Prestigious honor puts Cheryl Mohr in “Hog Heaven”
Until a couple weeks ago, Fond du Lac’s Cheryl Mohr never thought much about her place in history as a member of the Arkansas Razorbacks women’s basketball team in the early 1980s. Today, as humble as she might be, Mohr can’t help but think about it. Mohr has been named to Arkansas’ 15-member Silver Anniversary team, honoring the women selected as the greatest to ever wear the Lady Razorback uniform.
“I didn’t even know about (the team) until they called me the first Sunday in January,” said Mohr, who traveled to Fayetteville this past weekend to participate in a special ceremony honoring the all-time team. “I had no idea. Never in my wildest dreams would I have expected to receive that kind of recognition 20 years after I was done playing.”
Today Mohr runs Higher Level Camps, a basketball development program offering opportunities for girls and boys in fifth through 12th grades through campus and traveling teams.
Mohr, who is married with two children (her name was Orcholski during her playing days), also teaches fourth grade at Fond du Lac Christian School in North Fond du Lac.
After receiving such high recognition for her accomplishments on the basketball floor, which include being the first Razorback drafted into the professional ranks in 1984, Mohr can’t help but look back with pride.
“I was blessed with the opportunity to play a major college basketball,” she said. “We had the opportunities to lay the foundation for a program, and we did. “To be named to this team, you come full circle. I feel honored and privileged to be put into that category.”
Mohr, whose teams went 67-27 during her final three seasons at Arkansas, grew up in an era before girls were afforded anywhere close to the same opportunities as boys to succeed in athletics.
She had an intense love for the game, however, which coupled with a headstrong, have-no-fear attitude allowed Mohr to develop her skills.
“We played in the streets or the playground,” said Mohr, who grew up in Milwaukee. “I was the only girl playing with the guys, and that helped me more than anything. When you play with the guys, there is a tendency to play at the next level just to compete.”
Mohr started at Milwaukee Hamilton High School, where she still held the all-time scoring mark until last season — despite the fact that she played in an era when girls were still using the bigger basketball and before the 3-point shot.
She earned All-State status at Hamilton, among other honors, before deciding to accept a scholarship to Arkansas to escape the cold and snowy winters of Wisconsin. She was a little out of place in Fayetteville, and her teammates couldn’t help but make fun of her “Northern” accent. She also brought a flamboyant style, and was even described in some circles as a “hot-dogger.”
Mostly, however, it was Mohr’s fierce work ethic which laid the foundation for her individual success as a point guard for the Lady Razorbacks.
“I think I brought a certain style being from the Midwest, and I hustled a lot,” Mohr said. “I can remember during practice coaches would let me sit out because I worked so hard. They used me as an example. Even my coach when I played pro ball (with the Columbus Minks) complimented me on that. I think it goes back to having a passion for the game. You like what you’re going and you enjoy it.”
Mohr still ranks sixth all-time in assists (332) and free-throw percentage (.804) at Arkansas, as well as 15th in points (1,125). She also held the school record for consecutive games played (123) until 1998.
“My job was to get the ball to the open person,” said Mohr, who admits that she was a bit flashy on the court but not necessarily a hot dog. “If you call making the behind-the-back pass or threading the needle to a teammate with a couple of defenders on you (being a hot dog), then yes,” she laughed.
Mohr returned to Arkansas to graduate after the pro league she played in for a year folded. She then decided to return home to Milwaukee, before opportunity brought her to Fond du Lac in the mid 1980s.
Mohr is not envious of the opportunities available to girls and women today which were not afforded to her. Rather she takes pleasure in the thought that she helped pave the way for today’s feminine athletes.
“We laid the foundation for the Lady Razorback program,” Mohr said with pride. Besides, Mohr isn’t sure if today’s girls are having as much fun as she did back in an era where, more or less, a female athlete had to do it all on her own.
“You just played for the love of the game back then,” Mohr said. “You didn’t have these organized leagues. It was a decision you developed.”