Vivian Dixon was one of those high school athletes who was born too soon.
She is arguably the best girls basketball player to ever play at Warner Robins. But she did it in an era where there were no opportunities for girls to continue playing after the 12th grade.
Although there was a women’s college game played in 1892 between the University of California and Miss Head’s School, colleges for the most part didn’t begin offering the sport as an intercollegiate competition until around 1970.
Mercer was one of the first schools in the South to start a women’s team, playing its first games in the 1970-71 season. Georgia didn’t field its first women’s basketball team until the 1973-74 campaign, followed a year later by Georgia Tech.
Dixon played in the early 1960s when girls basketball was a 6-on-6 affair. Teams had three guards and three forwards, and only the forwards could score in what was basically a half-court game. Team A’s forwards played against Team B’s guards on one end of the court, and, following a basket or a turnover, you would go to the other end of the court where Team B would go on offense with its forwards against Team A’s guards.
Dixon played for head coach Sid White, whose teams were always in the hunt for a state championship. Between 1960 and 1970, Warner Robins finished as state runners-up in 1960, 1962 and 1966, and were third (there was a consolation game then) in 1961, 1963, 1964, 1967 and 1968. The team’s lone state title came in 1965, the year after Dixon graduated, when they edged Cherokee County 49-47.
Possessing a picture-perfect jump shot, Dixon averaged 40.2 points a game as a senior, She scored 71 points in a win over Moultrie and bettered that against Fort Valley, setting a then-state record with 72 in a 116-28 win over the Green Wave.
Warner Robins averaged better than 80 points a game her senior year, rolling to a 24-0 regular-season record. Warner Robins lost in the GHSA Class AAA semifinals to eventual state champion Cherokee 59-33, Dixon managing only 15 points. In the final game of her career, the consolation game of the 1964 tournament, she scored 53 points as Warner Robins finished the year 26-1.
While there was no opportunity for her to play at the collegiate level, she did continue to play as a member of the semipro Atlanta Tomboys in both basketball and softball. Her association with that team also led to a job with a computer company where Tomboys coach Johnny Moon worked. She was one of the first female computer programmers.
She spent seven seasons with the Tomboys before retiring and moving to Boston, where she resides today.
She has had numerous surgeries related to her athletics career throughout the years, including knee and shoulder operations and just recently had a complete knee replacement.
I had the opportunity to see Dixon in action in the GHSA Class AAA tournament in Valdosta in 1963, and there is no doubt that she would have been a sensational player at the college level. She was just plain good.
Contact Bobby Pope at firstname.lastname@example.org.