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Dr. Charlotte West: From Athlete to Advocate to Athletic Director: Blazing the Way for Women’s Basketball

Charlotte West was a little worried. She’d been told she has only five minutes to speak at her Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame induction. “I thought, my Lord, I’ve been involved in competitive women’s basketball for 70 years. I started listing things that I want to say that I’m like, oh my gosh, this should be an hour and a half.”

Born in 1932 in Michigan, West and her sister were adopted by a couple in New York. She spent much of her early years “snow-birding” as her family traveled from upstate New York down to Florida until school administrators put a stop to it. “That out and in several times a year was really interfering with [my sister’s] progress in school. My parents were called in and they said, ‘she needs to be tutored and to put keep her one place or the other.’ So starting in the fifth grade, I did all my schooling in St. Petersburg.”

West’s earliest sports memory is playing 7th grade basketball. “We probably only had three or four games,” she recalled. “But I can remember playing and feeling very empowered.” She so wanted her own hoop and a basketball but, though her parents were supportive – even though neither of them were particularly athletic — it was wartime. “Everything was rationed. If it was rubber or leather, like a basketball would be, you couldn’t get it.” Yet somehow, they managed. “We were on our way to Memphis to visit my father’s relatives where we spent our Christmases and spent the night in Dothan, Alabama,” said West. “We were walking around after dinner and found a sports store and it had a basketball. So my father bought me that for Christmas. I tell you, that basketball got plenty of use.”

Basketball in the land of oranges

West played three years in junior high and three years at St. Petersburg High School. “I had a great high school coach,” she reflected, who “did it for the love of the sport because they didn’t get supplemental pay.” As a player, West describes herself as “Fast. Very, very fast. So I mainly played forward. I did play guard sometimes, when they wanted to substitute different people, and of course I loved the rover because she got to move.” Things changed, though, when she started college. “I went to Florida State and we had nothing,” she stated bluntly. “Nothing.”

Fortunately, St. Petersburg was part of the AAU/Industrial Leagues that swept across the country during World War II. Many companies such as Maytag, Kelvinator, Dr. Pepper and such, sponsored basketball, softball and volleyball teams in an effort to build worker cohesion and brand recognition. “When I was junior or senior in high school St. Petersburg had R.H. Hall (an appliance store company). They would play [teams from] Miami, Jacksonville, Orlando, Tampa. So I got some early experience with a higher level of play. When I got into college, I played with them a few times when it was convenient to get away from school.”

While at FSU, West completed a double major in Math and Physical Education. “I loved math and I was good in it,” said West, “but I also loved sports and I knew I wanted to teach. And at that time there was a little stigma if you were in Phys. Ed. I don’t know if there was some protective mechanism there or not, but I did my practice teaching in Physical Education in Jacksonville, but I did it with the condition that I could go in and do a class in plain geometry at the high school so I’d be qualified to do both.” After she graduated from Florida State she returned to St. Petersburg to be with her mother – her father had died two months previously – and started as the physical education teacher and, eventually, coach at Boca Ciega High School.

Pushed off the court and into organizing

West continued her studies at UNC–Greensboro, one of the two prominent graduate schools for women in Physical Education (Texas Women’s being the other). “I visited with both chairs of the department and I just liked the connection at Greensboro.” It couldn’t have hurt that there was a local AAU/Industrial team that seemed more and willing to bring on West and her fellow student, Joan S. Hult (who later went on to write A Century of Women’s Basketball: From Frailty to Final Four). The two arranged a tryout during a game and, she recalled, “we clicked. We did really well and [the coach] was excited about us. He said, ‘Now you ladies, you are coming back every time aren’t you?’ I said, ‘yeah.’ Unfortunately, the news didn’t go over so well at the University.

“We got to school the next day and we both had a note in our boxes in our mailboxes in the P.E. Department. The head of the department called us in and she said, ‘I understand that you’re down playing city league basketball and we just don’t let our majors do that.’ She turned to Joan and said, ‘You’re a graduate assistant, so I’m telling you, you will not play.’ She looked at me and said, ‘I can’t tell you that (West was on an academic scholarship) but I think it would be to your advantage not to.’ In typically direct fashion, West countered, “Miss. Morris, I love sports, I love to play and I think it’s a crime that we don’t have more for women.’ So,” continued West, “she puts me in charge of a inter-class tournament for all the PE majors. So we played, but that was her ‘solution.’”

After West completed her Masters in Physical Education and Dance, the same department head directed her to Southern Illinois University because, explained West, “she said they do more for women sports and she knew my intent to work towards varsity athletics for women–which I was told might hinder my professional success.”

Nothing could have been farther from the truth.

Small acorns, great oaks

West arrived at Southern Illinois in 1957 began a 41-year career of advocacy and action in women’s intercollegiate athletics. She coached of the women’s golf team for over 12 years (winning the national championship in 1969), badminton for seven years, and volleyball for one year. She also coached women’s basketball from 1959 to 1975 – all while serving as a professor in the Department of Physical Education. In 1973, she became a full professor (having gotten her doctorate at Wisconsin-Madison in Physical Education with a minor in Educational Measurement) and developed SIU’s graduate program in Sports Management, which she directed until June 1991. From 1960 to 1986, West was director of intercollegiate athletics for women and led the transformation of the department into a nationally recognized program with a budget of more than $1 million for 11 sports. After the merger of the men’s and women’s athletics departments, she served as associate athletics director for one year, interim director for another and associate athletics director for 10 years.

In parallel with her duties SIU, West became heavily involved with Title IX legislation, serving as a consultant for the Health, Education, and Welfare portions of Title IX that related to athletics. Since the NCAA was not willing to sponsor championships for women, West helped do so through the American Association of Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (AIAW) – and organization for which she also served as president. With the dissolution of the AIAW (1981-82), West continued her work advocating for equity in in athletics by serving on the NCAA’s Committee on Financial Aid and Amateurism, the Committee on Athletic Certification, and the Gender Equity Task Force. She spent five years (1992-97) on the NCAA Council, a 44-member group that governed collegiate athletics and was the first woman member of the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA), eventually being inducted into the NACDA Hall of Fame (2006). The first recipient of the Woman Administrator of the Year Award from the National Association of Collegiate Women Athletics Administrators, in 1996 West was also named the first recipient of the Honda Award of Merit— a national honor given for outstanding achievement in women’s collegiate athletics. She retired from SIU in 1998.

Looking back, looking forward

When she reflects on all she did, the teaching, the coaching, running tournaments and serving on panels and committees, she laughs. “Billie Jean King talked about their efforts in the ‘70s and she says, ‘when I think back I have to take a nap.’ It’s a good line. I think back and wonder, ‘My gosh, how did I live through it? How did I do it?’ But you know, you are driven because you love what you were doing. We could see so much progress. And, yes, we had setbacks, but it just it was exciting. It was an exciting time of seeing your efforts come to fruition.”

For all that was accomplished, West knows that the work is not close to being over. “You know, we’ve documented that men’s participation is growing at a more rapid rate than women. We’re not even close to equity in participation. The budgets are just extreme,” she continued. “The men are just gaining twice as much every year as the women, and people just seem to say, ‘well, as long as the women are getting a little something everything’s okay.’ The administration is going down you know the number of women in athletic director roles has been flat or now starting downwards, which is a huge surprise.”

“A lot of people don’t realize that if it hadn’t been for AIAW, we wouldn’t have had that growth and we wouldn’t have had a billion dollar television contract — all these things that really happened in the 70s. It’s a kind of a paradox for some of us,’ said West. “We worked so hard to give the athletes the benefits they have today, the opportunities. So you rejoice in that. But then you’re saddened by the fact that they don’t know how they got there. No respect whatsoever, you know they expect these benefits which — I’m glad that they’re there for them — but they don’t appreciate them. They don’t understand how you have to continue to strive.” She takes some comfort from a friend who heads the SIU Department of Philosophy. “She said, ‘every great movement rises, and then there is always this falling back.’” West paused a moment. “Just so long as it doesn’t it fall back to where you started.”

******

Historical note: Women’s basketball history owes a debt to Dr. Ellyn Bartges, who earned that prefix through her research on and interviews with Dr. West. “Circle more before you land”: an ethnography of feminist leader Dr. Charlotte West is now posted at IDEALS: Illinois Digital Environment for Access to Learning and Scholarship.

Additional information: Charlotte West, interviews by Ellyn L. Bartges, audio and print transcripts, Family Memories Collection, Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library, Springfield, IL.  Three interviews over six years were conducted, (March 2005, June 2009, and August 2011) .

You’re also invited to check out What about the character of the girls?: Girls and Women’s Basketball in Illinois, 1968-1977.”

Illinois hosted its first Girls’ State Basketball Tournament in 1977, five years after the U.S. Congress passed the landmark Title IX legislation. Title IX led to an explosion in the growth of women’s sports in the United States, dramatically changing American culture in the process. This collection of oral history interviews chronicles that story and the early struggles for both Illinois girls’ basketball (high school level) and women’s basketball (collegiate level) throughout the country. The twenty-six interviews in this collection were conducted beginning in 2004 by Ellyn Bartges, herself a participant in Illinois’ first tournament in 1977. Ellyn designed the oral history project and conducted the interviews as part of her master’s capstone project at Western Illinois University, under the direction of Dr. Virginia Boynton of the WIU History Department.    

In 2010 Ellyn Bartges was interviewed about her own life story and the creation of this oral history collection by Mark R. DePue, Director of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library Oral History program

The page includes interviews with various folks including: Dr. West, Jill Hutchinson, Gail Marquis, Billie Moore, Chris Voelz and Holly Warlick.

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Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame Class of 2014: Lin Dunn played “like a guy,” built legacy for women’s game

Trace your finger down Lin Dunn’s resume, and the legacy that earned her a place in the 2014 Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame is quickly revealed.

Drawing on a potent combination of humor, energy, advocacy, vision and straight up orneriness, she created women’s basketball programs at Austin Peay State University (1970-77), University of Mississippi (1977-78) and Miami University (1978-87). She coached at Purdue for nine years (1987-96), where she collected three Big 10 conference titles, made seven NCAA tournament appearances, four Sweet Sixteen appearances, and a trip to the Final Four in 1994. In 1997 she transitioned to the professional game, earning Coach of Year honors in her first and only year in the ABL (1998). In 1999, she spearheaded the establishment the new WNBA Seattle Storm franchise, serving as coach and general manager for the team’s first three years. She joined the Indiana Fever staff in 2004 as an assistant. Named head coach for the 2008 season, Dunn led the Fever to the WNBA championship in 2012.

For all that, one has to wonder what might have happened had she been born decade later.

“To be honest with you,” said Dunn, “I was probably was a better player than I am a coach.”

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How can you miss an opportunity to hear Lin Dunn?

The rest of the crew ain’t so shabby, neither: former WNBA players Yolanda Griffith and Michelle Edwards, former University of Maryland and Yugoslavian star Jasmina (Jazz) Perazik, and women’s basketball contributors Mimi Griffin and Charlotte West.

The 1976 Olympic National Team will get some love, too:

Cindy Brogdon
Susan Rojcewicz
Ann Meyers
Lusia Harris
Nancy Dunkle
Charlotte Lewis
Nancy Lieberman
Gail Marquis
Patricia Roberts
Mary Anne O’Connor
Patricia Head
Juliene Simpson

Speaking of USA Basketball: The U19 team advanced to their fifth-straight World Championship Gold Medal Game with their 77-54 defeat of Australia.

“Obviously that second quarter, that was one of the most thrilling moments in coaching ever,” said Meier. “That run, that 21-0 run was just so hard earned. It didn’t come easy. They didn’t cough up the ball. Kids were covering and fighting and pursing balls. It was really, really tough. We played very, very hard in that stretch.”

The gold will be no cakewalk, as they will face a French squad that, earlier in the tournament, gave them everything they could handle. The game will be broadcast on ESPN3 tomorrow at 1:15 EST.

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More WBHOF stuff:

From Mechelle: Wicks reflects on satisfying career – Former Liberty, Rutgers star part of Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame’s 2013 class

For Wicks, the feeling was at its peak when she played in Madison Square Garden with teammates like Teresa Weatherspoon and Vickie Johnson, and against foes like Cynthia Cooper and Tina Thompson.

She knows they all felt it. In those early years of the WNBA, so much seemed groundbreaking and even breathtaking.

“I think you just experience it, and you don’t know how to really talk about it,” Wicks said. “But even now, if I see Spoon or Vickie — they know exactly what it is, and we don’t say anything. Or even Cynthia or Tina. There’s a great deal of love there, and respect, even between fierce competitors. Because it brought something out of each one of us.”

From KBTX: Blair to be Inducted into Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame

“I have had the great opportunity to interact with the other inductees having either coached or coached against them and it will be an honor to stand beside them as we are inducted this weekend,” Blair said. “When you begin your career you do not even think of the Hall of Fame, you dream of NCAA Tournament appearances, Final Fours or the ultimate dream of a National Championship. The Hall of Fame is never one of your goals, because nobody can make the Hall without great teammates or assistant coaches. The honor is mind-boggling because of who is already in the Hall of Fame and to think that some of my former players or assistants will hopefully be able to join me in Knoxville really makes me appreciate how fortunate I am to have had their support throughout my career.”

From Dan Fleser: Signature moment epitomized Jennifer Rizzotti’s play – Fame is another move for Rizzotti and Mike Anthony from the Hartford Courant adds: Rizzotti Touched By Warm Reception At Pre-Hall Of Fame Gala

“A number of years ago, we took our basketball team to Italy,” said Sullivan, who will escort Rizzotti to the stage for her induction. “I ran [every morning] by this building in Rome. I didn’t even notice it the first two days. The third day, I stopped. The statues, the window work, the details. Because Rome is so saturated with all these iconic things, I hadn’t even noticed the building. Sometimes I feel like that’s what life with Jen is like. She’s gotten so much done and accomplished so many things, that if you’re not constantly looking at it you’ll miss some things.

“When the things you’re really great at transcend basketball, then you know you’re going to be a hall of fame daughter, a hall of fame sister, a hall of fame mother, a hall of fame wife. That’s why, wherever she goes, she’s been able to do whatever she’s done. Although I run by that building a little too often, I assure you, I promise you, that I know how beautiful it is.”

Dan also notes, Peggy Gillom-Granderson surprised to be Women’s Hall inductee

Peggie Gillom-Granderson’s accomplishments speak volumes on her behalf.

Just as well, since she still struggles to grasp the sum of her women’s basketball career at Ole Miss. The 2,486 points and 1,271 rebounds she amassed added up to phone call last summer from long-time acquaintance Eddie Clinton, informing Gillom-Granderson that she will be inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame. She called him back the next day just to make sure it was true.

From the Times Free Press: UTC’s Foster ready for Women’s College Basketball Hall of Fame induction

“I’m sure it will hit me when I’m there,” Foster said. “But I’m not going to predetermine what my feelings are. I have to experience things. I’ve been asked about a lot of things, but I have to experience them.”

From the Daily Progress: Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame to honor Wayland Baptist Flying Queens

The Flying Queens are only the fourth “Trailblazer of the Game” to be recognized, joining the All-American Red Heads, Edmonton Grads and the Former Helms/Citizens Savings/Founders Bank. Each group has a display at the Hall of Fame.

The five teams, then known as the Hutcherson Flying Queens – carrying the name of their sponsor, Claude Hutcherson, a local fixed-base operator who flew the teams to their games in his fleet of Bonanza aircraft – also won four consecutive AAU championships during the streak. Texas Monthly magazine did a feature on the streak in March and a company in Denver is planning a documentary on the same subject.

From TexasSports.com: Smith-Knight to be inducted into Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame Class of 2013: Texas’ all-time leading scorer becomes the fifth member of the Women’s Basketball family to earn Hall of Fame induction.

“In the most simple words, we built the Texas Women’s Basketball program on the back of Annette,” UT Women’s Athletics Director Chris Plonsky said. “We have probably never had a more humble, yet effusive, superstar. In her prime, Annette was great because of her sheer-natural talent. Her competitiveness and her zest for playing were unmatched. Every great player that came to play at Texas came because of Annette.”

Smith-Knight was a first-team All-American (1984) and a two-time Southwest Conference Player of the Year (1983, 1984) as a sophomore and junior who also won a gold medal for USA Basketball at the 1983 World University Games. She paced Conradt’s squad to a runner-up finish at the 1982 AIAW Championship in addition to a pair of NCAA “Elite Eight” showings (in 1983 and 1984).

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Gary Blair, Texas A&M
From the Dallas Morning News: Texas A&M’s Gary Blair part of women’s basketball Hall of Fame class

“The honor is humbling, and I feel I should be thanking players, assistant coaches and administrators for their belief in me instead of receiving accolades for what I consider a team award,” Blair said. “The roll call of the people that are in the Hall of Fame is mind boggling. So many of them have helped shape my life in coaching as mentors, role models, and players I have had an opportunity to coach or compete against.”

Jim Foster, Ohio State
From Mel: Foster entering Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame

“It’s hard to get a grasp on the magnitude of the honor when you’ve still only recently gotten the news,” said Foster, who was informed three weeks ago by Carol Callan, the president of the Hall’s board of directors.

Peggie Gillom-Granderson, Mississippi

Jennifer Rizzotti, UConn
From Lori Riley at the Hartford Courant: Jen Rizzotti Going Into Women’s Basketball Hall Of Fame

“Jen has done more to create interest in playing basketball among girls than any other person I know,” Auriemma said. “She deserves to be in the Hall of Fame. She deserves to be in every Hall of Fame. I know she’s in mine.”

Annette Smith-Knight, Texas
From the Statesman:

“This is a privilege that comes with a lot of surprise, too. At my age, you start to think that all of the awards and honors are in the past,” Smith-Knight said. “This announcement brings such a smile to my face and brings a flood of emotions and wonderful memories of my career at Texas.”

Sue Wicks, Rutgers
From the Star-Ledger: Rutgers great Sue Wicks elected to the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame and an old Q&A:

WB: Have you considered how Rebecca’s injury impacted your career?

SW: Rebecca was playing 35 minutes the year before, so those minutes just came to me. I think I still played a “role” for the team. But you never know what would have happened. Maybe (new coach) Richie Adubato wouldn’t have like Rebecca’s game. That’s sports — you never can say, “Well what if this happened, what if that happened.” You’d lose so much sleep. (Laughs)

It’s a lot of luck in sports — to land on the right team, and to be there and at the right moment. You have to work hard every day until your luck arrives. Because luck does come, it’s just that sometimes we’re not prepared for it.

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From Twin Cities/Pioneer Press: Bob Sansevere: Hall and fame find All American Red Heads, women’s basketball pioneers

Ever hear of the All American Red Heads? If you have, you know a bit more basketball history than most. (Why yes, Bob, readers of the WHB are quite informed! :-))

“This wasn’t a big outfit. This was a mom-and-pop outfit,” said former Red Heads player Diane Martinson, who lives in Lonsdale, Minn. “Ole Olson started it in 1936 and had it for 10 years. It was called the Red Heads because his wife had a beauty parlor and they were promoting the beauty parlor and the team. Back then, it was all marketing. We always wore makeup, always wore dress clothes. If you went on a date, it always was a double date.”

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To the All American Red Heads, Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Class of 2012

If you want more information on the All American Red Heads, go here.

A few years ago I interviewed AARH coach Orwell Moore after the passing of his wife:

The death of Lorene “Butch” Moore, 76, this past April in Caraway, Arkansas marked the passing of an important link in the slender chain of women’s basketball history. Moore amassed 35,426 points in 11 seasons with the All-American Red Heads – a team that barnstormed across the United States between 1936 and 1986.

Moore and her husband, Orwell, 84, joined the Red Heads in 1948 – she as a player, he as coach. The Red Heads played full court basketball by men’s rules, playing 175-200 games a season. Made up of high school All-Americans and college standouts and sporting “red” (real and dyed) hair, the players were serious about winning: From 1936-73, they never won less than 100 games a year. In 1953, they won 134 games. In 1972, multiple All-American Red Heads teams won 558 games and lost 84 – all against men’s teams. “We wanted to show the crowd that we could play basketball,” says Coach Moore. “And if you couldn’t play basketball, you better stay home.”

Crisscrossing the heartland of the country, the Red Heads won over fans with a combination of skill, charm and showmanship. During the half-time show, for instance, Moore would get on her knees and sink 25 free throws in a row. She could also dribble up and when she went for the lay-up bounce it off her head and into the hoop. A great pivot, Coach Moore remembers his wife as “a dynamic basketball player with a dynamic personality and a lot of quick wit.” At about 5’7″, Moore was an uncanny passer who drove opponents to distraction with her shooting ability.

Coach Moore recalls one particularly memorable moment during a game when Moore had already scored 33 points. “The boy who was guarding her – when they threw the ball in to her at pivot – he just grabbed her up and run her out of bounds,” laughs the coach. “He ran her off out of fun and called, ‘Time out! You’re out of bounds!'”

Being part of the team was a deep source of pride for both Coach Moore and his wife. Honored by the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association in 1996, the All-American Red Heads have a permanent exhibit in the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame. It’s something Coach Moore knows in his heart the players deserved, not just because of their skill, but because of the sense of team and family they had.

“I want to be remembered as a Christian,” Coach Moore remembers his wife telling him. “I want to be remembered as a citizen of the United States. And I want to be remembered as an All-American Red Head.”

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more changes.

Crawley is gone at BC.

And, on her own terms, Midland Lutheran (NE) coach — the only one the program has had for 42 years — Joanne Bracker has decided to retire. And inaugural member of the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame, Bracker is the all-time winningest coach in the history of NAIA women’s basketball.

“Coach is a legend,” said Midland University President Ben Sasse. “Her accomplishments on the court have earned her a place among the elite in college basketball history. Joanne’s vision and work created opportunities and hope for countless girls through her camps. And to the women who’ve come to Midland, she has regularly changed lives as an advisor and mentor. Her legacy here at Midland goes well beyond the court. And beyond this time, her tireless work to change the game of women’s basketball will be felt for generations to come.”

(Thanks, Paul, for the heads up.)

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Knox County officials to discuss selling Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame

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are confirmed:

The 2011-12 women’s collegiate basketball season will be tipped off in style as the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame teams up with State Farm, Intersport and ESPN to host the 2011 State Farm Tip-Off Classic on November 15. This year’s Tip-Off Classic will feature the University of Tennessee versus the University of Miami in Knoxville, TN (5 p.m., ESPN2).

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From Mechelle: VanDerveer, Edwards head to HOF: Road together wasn’t always smooth, but Naismith inductees took game to new levels

Edwards had a lot on her mind in late 1995, because she knew the next year would be one of the most important of her career. Team USA would be trying to regain Olympic gold, and the pro women’s basketball league she was invested in — the ABL — would be launching. Meanwhile, VanDerveer also was consumed with what she was expected to accomplish in 1996 while away from a very successful Stanford team.

“We weren’t the best of buddies; it was a long year,” Edwards said of she and VanDerveer. “Looking back, I think it was partly because in Tara, I met someone that shared the same intensity for the game that I did … but with that came tension.

“I have respect for her, and I learned a lot about her. I learned I wasn’t the only one who loved the game so much. We were part of something brilliant. We helped change the dynamics of turning the corner professionally for women’s basketball in this country.”

 

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but was too crazed this year to give the WBHOF inductees the attention they deserved.

Mechelle didn’t miss Val, though: As usual, Val Ackerman leads the way – Former WNBA president among six Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame 2011 inductees

Ackerman, an attorney who went to work for the NBA in 1988, was instrumental in helping shepherd in the existence of the WNBA. But she really does not take any credit for that; rather, she praises Stern.

“He made it happen,” Ackerman said. “He’s one of the most important figures in the history of women’s sports, and I don’t think he ever gets enough recognition for that.”

I appreciate that sentiment, and I hope Stern is also honored one day in the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame. But I’ve always thought that Ackerman was a pivotal figure — the right person at the right time — in women’s sports history, too.

She would never say that. I seriously doubt she has even thought about it. Ackerman is your standard high-achieving over-scheduler; someone who probably needs two Blackberries just to keep up with all her activities.

Mel has some notes on the ceremonies, but yet again I can’t make the dang page load.

Check HoopFeed for a great round up of the coverage, including

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that doesn’t mean I’m done!”

Leta Andrews is on the brink of becoming prep basketball’s all-time win leader – Granbury (Texas) girls basketball coach needs 5 wins to surpass record for either gender.

During the 2005-06 season, she set the girls’ record when she reached victory No. 1,218. That night she was presented a crystal plate by Robert Hughes of Dunbar (Fort Worth, Texas), who holds the national boys record with 1,333 victories.

She thanked him, then quickly added, “Coach Hughes, now I’m going to start chasing you.”

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It makes me smile to know I’m not alone in my obsession.

The most dominant player you’ve [more than likely] never heard of [unless you’re some kind of history weirdo nut]

If you ever saw an almost 7 feet tall figure wearing USSR or TTT Riga uniform in the 70ies and 80ies, you knew it was going to be a long night. That’s because you were playing against Uljana Semjonova – the most dominant player in the world for almost two decades.

She has accomplished everything there was to in women’s basketball at that time. Having never lost in international competitions representing USSR she has 2 Olympic gold medals, 3 World Championship gold medals, 10 European Championship gold medals, representing team TTT Rīga from the former Soviet Republic of Latvia she won 15 Soviet National Championships and 12 European Clubs’ Cup Championships (predecessor of EuroLeague Women). She has also scored more than 15000 points in her 24 year pro career.

She was the first non-US born woman to be inducted in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1993, she was an inaugural member of the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in the class of 1999, in 2007 she was also an inaugural member of the FIBA Hall of Fame class.

All these accomplishments can be found in many places, but that’s not why this post is here. It’s here to tell her story that’s rarely known on the West side of the former “Iron Curtain”.

 

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takes note of Val Ackerman’s WBHOF nod.

While at Virginia from 1977-1981, Ackerman was a four-year starter and two-time All-American. She was among the first women’s scholarship athletes at UVa, was a three-time captain of the Cavaliers and helped and helped Virginia reach national Top 20 rankings her senior year. Following college, she played professionally in France for one season.

Ackerman went on to UCLA for her law degree, after which she worked for two years at a top New York law firm. In 1988, she served as a staff attorney for the National Basketball Association and as special assistant to NBA Commissioner David Stern, director of business affairs and vice president of business affairs prior to her appointment to head the WNBA in 1996.

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From SCNow and Lou Bezjak:  Women’s hoops trailblazers reminisce about playing days

Pearl Moore and Tanya Crevier don’t regret playing in the era of women’s basketball they did.

Moore, the former Wilson and Francis Marion standout, and Crevier, who played at South Dakota State, were on the ground floor of the women’s professional basketball movement in the United States in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

You can read more about  the WBL in Karra Porter’s book, Mad Seasons.

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