All American Red Heads 1936-1986

Barnstorming Player Bio's

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Below are bio's of players that played for teams other than the Red Heads

Ginny (Hill) Butz - Texas CowGirls - 1959-1963

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I grew up on a farm, near Hesper, ND. My Dad saw to it that I had a Basketball hoop both outdoors and one indoors in the haymow to use in the wintertime.

  

When I was in the 6th Grade Hesper had two years of High School. I got to play those two years on the high school team. When I was in the 8th grade they let me play on the boys team. We won all the regular season games, but when it came time for the tournament, they would not let me play.


When I got into high school in Maddock, they had nothing for girls in sports. Not even Physical Education. They just gave us the credit.


The year after I graduated the Texas Cowgirls came to Maddock to play. As I was walking into the gym to watch the game I meet the coach of the Texas Cowgirls (Shirley Dorow) and coach of the men’s team in the hallway. The coach of the men’s team new me and said to the coach of the Cowgirls, “there is a gal that can play ball for you” She stopped me and asked if I wanted to try out after the game? I said sure. I remember I did not hit many shots as, I was so nervous. They evidently liked my ball handing. To top it all off I was left-handed and had a left-handed hook shot that was hard to stop.


Shortly after the try out I had a letter from Dempsey Hovland. Dempsey wanted me to join the team in Bismarck, as they were traveling with the Globetrotters for two weeks playing the preliminary games. I wanted to very badly, but my folks would not let me do that. By this time I had been out of high school a couple years, one-year attending college and another coaching the Hesper boys grade school basketball team.


I still had my heart set on playing for the Texas Cowgirls. Dempsey Hovland the owner was writing me and asking me to come into training camp and try out.


I finally got the approval of my parents, but I had no money to get to training camp. Dad told me to take the combine and go out around the slews and the money I got for the flax I could have to get to training camp. I managed to scrap up 60 bushels of flax; at $4.00 a bushel was more then enough to get me into camp.

Much to my delight I made the team and signed a contract for a year. All the gals were new to the team, except Linda Yearby and Joan Rupp. We trained for two solid months. I was so happy to get on the road. I was one of the taller gals, so got to play center or forward. I liked the center position the best, as I could get my left hook off easier in that position.

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I got to do part time driving for the team. I was doing three things I loved to do drive, play basketball and travel.


The fall of 1960 the Texas Cowgirls were sent overseas to play in Spain and Morocco for the Department of the Army. Them over Christmas and New Years the team went to Alaska for 15 days. I have lots of memories from those two trips. We played our servicemen on their Bases. We even got to ride on a dog sled to return to our plane. That was when we played at Northeast Cape 18 miles from the Russian border. To make a gym for us to play they had to make room in he hanger, pushing back the planes, helicopters, and fire engines. The audience had to sit on all that to watch the game. We had a huge helicopter for our dressing room.

 

The more games we had the better I liked it, especially the double headers, sometimes traveling all night to get to the next game. Being one of the drivers I got more them my share of speeding tickets. I never had to pay them, but the minute I started living in Minnesota and transferred my license from North Dakota to Minnesota I had to many tickets! After I told them that I was doing part time driving for the Texas Cowgirls they let me go and dropped all the tickets.


Dempsey usually booked games in our hometowns once every year. It was fun playing against guys I had played with growing up. The whole team would stay at my Mom and Dads. We had to get the cows milked before we went to our game.


Harlean Hudson, Elvera Neuman, Bernice Holladay and myself had a little reunion last February in Las Vegas. Three of us had stayed in contact over the years and after finding Harlean we planned a get together. We had not seen Harlean Hudson for 42 years. We had a great time reminiscing about when we meet Wilt Chamberlain and other great players, as we traveled across the country.

I thank God for the opportunity to play the game I love and travel across our great country meeting famous people and having lots of wonderful experiences alone the way.


After I retired Dempsey would call me and want me to join the team for a weekend, if they were playing in my area, for which, I gladly did. I worked for Control Data after retiring and remembered when George Mikan came through the plant. My boss knew I had played ball, so he brought George Mikan over to me so I could meet him. It couldn’t get much better then that.


Virginia Hill Butz

Harleen Hudson - Texas Cow Girls

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I started playing team basketball in the 8th grade at Milton, Iowa, a town of 500 people. 

In 1959 I graduated from high school and that year received “Honorable Mention” from the Iowa Girls Basketball Association.  I also received the “Look” Magazine commendation as being named 1 of Iowa’s top players by the sports writers of the Des Moines Register and Tribune. 

After graduation I received a letter from Dempsey Hovland, owner of the Texas CowgGirls, asking if I would like to ‘try out’ for the team.  It did not take me long to answer that letter!

When I arrived at camp, I found plenty of talented girls that also wanted to be on the team.  I did make the cut and played for 5 seasons.  A season was usually from the middle of September to the middle of May.  My second year the team toured Spain and French Morocco and Alaska for the Department of the Army.

While in the States, we traveled in a Dodge Van that had a rack on top that held our luggage.  We were allowed 2 pieces of luggage, one for personal and one for gym.

We loved having a full schedule (a game every day).  One 30-day month we had 32 game, two days with double headers. Sometimes  the next days game would be several miles away.  I remember one trip that was 701 miles for the next days game, and it was a snowstorm!  We did make it to the game and played with only a couple of hours of sleep.

Our routine  was to come on court to the music of “Orange Blossom Special” and be wearing western hats, vests and guns.  Then we would go into a “circle” and do ball handling to the music of “The Happy Whistler”.

I feel that basketball has done more for me then I did for basketball.  I was provided with the opportunity to do what I loved and see the world and meet many wonderful people.  I am also grateful that God favored me with any ability that I did have and the experiences that went with that chapter of history.

Harlean Hudson Hansen can be contacted at www.timelymessages.com

Bernice Holladay - Texas Cowgirls 1962
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Bernice Holladay Shafer

Texas Cowgirls:  1962-1965

I was raised on a small dairy farm near Walkerville, Michigan and grew up loving all sports.  When I went to gym the coach asked me if I wanted to play forward or guard on the basketball team.  Never seeing or playing a game, I asked an older girl what position she played.  Suddenly, the coach threw me the basketball and I literally took the basketball and tucked it under my arm and ran towards the basket- that’s all I knew about basketball.

When I was a senior, I never even realized there were woman’s basketball Professional teams!  The Texas Cowgirls came to neighboring town and I had the privilege of seeing them play.  My coach has talked to the team captain, Linda Yearby about me and a couple of weeks later I received a letter from Dempsey Hoveland, the owner, asking me to travel with the gals for 1 week.  One scared, bashful, little country girl traveling with those girls- WOW, were they good or what!  That same week I’d made up my mind that I was going to travel and become a Texas Cowgirl too.  Up until then, I always thought I was going to become a Policewoman!  My parent’s finally told me I could go to training camp, but had to come home at spring time to help them farm.  Deal or no deal, I was headed for training camp at South Beloit, Ill. Ready to travel and play too!

Washington DC, New York City, west to Montana, the Indian Reservations, Dakota’s, Georgia, Kansas, south eastern states, we hit 36 states and 7 provinces of Canada.  We traveled with and played preliminary games to Harlem Globe Trotters, Men’s Pro teams like the 76ers, Lakers, etc.  We played all men’s teams, men’s rules and averaged around 230-250 games per season and traveling approximately 36,000-40,000 miles per year.  We had a pretty good record, wining about 80% of our games.  What a life!

I thank the Lord and Savior for my ability and privilege of playing and for the friendships that developed with all the players and other farm gals on the team.

The travel, friendships and experiences were awesome, but I eventually came back to Michigan and married my friend, my husband Jerry, of 42 years!

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Video of Martha and her life story - great video!

Martha Carswell - Indianapolis Pink Panthers (1974)
 
 
I was born in Homerville, Georgia in 1949.  I think I acquired a basketball shortly after that. I remember having about a 5-foot goal to shoot at and then my Dad went all out and built me a full court with clay.

We used to meet everyday after school and choose up teams.  I was usually the only girl and we would play until we had to go in for homework and supper.

I was in the 2nd grade when I played on my first organized team in the “Old Barn” as we called it.  I remember how proud I was to have my first uniform.  We got a white T-shirt and they (coaches) gave us an iron on number.  I can remember may Mama ironing on my number “2”.  I put on the T-shirt and I was magic, I could do anything.

We would meet on Saturday mornings and play.  My coach happened to be Jolene Ammons who was a great star for the All American Red Heads ended up being my coach for the “Pink Panthers”.  She was my first coach and last coach “the basketball does go around”.

I lived basketball!   That’s what you did in Homerville, Georgia in the 1950s-60s.  I played through my Junior High School and made the varsity my freshman year in high school.

Basketball was very competitive in Georgia and we had some great teams.  I just always wanted our team to be better and the girls have more opportunities.  I won “The Most Improved Trophy” my junior year.  My senior year I won “Most Outstanding Forward” and “Best Free Throw Shooter”.   My senior class also voted me “Most Athletic”.

I never knew I had a chance to play in college so my dream was to come back to “Clinch County” and coach girls’ basketball.  I said “A girl will never have to ask me to practice” or  “We will never be denied gym time”.  We had a sign up in the “Old Barn” that said “CONSTANT PRACTICE OFTEN EXCELS TALENT”.  I still live by that motto that hung behind the backboard until the Old Barn was torn down.

I went to Georgia Southern University and majored in health and physical education.  I played on intramural basketball teams because Title IX had not gone into effect yet.  I graduated college and here came Title IX, the greatest thing to ever happen to women’s sports!  Thanks to people like Billie-Jean King.

I finished my BS degree at Georgia Southern University in 1972 and started coaching basketball.

I was home in Georgia for the summer of 1974 and Jolene Ammons was also home. We were friends and always enjoyed talking about basketball.  She mentioned me about this new women’s league that was forming and she was going to be a part of it and coach. 

She asked me if I would like to come out to Phoenix and ‘try out’.  I almost fainted.  My dream to get the chance to play on a pro basketball team was an actual possibility.

I went to Phoenix and worked harder than I had at anything to be able to play with some of the exceptional talent we had on the team.

I made the team and it was a dream come true as we played our first games in Phoenix Arizona.  We also went to see a Virginia Slims Tennis Tournament while in Phoenix.  I had been determined to meet Billie-Jean King.  I played club tennis in college and Billie-Jean was quite an inspiration for women’s sports.

I saw her walking and ran after her and introduced myself and told her I was with the “Pink Panthers”.  She said she wanted to meet us and to do an article for her “Women’s Sports magazine.  We all got to go in her trailer after the match and talk to her.  I was so impressed.  I saw her on several occasions after that.  This included the “Superstars Competition” in Houston and on the “Virginia Slims circuit” when I was back to coaching in Homerville, Georgia.  I coached tennis and track.

While in Phoenix, we trained for several months in the same gym with the Phoenix Suns and that was very exciting.  We played in the west for awhile and then moved our headquarters to Indiana. 

We played at mostly at small towns versus men’s teams in the area.  We played most every night, traveling through New York and Canada.  We were having a lot of financial problems, and our owner said he could not support us anymore.

We all decided to take off on our town and make a go of it.  We hung in there; a team of 5 players for several months but were just unable to meet the financial needs of staying on the road.  We weren’t even getting paid at the time, we just wanted to play basketball.  We just hoped to make expenses.

I had several opportunities I would not have had otherwise.  We traveled most of the States and Canada and the edge of Mexico.  I got to go to the first “Women’s Superstar Competition” in Houston.  I got to play basketball with Billie-Jean King and socialize with her and several other superstars: Cathy Rigby, Micki King, Donna Devarona (commentator for ABC).  I got to know most of the competitors and enjoyed working out with them in various sports.

The Pink Panthers was a great experience.  I would like to thank Jolene Ammons for giving me the opportunity starting from that little girl in 2nd grade wearing the no. 2 jersey, al the way to a Professional Basketball Player.

I came back to Georgia and coached all sports for several years.  I never got the basketball-coaching job in my hometown but I haven’t given up yet.  They still believe only men coach.

I left Georgia to coach at the college level which I had great success at Central Florida Community College. I also started several middle school programs in the Seminole County School system.

I became a tri-athlete and was ranked 14th in the Nation as I qualified for the World Championship Ironman Triathlon in Hawaii in 1991.  I completed this and it was another dream come true.  It took all my competitive spirit.

I am so happy that basketball and women’s sports are becoming so popular and those “little girls” won’t have to beg to practice and for a gym to play in.

I now own and operate “Wekiva Adventures” in Sanford, Fl.  I do private and group tours on kayak rentals on the Wekiva River.  I provide educational tours and programs teaching environmental awareness to a variety of age groups.


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