basketball for coach Joe Carden, playing most every position on the floor, from center in junior high to guard/forward in high school. She says she wasn’t that tall, but she knew the game of basketball.
She began playing in the seventh grade, but by the time she entered her ninth-grade year, the high school coaching staff moved her up to play with the senior high team, where she lettered for four years.
“My cousin, Nita Lucas, also played basketball and we played together,” Whitfield said. “Most people thought she was my sister so we just them think that, because we didn’t want to be separated. Even the newspaper stories referred to us as the Lucas sisters. She was a year ahead of me and graduated in 1987, so I had to play my senior year without her.”
It was during Whitfield’s junior season that the Fillies finished undefeated in the conference to go along with a 25-3 overall record.
“We went to the Class 4A state tournament and lost in the first round to Conway, which was very disappointing to me,” Whitfield said. “We were known as the “Beasts of the East” that year, but Conway slowed the game down and we liked to run. They froze us out and beat us 45-42.”
Whitfield did not leave Forrest City emptyhanded, drawing All-Conference honors as a freshman and sophomore and being named All-Conference, All-State and Honorable Mention All-American during her junior year and her senior season, under Coach Ray Gillespie.
Whitfield chose Cohoma Community College in Clarksdale, Miss., where she was earned Junior College All-American honors again. She completed her college basketball career at Jackson State University and was named the Southwestern Athletic Conference Newcomer of the Year.
“That was a big adjustment for me,” she says of college basketball. “In junior college, I was a shooting guard. At Jackson State they wanted me to be the point guard so I could distribute the ball. I knew I could score, but I worked hard to be the best at point guard because that was the area where they needed me.”
She is married to former NBA player Dwayne Whitfield and the couple lives in the Pine Tree Community north of Forrest City.
She is employed as a sports specialist with the Federal Bureau of Prisons in Forrest City, where she helps coordinate sports activities for the inmates.
The couple have two children, a son Dwaine, a sixth grader and Lashunda Curtis, who plays for the Forrest City Lady Mustangs.
“I remember when Charlotte was inducted, I thought what a great honor for Forrest City female athletes,” Whitfield said. “Once my name was called, I was elated. I wondered when my time would come, I just didn’t know when. When I played I was dedicated to basketball and to Forrest City and I still am.”
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