By Rich Winter
I was so very saddened to hear the news that 1987 Bennett County graduate Carla Allard Watson passed away after a long and courageous battle with cancer. Allard was very public about her cancer, shared it on social media, and kept us all in the loop.
Well, as the news came in, sister Cindy Allard’s Facebook page just blew up with well-wishes from people sharing stories, moments.
One post from a former opponent – My awesome teammates and I lost to Carla Allard Watson when we were seniors. I wasn’t even mad, just stood in awe. She went on to win a state basketball championship, break and set scoring records in high school and college and played professional basketball. She was truly inspired, knew God’s gifts are to be appreciated, lived and shared. She was one of my heroes – Mary Tobacco
I think a lot of people stood around in awe, at a lot of things this CHAMP did!
Had the opportunity to have breakfast with Carla and her mom Ann at the state track meet last spring. Oh, we talked about old times and laughed and just carried on….We got to talking about track, of course, and she said something like, “Kids today, no one thinks its possible to run the 400/800 double…I did that at every track meet, and the mile and two-mile relay.”
Yes she did….
In 1986 when Bennett County won the state team track title, they started day one with the 4x800 relay….Traci Ireland ran a brilliant opening 800 2:22’ish, Robbie Hicks…2:30, Sarah Clifford 2:28….Well, Allard got the baton in about 6th place and she rocketed around the first 400 in like 65…and she just kept coming. Tired, but still gritting her teeth and digging down, Allard was closing on Bon Homme anchor, Stacy Showers, just about got there, but ran out of real-estate.
Her split: 2:15….
“Five more feet and I would have had her,” Allard told me during our chance breakfast last May.
As a youngster growing up in Martin, I was always amazed at just how good our girls’ teams were. All the way from that first-team that made it to state to Lori Harrison and Kristi Hines and Winona Walker and Cindy Allard and Maneen Baker and Stacy Spiedel and Paula Sterkal…and others, on and on really
From 1983-1987 I witnessed a state golf title, a state basketball title, a state track title and a state volleyball title. Other than golf, Allard had a hand on all those trophies
Carla and Darla forever linked…WOW – BOB HOPKINS….The Maestro.
Really honored to have seen a lot of Carla Allard’s achievements before she ran off to be an All American in Rapid City and go to New Zealand and play professionally. The gyms were always packed, the crowds insane….It was so much fun because we had Carla and WE were going to WIN!
Several years back, Allard was inducted into the South Dakota Basketball Hall of Fame.
BENNETT COUNTY ‘LADY WARRIORS’ – 1987
Chosen all-conference during each of her five seasons as a starter at Bennett County, Carla Allard-Watson scored 2,835 points for the Lady Warriors. That was the most in the history of South Dakota girls basketball at the time of her graduation.
The Lady Warriors were championship caliber in a variety of sports. They earned state titles in basketball, volleyball and track behind the leadership of Allard-Watson.
She was named to the all-state basketball team four years, was selected all-state in volleyball three years, and in track was a state champion in the 800 meters.
Bennett County was coached by Bob Hopkins and won the Class A basketball championship during Allard-Watson’s senior season in 1986.
The Lady Warriors topped Tri-Valley 57-52 in the finals. Allard-Watson was a dominant presence and totaled a tournament record 95 points. She was selected to the all-tourney team four years.
The 5-foot-11 center scored a single-game high of 59 points. During her final three seasons Allard-Watson achieved consecutive season point totals of 684, 642 and 735. She was named the state’s co-Miss Basketball.
Allard-Watson moved on to become a record setting four-year starter at National American University, then called National College, in Rapid City. While with the Lady Mavericks she played for Coach Kieran Huber and finished as the school’s career scoring leader. She also was a standout on the volleyball team, earning four letters in both basketball and volleyball.
Following her graduation Allard-Watson played basketball professionally in New Zealand. She was inducted into the NAU Hall of Fame.
Allard-Watson is a program director for the Black Hills Special Services Cooperative. She and husband Kevin live in Rapid City. Children are KJ and Kyah.
Our deepest condolences to Allard Watson’s family as they go through this moment. Over the years I’ve had the opportunity to see a lot of those championship banners, and stuff like the school track records. Hundreds of young ladies have looked at those track marks and had to have said, “Whoa…who is Carla Allard.”
A mother, a fighter, a champion, wife, and a Hometown Hero like we may never see again….RIP.