Girls and Hoops: A Retrospective
By Marsha Reeves
I played girl’s basketball in high school, even as a 5’3”shortie. In my junior and senior years, 1965 and 1966, we played in the gym after school. The gym teachers were our refs and coaches, and there was no play with other schools. Our teams changed every time we played, because the teams' size and personnel depended on who showed up. We wore pinnies over our gym shorts and t-shirts so we could tell one team from another.
At that time it was known for sure that girls couldn’t play as hard or as long as boys could, so we never crossed the centerline during play. You’d get a foul if you did. As I understood it then, that was to protect our delicate bodies from overexertion. A guard would get a rebound, dribble to the center line and pass it to the center or a forward.
And a jump shot was just that. Two girls in the center circle surrounded by the rest of the teams, jumping up to slap the ball to a teammate after it was tossed up by the ref /gym teacher. That’s how we started the games too. In those respects it was a bit like hockey.
Nobody came to watch, not even parents. It was just for us girls. There was certainly no sportscasting, press or photos in the paper. No conference games, trophies or play offs. And we absolutely loved it. Playing basketball was one of my greatest pleasures in high school.
Following our Newaygo Girls Basketball team this year has been the highlight of the pandemic. Their prowess with the ball, grace in action, functional togetherness as a team plus their strength of mind and heart have been beautiful to watch. Absolutely beautiful! And at least once a game the old part of my brain marvels at the press coverage, media photos, coaches on the sidelines, real refs, uniforms, filled bleachers, big lit scoreboards and the cheering student section. And they run all the way down the court! Seeing these changes is almost as gratifying as watching ‘our girls’ win game after game and title after title. Almost.
THANK YOU TITLE IX and the 92ND United States CONGRESS!!!!!
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