John Warren Womble

Year Inducted: 1981

Category: Coaches

Schools / Organizations: Peoria Cats
AAU Champions
USA Basketball

Biography: Arguably, Warren Womble coached the greatest amateur basketball team ever assembled in Illinois; not Ray Meyer (1945 DePaul) George Ireland (1963 Loyola) Chuck Orsborn (Bradley 1964), or Doug Mills and those great Whiz Kid teams of the mid 1940’s at Illinois. Womble was coach of the Peoria Cats for 10 seasons (1951-1960). Those Cats won 296 games and lost 126. Five times they were National Amateur Athletic Union Champions. In 1952, Womble’s Cats won the Olympic Trials Tournament and in 1960, placed second. Womble served as head coach of the 1952 Olympic team at Helsinki, Finland. Seven of his Cats; Phillip Oilers, Bob Kurland and several members of the University of Kansas Jayhawks (including Clyde Lovelette) overcame Russia 36-25, competing in its first Olympiad. Womble coached the World Tournament champions in 1954 in Brazil and the first U.S team to tour Russia in 1958. Womble served as assistant Olympic coach in 1960 at Rome. That team, which included Oscar Robertson, Jerry West and Terry Dischinger, defeated Brazil 90-63 for the title. In international competition, Womble’s teams were 34-0. Womble also served the National Industrial Basketball League as its first executive director. Professionally Warren worked for Caterpillar Tractor Co. in Peoria as a warehousing manager. John Warren Womble passed away on March 20, 2015 at the age of 96.