All American Red Heads 1936-1986

Player Bio's

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 Below are short bio's written by the basketball players themselves or their families.

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Peggy Lawson (Surface) 1936-40  
 
   
Born near Eufaula Ok, November 20, 1915. 
I started playing basketball on the high school team when I was in 7th grade.  When I was a junior, the district decided a basketball player could only play 4 years so I coached the Grade Girls team.

The last 6 weeks of my senior year, an independent women's basketball team in Wetumka Ok, owned by oil rich Indians, the Walkers, asked me to come and play with them in the National Tournament in Wichita Kansas. 

After my graduation I was invited by the American Business College of Des Moines, Iowa, who had seen me play in Wichita, to go to Canada with them to play a 5 game basketball series with Canada's leading team "The Edmonton Grads".  Our Wetumba coach, Boots Wadley, talked me into going and I took my first train ride.

The following year, the Walkers in Wetumka signed on the best players they could find, mostly College girls. Among them Hazel Vickers-Cone and the Dunford twins, Lera and Vera.  We traveled all over the northwest playing the number one Independent teams.  I played forward and made All American  at the Women's Basketball National AAU tournament in Wichita Kansas.  The Tulsa Steno (Stenographers) beat us in the finals The Indians got divorced and the team disbanded.

. I was invited to go to Tulsa Business College, One of the top online universities  and to play basketball with the Tulsa Steno's.  We defeated the Lions in the national tournament in Wichita and I made All American Guard.

That summer when our season was over, the Steno's went to play a series of basketball games with the Grads in Edmonton, Canada.  We traveled by car.  That was my first site of Pike's Peak.

When the Steno's disbanded that year, I stayed the summer in Tulsa to continue with Business College

That fall I was contacted by a team in Houston Texas to come there to play basketball.  Vick Cone and Helen Goodwin were there and the Red Headed Dunford twins, who were six foot tall and all the other girls I already knew. 

The team never materialized and C.M. Olson who owned men's professional teams, started corresponding with the Dunford twins about coming to Cassville, MO and organizing a women's professional basketball team, calling them the All American Red Heads.  Vera decided to get married and Lera was devastated because she would be separated from her.  So Vick and I began corresponding with Olson in Lera's name and completed the deal.  He knew nothing about it until we were all in Cassville and playing. I went home to see my folks.  From home I took the bus to Cassville arriving late at night at the Hotel Bus Station. 

I was met by Wilbur Surface and Pete Pettegrew.  Wilbur was to be our coach and Pete played on Olson's Men's team, "The Terrible Swedes".

The Red Heads played men's teams, by men's rules, playing every night for 6 months period over 4 years.  We played in every state in the United States except Florida.  Wilbur was our coach for all but one of those years.
Olson and his wife, Dayle, owned five Beauty Salons in Missouri and Arkansas and in the summer I worked as an apprentice in the Cassville shop.  After the third summer, I went to Kansas City for tests and received my operator's license.

On April 17th, 1940 we sailed for the Philippine Islands.  We lived there and played men's teams until August of that year.  I had arrived in Long Beach, California on august 29th, 1940.  Wilbur had been working in a filling station in Hollywood Ca.  He met the boat and we went to Yuma, Arizona and were married August 31st.

We lived in Hollywood, then later moved to Santa Monica where I worked as a dental assistant did and Wilbur worked in a machine shop.  Then Wilbur got a job as a security guard in the San Pedro shipyards.  In 1942 we moved to Lomita Ca where Carol Ann was born, Jan 16, 1943.  Mary Kay was born June 30, 1945 in Torrence Ca. 

In 1946 we came to Oklahoma on vacation and decided to move to the Surface farm.
 

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Kay Kirkpatrick standing next to Red Heads bus

Kay Kirkpatrick 1936-1940 
 
    
Katherine (Kay) Kirkpatrick played basketball for Holt's Sporting Goods Store in Waco, Texas for two seasons (1934 & 1935) while attending Baylor University. During the state playoffs in the 1935 season, she was selected as an All American from the state of Texas.

In putting the first womens professional basketball team together, Mr. Olson, interviewed Kay as a possible candidate for that first team. When he returned to Cassville, Missouri, he began contacting the women he had interviewed in various states for that first team. All the first women selected had been named All Americans in their home states.

When he first contacted Kay, she was unsure about joining. Her parents wanted her to finish school before she made any decisions about playing women's basketball. Mr. Olson informed his associates that he wanted the girl from Texas on his team so they contacted her a second time and Kay decided to go ahead and begin playing basketball. She packed her bags on Christmas Eve, 1936 and became a part of that first professional women's basketball team.

Mr. Olsons drawing card was the fact that his womens team played against all mens basketball teams. There were always good crowds who came to see the women pitted against the men. The entire time that Kay played basketball from 1936 through 1940; the team won 80% of their games. Since they were playing against men, this was quite a feat in itself.

The team traveled in a team bus to all its games in the continental US. During the entire time of Kays time with the team, the team members coordinated the game; there was no coach.  None of the original team members of Olsens All American Redheads had natural red hair. All the girls used henna to color their hair.

During the basketball season, the team played one game per night and often played double-headers. The team worked approximately 6 months out of the year and before each season began, they would get together and practice for usually about 1 week before hitting the road. Kay was consistently the highest scorer on the team and she seldom missed a free throw.

During those first four years, the team played games throughout the 48 states and Alaska and Hawaii before they became states. They also played in Canada and Mexico. The team was playing inter-island games (many on dirt courts in the out of doors) in the Philippines in 1940 when the US State Department issued a warning for all US citizens to leave the islands as quickly as possible due to the problems they were anticipating from the Japanese.  The Redheads Philippine sponsor got the girls out of the Philippines on a cattle boat with a minesweeper leading the way.

When Kay returned to the U.S, after her experience in the Philippines, she decided to retire from playing basketball
 

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Vinia Hobbs (Poe) Poe 1938-1941

Vinia Hobbs had the great fortune for playing for one of the most prestigious coaches in the history of women’s Basketball, Bertha Teague at Byng High School in Ada Oklahoma.  She started at Byng in the 8th grade.

 

Vinia was one of the players that was on Teagues team during its 98 consectutive game winning streak between 1936 and 1939.  During that time, it was not unheard of for Vinia to score 15 or more points in a game and in 1938 scored an amazing 518 points and was named All State.

 

It was during this time that Ole Olson would go to watch the Byng school team and became impressed with Vinia’s play. Bertha Teague was known to recommended her better players to Olson to join his traveling teams, so that the girls could continue to play basketball and become professionals and get paid for doing so.

 

In the fall of 38, Vinia joined the Ozark Hill Billies.  The Hill Billies were the farm team to the All American Red Heads. 

 

Some of Vinia’s high school teammates would also go to play for the Hill Billies and Red Heads.  Nora Moncrief and Lorene Daniels, would also travel the countryside.

 

In January of 1940, the Hill Billies would take on their big sister club, the Red Heads.  Despite being considered the little sister, Vinia and the Hill Billies gave the Red Heads a run for their money, losing by a scant 2 points in a second overtime.

 

In the fall of 1940, Vinia would be promoted up to the Red Heads squad, along with teammate since school days, Lorene Daniels.

 

Vinia would continue to play until the end of the 1940-41 season.

 

Vinia lives in Wyoming close to her family. She is now  91 years and enjoys watching  her favorite basketball team, Duke play each year.

 

 

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Helen Onson 1938-39   

Helen Onson was born in 1915 in Two Harbors, MN.  Her father was a logger, and her mother was a cook at the logging camp.   She moved to Rhinelander, WI. at age 4.  She was the youngest of 5 children.  

 

She played basketball, and was the only cheerleader
in high school - graduating in 1933.   She worked in a clothing store after
high school, and began working at the Oneida County court house - always
staying active in women's sports.  

 

In 1937, Grover Cleveland Alexander's "Stars of the World" played at the Memorial Building in Rhinelander.  A player was injured, and Helen Onson was asked to join the team in Chippewa Falls, WI.  

 

Her family discouraged this.  They would not even lend her money
for train fare, or meals.  My mother lent her money for train fare for the
100 mile trip.  When at the train station in Chippewa Falls, she found a
quarter under the bench, and had money for her first meal with the team.
They played a double header in Chippewa Falls in the afternoon, and
Mondovi
Wi. in the evening. Grover Cleveland Alexander's team was booked
by Abe Saperstein, owner of the Harlem Globetrotters out of Springfield, Il.

 

During 1938,  Helen Onson also played for Helen Stephens Olympic Coeds-
another team booked by Saperstein.  Both teams had to perform all of the
acts of the Globetrotters.  Helen Stephens won the 100 meter event in the
1936 Berlin Olympics.  Alexander was a well known baseball pitcher from the
1920s - received the Cy Young award in 1938.    Helen Onson traveled the
United States and Canada with these teams and developed lifelong friendships
with Abe Saperstein until his death in 1966, and Helen Stephens who died in
1994.              

 

Helen Onson joined the Ozark Hillbillies in 1938-1939.  At times, while on the Hillbillies, she filled in on C.M. Olson's Redheads team.   Her team was forced to come off the road in 1940 due to gas rationing.  She returned to her home town, and worked in various capacities at the Oneida County Courthouse until her retirement in 1984.  Helen filled in for the Redheads when they were in Wisconsin.  She would leave her job,
and travel with the team for a week or so at a time through WI. and the
upper peninsula of Mi. - until late 1947.      

 

 Helen continued to be active in local sports:  basketball, baseball, archery, tennis, golf,
bowling.  She instructed young people in all of these areas.     Helen kept
in touch with a few players from the late 30's. and located three more in
the early 1980s with the help of Bertha Frank Teague.     Helen kept
detailed records of her travels - photos, logs of expenses, play posters,
hotel information, etc.   Helen Onson's papers have been merged with the
Helen Stephens papers at the University of Mo. - Columbia, and can be viewed
at http://whmc.umsystem.edu/invent/3552.html.                        

 

A couple of Helen's favorite stories:        

 

The " Coeds" played during a snowstorm in Crow Agency, Montana.  A large potbelly stove was in the middle of the floor of the court, and the teams had to play around it.
Hedley British Columbia-   During the game, a large landslide dislodged a
rock that crushed a nearby mine cabin with a miner and his girl friend in
the cabin.    Canada-   The Coed's driver, Ham Olive, paid off provincial
police so that the team could play on Sunday (this was against the law)
Minneapolis.  The team raised $1000 for charity - the " Minnesota Milk
game"  - The coed's photo was on a Wheaties box, but they couldn't take any
cereal, as they had no room in the car.   Colorado-  The team stopped at a
restaurant, and the owner threw them out, as he was afraid of them - "
didn't want any trouble"  -   All games:  They played against men's team, so
they would try to recruit a local woman athlete, and would recruit her for
the game, and " make her look good" against the men who they played.

Helen ( never married), did not brag about herself, only saying that she was
a little guard, but she would wink and say, but I averaged 22 points a
night.        Helen Onson passed away Dec. 17, 2002 at the age of 87.    
Information provided by Bob Knutson - nephew.

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Lorene "Danny" Daniels Wilkes   1938-50 

Lorene Daniels was born in Byng (Ada) Oklahoma, June 1st, 1918.  She spent her childhood working on the family farm picking cotton and peanuts, milking cows, and feeding chickens when not in school.  She was privileged to play basketball under Bertha Frank Teague at Byng High School, a great girls' basketball coach and mentor for many years there.  Mrs. Teague (who has been inducted into the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame) recommended Lorene to Ole Olson, coach of the Ozark Hillbillies. 
         

The Ozark Hillbillies were the farm team to the All American Red Heads.  In the fall of 1938, Lorene and her high school friends Vinia Hobbs and Nora Moncrief left home to tour with the Hillbillies.

In the fall of 1940, Lorene and Vinia were promoted to the Red Heads team, touring until play was suspended during WWII.  Wartime brought many women into the workforce to support the military.  Lorene worked at an ammunition plant in Arkansas and then as an airplane riveter in Texas as well as Kansas.  

After the war was over, Lorene resumed play with the Red Heads from fall of 1945 through spring of 1950.  She was team captain - being called "Mom" by her teammates and nicknamed "Danny" by the team and fans.  Danny Daniels hung up her basketball shoes and stayed with teammate "Red" Mason's mother for a year while Red was still on the road.  Red says that Danny had a beautiful long shot - but she only got 2 points for it then - and now they're worth 3!

Avid sports fan Glenn L. Martin, president of an aviation company, heard of Lorene and recruited her to work for his company in Essex, MD. Together, they would develop a company women's basketball team, the Bomberettes, in 1951.  While in Baltimore, she met fellow Martin worker Lester Wilkes,  married in 1955,  and had daughter Cindy in 1957.

Another achievement was working with Lester on a book about women's basketball for Bertha Teague: Basketball for Girls, copyrighted in 1962. 

Lorene cherished her memories of playing basketball, travelling with the teams and the friendships that were formed.  After falling ill to cancer in 1970, she kept in touch with many of the Red Heads by letter and passed away on May 31st, 1971, at the age of 52.

Information submitted by daughter Cindy Wilkes Thoren, 6/21/2012.

 
 Nora Muncrief - Ozark Hill Billies 1939-1941  
In 1939 Nora Muncrief (now Isaacs) would graduate from Byng High School in Oklahoma and sign a deal to travel the Country with C.E. Olson's Ozark Hill Billies from 1939-1941.

Nora would travel through 38 states in a single season, that would start on November 6th and end in April.  They would play everynight and unday.
During the 38-39 season, the team would play 150 mens teams (according to Olson). Some nights they would play the same team twice.  During this time Nora would be paid $80.00 a month.

One night they even played Olson's other famous team, The All-American Red Heads in Shawnee.  The Hill Billies lost by 2 points.

Nora also had a sister named Dora that also played basketball.  Dora wanted Nora to play with her down in Galveston, but Nora had a 2 year contract with Olson.  After the 2 years was over, Nora got married and retired from professional basketball.

Prior to her years as a HillBillie, Nora would play basketball Hall of Famer, Bertha Teague  from 1936-39 when they would win the state championships.
Nora had the opportunity to play for the women's coach that over 4 decades she was an astounding 1,157-115.  This included 27 consecutive undefeated seasons in league play. 

During this time Nora would be an All-state forward as Byng would win 98 games in a row.

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Gene Love 1939-1950

My mother was a small town girl from Louisiana. She was the oldest child of 4--2 boys and a sister. Her life wasn’t easy in rural Louisiana prior to and during the Depression, but they had a good life. She had stories of riding a horse to town to stay with her grand parents on Sunday so she could go to school during the week. The kids would steal apples and get sick, --go fishing. The usual rural life.

Her family has always been tall. All of the men were 6”4’ or more. And she inherited that trait being 6 foot 4 inches herself. In addition her sister, daughter, cousins , etc.--are almost all considered tall--many topping 6 feet--including the females.


She played basketball at Olla-Standard high school, Although they had an indoor gym--many of their games and practice sessions were played on outdoor courts. After graduating from high school, she received a scholarship to Southwest Junior college in Summit Mississippi--where she continued to excel in basketball. In the two years she attended show scored more than 500 points and lettered in basketball.


It was during school in Mississippi that she and her room mate saw the ads for a traveling women’s basketball team--the All American Redheads--playing near Summit. They couldn’t afford to go to the game, but thought traveling and playing basketball sounded great. So they wrote to the coach--CM Olson and requested opportunity to try out for the team.


Much to their surprise, Olson , showed up and was impressed enough that he asked to accompany Mom back to Olla to ask her daddy if she could become a member of the All American Red Heads. They went into Monroe to get a picture of mom in the Red Head uniform--A picture of her palming a basketball in each hand is her first publicity shot taken. Olson later sent money for her to travel to Cassville, and join the team. And thus a career began.


Olson’s wife owned a string of beauty shops--so she gave henna jobs to mom and the six other team members--they were after all, the all American Red Heads.


She began traveling with the other team mates through out the US. Their schedule was grueling. They traveled and played night and Sunday afternoon for roughly 6 months a year. Each of the 7 team members carried only one suitcase, a makeup kit and a uniform bag. They and the male driver traveled in a stretch limousine.--staying in hotels every night. Their salaries started at $250 a month each and went as high as $1000 a month--good pay for the time. They also received a food allowance.


They played every night against men’s teams, using men’s full-court rules. At the time women’s rules provided for 3 guards and 3 forwards, and no one could cross the center court line. Women could dribble only once before passing or shooting.


They incorporated fun into their games much like the Harlem Globetrotters do today. My mom’s name was Genevieve Love--and she hated the name Genevieve so went by Gene.-Gene Love. And the song “Careless Love” was a popular tune of the time. And thus was born “Careless Love”.


At each game, she learned something beforehand about their opponents, which later was parlayed into something funny. And with the tune Careless Love playing in the background, she’d always have a word with each referee--and any short balding ref always got a kiss, with an overload of red lipstick, on his bald head. The opposite center often received a kiss on the cheek or forehead--much to the delight of the audience. It was also not unusual for her to take the opposing center by the hand and lead him to the water cooler--all the while the rest of her team had the men scrambling.

Another favorite stunt was for “Stubby” Winters, another Red Head team-mate--although a relatively short one--to dribble the ball thru the legs of mom. The men chasing Stubby were stopped in their tracks. Another famous stunt had Stubby jumping on the back of careless love and sending the ball sailing thru the basket. The audience loved it all--and despite all the high jinks--they usually won more than 70% of their games.


Between games their lives were pretty mundane. They’d check into a hotel, maybe do laundry, shampoo--or apply henna--or go sightseeing, shopping or eating out. Or maybe the movies. They were often joined by members of the opposing teams on their outings.


But they saw a lot of the United States. They once played the preliminary game for the Boston Celtics professional basketball team. And they saw a men’s professional basketball game at Madison Square Garden in NY city. Mom was excited to be in NYC and was able to get tickets to a hockey game. The first and only hockey game she ever saw in person. Not that she really saw much--in the first 5 minutes of the game, one of the players was slammed into the glass and blood pouring, was knocked cold right in front of mom’s seat. She left--never did know who won.


They visited Niagara Falls on both the US and Canadian sides, crossed Lake Michigan on a ferry while ice chunks floated by. She was fascinated by the ice fishing on the frozen lakes of Minnesota. Amazingly in her eyes--since it was a little different from how they fished in Louisiana--the fishermen would usually pull up good size fish.


She was proud to say she’d been to every state that was part of the US at the time ( prior 1959) except Maine. She was able to see the presidents on Mount Rushmore in So Dakota--went into Mexico at four different times at four different places. She saw Lena Horne perform in Las Vegas (Lena recorded Careless Love) She saw the footprints and handprints of the stars in concrete at Grauman’s Chinese theater in Hollywood and she got hugged by Bob Hope. A friend of hers was a friend of Bob’s brother--and they were able to get passes into the studio were Hope, Bing Crosby and Dorothy Lamour were filming scenes for Road Rio (released in 1947.) Although she had a great time--she never would really watch movies after that--saying she had seen how they were made and it had ruined the magic for her.


Once they were in Portland, Ore, and the lights went off in their part of the city. Since they couldn’t play, they went down the road to see the Sons of the Pioneers performing. Then took a ferry across Puget Sound into Vancouver, BC to sightsee. They fed seagulls by throwing pieces of bread into the air.


She never said too much about it--but Sunday, Dec 7, 1941 they were in Indiana playing a game and noticed that somewhere in the middle of it people starting getting up and leaving and their was a lot of talking. Of course Pearl Harbor interrupted the game that night. The Red Heads would come off the road during World War 2. She returned to Louisiana and worked in the bus station and later for Georgia Pacific RR, in Monroe and in LR. They resumed playing in the fall of 1945--and she continued to play until Spring 1949.


She always felt fortunate to have been able to play basketball for pay, something that was not generally available to women in those days, in any type of sport. She was really proud to see the Women’s National Basketball Association development and the opportunities for women in other areas of sports today.

 
Marvelee Jo Darrow 1938-1941


Marvelee Jo Darrow was born on June 06, 1921 at Vinson; {Harmon County }Okla. She was born and raised a Cotton Farmer's daughter; the late Early and Mae Darrow.
She was one of a family of 6  children and during the great depression.

Needless to Say that times were hard, so she along with the rest of the family worked very hard And long hours on the farm, but her parents always seen that the children did their home work.

Jo was an exceptionally good student and an outstanding athelete.

She held the record in Harmon Co for throwing a softball the greatest distance.  During her time, there wasn't any sports other than basketball that lady's could enjoy.

Jo set herself a goal and that was to be one of the greatest woman basketball players who ever played the game.  During her time in school, Vinson, she set the standard for women,s sports for several years.

After graduating from high school, she enrolled and attended Mangum, Ok. Jr. College. 

During her short stay at Mangum, she was contacted by a representative of the famous Ozark Hill Billies Basketball team. 
Her dad would not give in to her going off and playing ball and not getting her education.

She promised everything, but just let me Go. I promise I will finish school After several days, it is believed that her mother stepped in and made a decision that Jo was gona go play ball.

Everyone of this small town was so excited, because this was such an honor for someone from this small community to enjoy.  After about one year she joined the All American Red Heads Professional Basketball team.

They were all women, playing all men's teams in 46 of the then 48 states.


When entering the court for introduction before the game, Jo led the team, onto the court spinning a basketball in each hand. She continued playing for the Red Heads for 6 years before entering college.

She fulfilled her promise to her daddy that she would get her education. She enrolled In college at Central State College, Edmond, Ok. Jo won several awards while attending Central State College.


It was so sad that her family did not have the chance to see Jo play very many games as money was tight and the distance was so great that it was nearly impossible.

After completing college, her first teaching job was at Captial Hill Schools and after several years, she moved to Lubbock, Tex, where she taught and coached.  She later elected to teach at Brownfield, Tex Schools and to coach the Boys Highschool Golf Team. She was well recognized as a female, but coaching Men,s High school golf.

Jo Darrow was an outstanding golfer, won many, many trophies and became very famous, nation wide for her skills in golf. She retired from her teaching profession at Austin but continued to be very active
in sports.

After finishing college, she married Edward Allen Hickman Jr of Okla. City. In later Years, she gave birth to their one and only child, Edward Allen Hickman, 3rd.

Edward passed away several years ago. Her son, Allen is employed by Dow Chemical.

Marvelee Jo Darrow was taught and believed very strongly in the simple things of life:

High morals, living a christian life, getting along with fellow man, self motivation, beleiving in yourself.

She was taught by her parents that you can do anything you think you are big enough to do and she believed and demonstrated that in her life
time.

Jo set a very high standard for all female atheletes to follow and how to be successful Marvelee Jo Darrow was inducted into the Women's Oklahoma Hall of Fame when Mr. Hall was the Governer and he presented her with the well deserving award.

Around the year of 2000 she was ask to attend a banquet in Tenn. Where the home of the National Women's Basketball Hall of Fame is stationed.   She was unable to attend because of her failing health.

It is such an honor to have such a great person to come from Vinson, the state of Oklahoma and this United States. 

Jo passed away on July 7th 2003.

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Evelyn "Toby" McGee sitting on bus next to Coach Turner

Evelyn Turner "Toby McGee" 1939-49

My name is Evelyn Tuner but my nickname is Toby and my maiden name was McGee so I played basket ball under Toby McGee.

I grew up in the sand hills of Oklahoma.  I was last of ten kids.  There was lots of love, food; second hand clothes but little money for entertainment so we had to create our own.  We nailed a hoop on the barn.  We chose up sides and played basket ball. 

Since I was the youngest and smallest I had to concentrate on developing moves.
We had basket ball in our little rural school, Ocina.  It was too small for foot ball so we concentrated on basket ball.  Students were allowed in the gym before school, recess, lunch hours and after school.  Our family rode the second bus.  This meant the bus would take one load of children home then come back for the second load.  I spent my hours waiting for the bus on the basket ball court.

By the time I was a freshman I was six feet tall.  I had developed some talent so I made forward on the varsity team.  We played three-division court, forward, center and guard.  The school did not furnish girl suits so the mothers bought black satin material and made the suits.  I got my first pair of real basketball shoes at this time.  The schools in the district played each others.  The winners of each district were invited to the state tournament.

I was a junior in 1939 when I went to live in Ozark to live with play in Ozark High School, where my brother taught.  My coach here had me develop a right and left hook shot.  The coach gave me the key to the gym so I practiced up to three hours every day.  I had grown to 6’1” and had become and outstanding player.

My senior year of 1940 I moved back to Ocina.  The rules for games had been changed to half court play with only forwards and guards.  We had an outstanding team. 

During this year, I was recruited to play for “The All-American Red Heads” This was a women’s professional team who played men’s teams, using men’s rules.  The team was headquartered in Cassville Mo and was owned by Olie Olson.  His wife, Doyle, had a beauty shop so she put henna on our hair to make us all red heads.

Each player was allowed a cosmetic bag, a regular bag and our uniform bag. When we traveled the bags were carried on a tack on the top of the bus.  We played every night of the week and sometimes twice on Sundays or holidays.  We usually stayed in the town where we played then traveled to our next game the following day. 

Each night after the game, the coach gave us a departure time for the next morning.  It was up to each player to be in the hotel lobby with your bags and ready to leave on time. 
I have played in every state of the union except for Hawaii and Alaska. 

I played with girls from Oklahoma, Arkansas, Texas, Iowa, Illinois, Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama and Colorado.

During the Second World War, the team disbanded because we couldn’t get gas or tires.  Boeing Aircraft Company in Wichita Kansas offered me a job and the opportunity to play on the “Boeing Bombshells”.  We played to entertain the troops on the bases.  The company built a B29 bomber and christened it the “The Boeing Bombshell” after our team.  During this time the team played women’s amateur tournaments in Saint Joseph Missouri.

After the War, the team was reunited in 1946.  We had a new manager/coach that year.  His name was Wilson Turner.  He had played on one of Olson’s men’s teams.  During the season, Wilson and I fell in love.  We married after the season ended and made our home in Cassville, Mo. 

We lived about a mile from Doyle and Olie.  They were guests in our house many times.
Over the years, I have played ball with All Americans Hazel Reynolds, Corene Smith and Hazel Walker. 

I was an All American twice.  I played with Ruth Haines and Danny Daniels who played for Bertha Teague in Ada Oklahoma.  Their teams won the Oklahoma State tournament more than any other team.  During Ms. Teagues coaching years, she had more wins than any other coach in the nation, men or women.  John Wooden, UCLA’s coach was runner-up to her.  She is now in the Oklahoma City Hall of Fame and Women’s basketball Hall of Fame in Knoxville, TN.

My basket ball days were wonderful.  It allowed me to travel, lean to live and work with coaches and eight other girls from different states.  It made me become a responsible adult and work as a team under directions.  It gave me recognition and allowed me to make a significant contribution to the history of women’s basket ball.

I will always be grateful to Olie Olson who had the vision to create this team and promote women’s basket ball in “The Red Heads”.  It was, and is, a special elite group.
                                                                 “Toby McGee”
         Evelyn Turner
 

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Dr. Willa Faye "Red" Mason 1948-56

Red was an Arkansas All-State high school player in 1946 and 1947 from Siloam Springs, Arkansas.  The 2 State Tournaments were held in Paragould, Arkansas and Marianna, Arkansas.  They went to the finals both years and she was selected to the All-State team both years.  The rules played at that time was the six-player game 3 offensive and 3 defensive players and the half-court game.

C.M. Olson, owner of the All American Red Heads, scouted Mason and her basketball playing and her love for the game landed her on the Red Heads team.  She played 7 seasons with the Red Heads, traveling and playing the men's full-court game.  The Red Heads were fund raisers for Civic Clubs like the Kiwanis, VFW and American Legion.  They traveled and played in towns from cost to coast 6-7 months per season.  The last 2 seasons she was player/coach.  

Red was known as the "Red Skelton" of the courts.  The memories she holds in her heart of the Red Heads are insurmountable. 

A few of the many experiences she had playing for the profressional team was being on the first team to play and introduce women's basketball in the now State of Alaska (1959). She was also invited to appear on the Tommy Bartlett "Welcome Travelers" radio show and Don McNiels "Breakfast Club", both in Chicago.

Red played in every state in the U.S. at the time and games in Canada, Alaska and Mexico.

After her Red Head days, Red turned to eduction where she taught health and physical eduction.  Eventually earning her doctorite from the University of Arkansas in 1979.

Red now enjoys golf and is very dedicated to her church.  She loves to travel and remains devoted to basketball and the eduction of the All American Red Heads to others.  She is amazes and excited about the current number of women participating and excelling in basketball and women's sports 

 

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Dody Petersen (Dolores Clack) 1950-1953
Born on February 24, 1932 and lived her early years in Fisher Minnesota.  Basketball was probably the most exciting thing that happened in the towns of Norhtern Minnesota.  75% of the towns population would show up at these games.  Dorlores would shoot baskets every chance she got from shooting them through a rim on the side of a barn in the snow banks to lunch hours at the gym when the boys weren’t using it.

In her senior year, the All American Red Heads came to play in Erksine.  The girls team got to play in a preliminary game, prior to the men’s team playing the Red Heads.  After the girls game, the coach, Orwell Moore went up to her and asked if she ever thought of playing basketball and gave her the address of the owner of the team.

About 10 days later, a red white and blue edged envelope showed up in the mail box inviting her to join the team the following October.

7 players would be on the team, including the coaches wife, Lorene as the team would travel to all 48 states during the 1952-3 season. 

She would travel around the country in a DeSoto station wagon, playing games every day, with two on Sunday.  The only exception was Christmas Day.

Her teammates would call her Dody as they played against men’s teams wearing green uniforms, highlighted in white, to contrast their red hair.  Being the shortest member on the team at 5’7, she would also be involved in the piggy-back trick by getting on the shoulders of another player, catching the pass and putting the ball in off the backboard while none of the men could reach her.

Her favorite moment was when the team headed back to Erskine and they played in front of everyone she knew, family and friends.

She was also offered the opportunity to play for the famous Grand Rapids Chicks softball team.  This was the team from which the movie “A League of their Own” was based on. 

Dody played for 3 seasons before leaving the team and heading to college.  Looking back on her days with the Red Heads made her realize she could do anything she wanted if she set her mind to it.



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Jessie Banks 1954-1959

I played my first game of basketball in the fourth or fifth grade and was hooked.  I went to a consolidated school 1st through 5th grades at then Erin Springs, Okla.  We didn’t have an indoor gym, so we learned to play on a dirt court. Since it was a small school the girls and boys practiced together. I think that helped me to become the player that I was in the later years.

I started the 6th grade at Lindsay High School, Lindsay, Okla. and was there until I graduated from High School. I was one of the lucky girls during my era in that the State of Oklahoma gave girls the opportunity to play basketball. We had a regular league schedule and played in one or two tournaments. My junior and senior year we played in the state tournament. We won in our class my senior year. I made All State my junior and senior years.

During my senior year two teammates and myself went to Wayland Baptist College and tried out for a scholarship.  The very next year they would be going to the rover player and coming from a six on six-divided court defensive player none of us had a chance.

The spring of my senior year Coach Orwell Moore came to our school and wanted several of us to try out for the All American Red Heads.  We mainly just shot around doing a few free throws and lay ups. After that he invited us to one of their games in another town. A couple of us went. I was in awe to see women playing against men and winning. After the game we were invited into the locker room to meet the team. Again I was in awe. They were so friendly and they took time to talk to us.  Two of those really stood out in my mind.  Loraine “Butch” Moore and Willa Fay “Red Mason.

Coach Moore told us that he would be in touch.   My senior year I lived with my aunt and uncle so I could continue playing at Lindsay High. My mom and dad had moved to Arkansas because of my dad’s job. After I graduated from Lindsay I went to Arkansas to live with them.  It was while I was there that Coach Moore called me and asked if I wanted to play for the Red Heads. I didn’t ever stutter and said yes. He then came to our house, brought a suit and we went to a studio and had my picture made.  After he returned home he sent me a contract and of course I signed it.

We were later told where to meet for a two week training session before our season begin. I thought I was in good shape but I can’t remember being so sore that I could hardly get out of bed. We had three practices a day at least two hours each. I sure learned a lot about playing against men. Also, had to learn to play with a whole different group of players. Soreness and all I sure did enjoy it and was ready to go on the road with the All American Red Heads.

I was one of those players that didn’t sleep much while traveling.  I was getting paid to play basketball and seeing the United States was an added bonus. Even though we played every night for six months out of the year I never got tired of playing. I continued playing for a total of five years. During that time I played with some awesome players. We got to know each other so well that we could pass the ball to an open space and a teammate would be there. Even though I only played for five years once a Red Head always a Red Head. I kept up with them and when a team came close to where I lived I always went to see them.

I not only learned the game of full court basketball, my technique of shooting, dribbling, passing and defense became very sharp. I believe what I learned about the game of basketball from the Red Heads made me decide that coaching was what I wanted to do as a career. That was one reason I decided to quite and go to college.  I have had a great life and playing with the All American Red Heads will always be the high light.

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SHIRLEY “TROOPER” HOWARD 1953-1957

 

Played four (4) years with the Red Heads…Some teammates were:  Jesse Banks; Willa Fay “Red” Mason; Katie Watson; Jackie Wrage; Fran Saunders; Lorene Moore (Coach Madris’ wife); Justine Glover; and Ella Cross

Toured Alaska ---

Played on Islands of Sitka, Cordoba, Ketchikan ---

Was on Ed Sullivan Show (his guest star that night was Red Buttons).

After retiring, I finished my college career…Graduating from Arkansas State.Began teaching and coaching career…Taught for 31 years.Ended career at Hazelwood Central High School, Florissant, MO (26 years there).  Received Masters Degree from Ole Miss and 30 hours above Masters from University of Missouri, St. Louis.

I went through the Hazelwood Citizens Police Academy and am currently volunteering for the Hazelwood Police Dept.  This is my 10th year....I find it very enjoyable and have met so many good friends there.  However, my playing days with the Red Heads was an endearing journey...so many games...so many States...so many good players!  Coach Moore wanted each of us to be the best player possible!

I had a great experience playing with the Red Heads and have so many wonderful memories

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Jackie Krutsinger 1955-56 

Jackie began her basketball career in Junior High and High School in Putnum City, Ok.  After her freshman year of college at Central State College (now the University of Centra Oklahoma) in 1956, she signed on to play with the All American Red Heads and traveled throughout much of the Western United States.

Her schedule was a game every night and 2 on Sunday as the team was on the road for 6 months.

The money Jackie earned while playing with the Red Heads helped finance her college education.  She graduated with a Bachelors Degree from CSC in 1959 and the earned a Masters Degree from University of Colorado in 1964.

As a teacher and coach, Jackies resume includes a number of prestigious high schools and universities.  Currently she is retired and serves on the Advisory Board of Community Works in Norman Oklahoma.

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Barabara (Wells) Gwinn 1956-57
I am Barbara ( Wells ) Gwinn, born in  Leachville, Arkansas..  I had two sisters Rickie ( Wells ) Gardner and Brenda ( Wells ) Simpson.  My sisters are deceased.  I have a brother Sammy Wayne Wells of Sweetwater, Tenn.  and a half brother Van Wells of Carrollton, Texas.

I played my high school basketball in Caraway, Arkansas.  Little did I know, Coach Moore was watching me play.  I had never heard of the All American Red Heads. 
In 1956 I learned that they were no longer going to have a girls basketball team in our school.   Since basketball was the only enjoyment I had a the time I chose to leave school.   A few months  later I was in the cotton field and my dad came to me and asked me if I wanted to play basketball.  Well, he didn't have to ask me twice.  He told me that he knows this man name Red Moore that has a girls basketball team that travels and wants you to play for him.  That was 51 years ago.  I met Coach Moore and Butch and signed the contract to play for the All American Red Heads on October 25th 1956.  I had just turned 17 years old.  My contract was for $150.00 a month and a $100.00 a month for meal expenses.  ( That was good money in those days ) beats chopping and picking cotton...

Coach Moore and Butch gave me some luggage and some money to buy some cloths and other things that I needed.

My Dad  William Frank Wells and my Mom Eddie Mae ( Barnes ) Wells were divorced.  My sisters, brother and I had to more or less raise ourselves.  We lived with our Dad and he worked from sun up to sun down....He was a share cropper.  And we had to help him in the fields...We worked mostly in the cotton fields....I had to go to school, work in the fields  and do the things in the house that usually the mother does. Being the oldest of the siblings, I did the best I could at cooking, cleaning the house and watching over my brother and sisters.  I'm not complaining.  It helped make me the person I am today. 
    
I'll never forget the first game I played.  It was at a school I had attended years before.  My dad and family came to see me play.  It was the 2nd game my dad ever saw me play.  Well, I made the first two points.....And then I said to myself " I can do this ".   I was so happy to be playing basketball again. 
Our team had some problems during the year.  One of the girls got hurt ( broken arm ) she had to leave the team and go home...3 of the girls were let go for one reason or another.  We got 3 new players.  Butch stepped in to help us out until we could get the team filled......We finished the season out with 5 players.  No one got any rest, I'm sure there were other teams like that.

We played almost every day and had two games on Sunday.  
After the basketball season was over I went back to Caraway and returned to school.  Did not want to be there, just was not happy, wanted to get away......So, I went to take my GED test and joined the Women's Army Corp., went to Little Rock and took my physical and signed up for the WAC's.

I went to Alabama for basic training and Clerical school.. After that I was sent to Fort Myer, Va. where I met my husband, who was also in the army, Charles Elliott Gwinn from Spartanburg, S.C.. We had over 44 years of a wonderful marriage.  Charlie passed away on June 17th, 2003.  During our Army days, we lived 2 1/2 years on Okinawa, He spent two years in Viem Nam and one year on Korea.  We lived in New Jersey, Virginia, Maryland, South Carolina, and Georgia ( twice ).

We have two children, Charles Elliott Gwinn, Jr ( 50 ) and Patricia ( Gwinn ) Smith ( 48 )  we have three granddaughters, Trina Camille Smith ( 25 ) Laura Gwinn Smith ( 23) and Amanda Lane Smith ( 22 ).  All three of my granddaughters were on a World Series winning softball team.  My son and daughter coached the team.
I am retired from Wachovia Bank......I love retired life....I am spending my retirement by playing golf, bowling on a league, playing bridge, taking line dancing lessons, and being with family and friends as much as I can.

I will never forget what Coach Moore and Butch did for me.. I thank them so much for showing me that their was a big wide wonderful world out there and it was up to me to go for it.  With their help I had the beginning of a wonderful life.

Barbara ( Wells ) Gwinn
All American Red Head 1956/57


Betty Jo (Bollinger) Simpson 1956-1957


I actually began playing basketball at the age of twelve.  The year was 1951and I was going to school in a small community with a two-room schoolhouse.  Since there wasn’t a lot of kids, the boys and girls played together.  The floor of the basketball court was hard, black dirt and most of the time we were on our own without a referee.  I think that is why I was always such a rough player.
During the 4 years I played High School basketball, I would foul out nearly every game.

Then during the 1956-7 years when I played professional basketball with the All-American Red Heads, I did get hurt. 
I was under the basket and fighting for the rebound.  As any ball player knows, that is the only time things get kinda rough.  I did end up with a broken collarbone.

Needless to say, that ended the season for me.  That fall, my doctor decided my collarbone wasn’t healing the way it was supposed to.  He operated and put a steel pin in the bones to hold them in place.  Today, at age 65, the pin is still there as well as a three-inch scar.

I was asked to play the next basketball season but refused.  I would not take any amount of money for the year I played professional basketball, or the years before. I learned how to get along with all types of people.  Also I feel I had opportunities a lot of other people have never had. 

So to any one else, I would say if that is want you want to do….Go for it!

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Shirley Beckman Cheatum 1962-63

My hometown is La Plata,Missouri. I played high school ball . I was the
tallest on my team, 6’2". After joining the Redheads, there were
players taller than me. I was working at a small "dairy queen" in La
Plata Mo when Coach Ben Overman approched me and told me about the
Redheads. I was so excited. He wanted to know if there was a basketball
court available and I told him about the open-air court that was at the
church.We went there the next day after I got off work and laced them up
and we done a mini workout and the next day I was offered a contract.
Boy was I flying high!!! When I was playing, we traveled in a station
wagon.Just think--Coach and 7 players, basketball gear and uniforns and
warmups and then your meager clothing. Talk about closeness!!!! But this
was the time of my life. Now we realize what a impact we made on women's
basketball. this is why we are referred to as "the Pioneers of Women's
Basketball". 

I played basketball with the Redheads one season 1962-63. What a whirl
wind that was. We played a few games in AR., MO. And TN; we were off to
Canada. While in Canada, played at Prince of Whales College, we were
escorted onto the court by a bag pipe band. A first for me. we even
played in Nova Scocia. You talk about a country girl going to town.
Wow!!!!

Coach Moore usually scheduled our games in the northeast before the
winters became so harsh. Putting the luggage on top of the car along
with "my turn to put the tarp" over the luggage was rough on the hands
on those cold mornings. November and December we were in a lot of snow
anyway, slowly we were heading south. We spent Christmas n Gate City,
VA. The hometown of one of the players Mickey Hendrix (deceased). We
looked forward to playing in the girl's hometowns. This means a home
cooked meal. One becomes very tired of restaurant food. It was great at
Mickey’s home; on Christmas Eve the caroler came around, we exchanged
gifts. My first Christmas away from home.

Mickey got homesick and decided to leave the trail. We really hated
going on without her.

Near the end of December we were in Cochran, Georgia. Peggy Padgett
tried out for the team; she joined us in Pineville KY. During the tour
in Ohio we played against one of the Royals Baseball team and were also
on the Mike Douglas Show. Betty White was one of the shows guest. During
this season we played and traveled in 42 states and Canada.

We were headed for sunny California! It was amazing during the season at
the large number of former Redheads attending the games. To name a few
Shirley "Trooper" Howard from MO. Jessie Banks from CO. Lee Kashmitter
(6"8") form Idaho. We did a lot of sight seeing if time allowed it.
Several times we traveled all night to make the game. Those games were
rough along with the double headers. It was a common as soon as we got
into the town we were playing; the sponsor would have personal
appearance, interviews. and not forget, the sponsors would take us out
for a meal sometimes.

I now live in Edina, Mo on a farm with my husband Bill, and I have 1 son
,2 step-sons, 3 step- daughters and a total of 10.5 grandkids.

The Redheads will live forever in my heart.

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Mickey Hendricks Childress - 1962-3

Gate City, VA.

Written by teammates Jolene and Shirley

I’m starting this off with a little story. This was both Mickey’s and my first season with the Redheads. We were sent bus ticket to report to training. I was sitting in the bus terminal in West Memphis, AR. very tired from traveling all night. I looked across the terminal and saw this very tall lady heading in my direction. She walks up to me as said you’re a Redhead; in my mind I thought this a great, I don’t have red hair yet, haven’t made it to training, don’t know any of the team and I’m already being recognized. Immediately we became friends.

We trained in Paragould, AR, and were room mates. We were total opposites, Mickey was very out going, I was very shy, and I did not want to draw any attention to me. It seems that Mickey held a state individual scoring record or it was a high school. So many years have passed it’s slipped my mind. While with the Redheads she played center and forward. She had a fabulous hotshot.

During training, I’m not sure which one of us was most sore. All of us thought we were in good shape prior to reporting, wrong!! We made it through the tough times of training and started the training games, learning the show routines and doing the half time show. We played in Mickey’s hometown on Christmas day. A tremendous amount of her family and friends were at the game.

During the grand opening of the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in Knoxville TN. Mickey played a large part in organizing the Redheads stay, it was if she was still a player. She was busy taking care of the things, scheduling interviews, setting up rooms for meetings while we were renewing old friendships.

After getting back home she took up flying, she flew in the last Powder Puff Derby. For 17+ years she was a Criminal Investigator for the Knox County District Attorney General.

Mickey had a son Scott and a daughter Traci.

As Mickey would say each time we talked, “Let’s keep this group of basketball players together. Let’s stay in touch.”  Mickey passed away Oct.20, 2000.


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 Jolene Ammons 1962-1974 
Growing up in Homerville, Georgia (small town USA) basketball played a very large part in my life. As a kid my dream was to play professional basketball, I never knew that it really existed. Then in 1962, a scout for the All American Redheads, Mr. Lurner Williams, arranged a tryout. Yes, it was a dream come true. I was an All AMERICAN REDHEAD.

During my career with the Redheads, I saw women’s basketball grow. The Redheads really helped me grow and afforded me with opportunities that would never have happened. Some of my experiences included a month stay in Alaska, seeing whales, flying in seaplanes, and panning for gold, traveling in 49 of the 50 states.

Also personal appearances, radio and television interviews. Meeting and playing other pro. athletes, meeting many famous people. While doing the basketball camp circuit, Reba McEntire, shared my room at Kennedy College, in Wahoo, NE. (She was still in high school at that time)

Often we were made honorary citizens and given keys to the city.
Coach Orwell Moore could pump me up. A lot of the games he would tell me to shoot a half court shot, there is no accuracy at that distance. I was lucky, I made alot of the half court shots. I would like to pay my respects to Lorene "Butch" Moore for all of help with fancy passing and ball handling. She was great. She inspired!!

During the 67-68 season that I was transferred to the Western unit or (rookie team). I had a real passion for fancy passing, tricks and ball handling. I went to the rookie team to help them get on tract and help them incorporate ball handling in to the game. I love doing pre-game warm-up and the half time show. The Red Heads had an opportunity to show their skills at this time.

Also, the 69-70 season the game was stopped, Coach Orwell Moore presented the game ball to me. I scored my 10,000th point. The ball is signed by the players and will be on display at exhibitions on the history of women’s basketball with other items from the Red Heads so others may experience what it was like to be on this team.


My thanks to the Moore’s, they made it possible, the coaches that helped prepare and groom me, my high school Coach Charles Bennett, my teammates, and a very special thanks to the teams that I coached. Our teams had the best balance, excellent athletes, and a passion for the game.

Below are some highlights of my career:

Played 1962 through 1974
Player/Coach last four seasons
Named All American 3rd season
Total games played 2,316
Scored over 25,000 career points
Won 1,848 games, lost 468
Nickname: Jo Jo


Personal Experiences:

Mike Douglas Show-Jan. 1963
Art Linkletter House Party-Feb. 1966
To Tell The Truth-April 1974
The only female basketball team featured on CBS 1974 NBA playoffs.

Only female basketball player mentioned in, BASKETBALL PLAYERS DO AMAZING THINGS.

Sports Illustrated-May 1974

Men’s Basketball Hall of Fame requested my uniform to be displayed-Nov 1973

The History of Women’s Basketball NBC-July 1997

The WBCA and Sears Salute to the Champion’s Brunch-March 1998

My Redhead uniform displayed: Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame-June1999
Uniform on display at Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of fame - March 2007


Other Pro. Teams we played:

Denver Broncos, S.F. 49ers,
Mn. Vikings, Cleveland Browns,
Giants Royals, and a number of GlobeTrotters.


Also meeting or playing against:

Billy Jean-King, Hank Aaron,  Joan Joyce,  O.J. Simpson,
Cathy Winthrop,  Bill Mazeroski,  Cathy Rigby,  Robin Roberts, John Brody,  Cliff Gibson,  Reba McEntire, Calvin Coats,  Billy Cowan,  Ernie Frazio, Frank Lensey,  Pete Rose,  Mickey King

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Martha Olsen 1964

My mother once said I was born too early, “if it were today you could have been recognized for your talent and ability to play sports.”

   My sport’s career started when I was very young and growing up in a neighborhood for sixty boys and thirteen girls. My earlier years in grammar school I loved playing baseball and watching the boys play Little League and wanting to play so badly but Commissioner Paul Hanson said “girls were not allowed, but if they were you would be my first choice.” So I have to play with the guy during practice and off season. During the Babe Ruth League I remember playing with some of the guys of the Maine Telegram League Champions back in the late 50’s, Hilary Mahaney, David Hanson, and Howard Jones. I had to stop thinking of playing baseball, girls were not acceptable.      

   My father’s work with H.P.Hoods Egg  we moved to Waldoboro. Both my brothers, George ’56 and Jon ’58 were well on their way in careers of management with F W Woolworth and I was entering the seventh grade. This is where I started playing basketball and softball, where the girls were very active. I spend most of my time at the field and on the court. Coach Robert Greene, of Waldoboro High School, asked if I would like to sit on the bench during the freshmen session. He saw my ability and thought I might be his upcoming star when I arrive at the high school. However again, we had to move again due to down sizing at HP Hoods Egg productions. We moved backed to Saco, where I entered Thornton Academy in 1960.       

   As most of the readers remember I was sport minded and was considered a loner/tomboy. My first two years I had two different coaches, Miss Norton and Mrs. McLaughlin  It wasn’t until Miss Vlahokas came in that really saw my abilities and helped me a lot. She was responeable for my professional basketball career with the All-American Redheads. 

 

   To my surprise, I received a letter from a former player of the Redheads, which she was the top dribbler (Jolene Ammons) and has been playing for a few years. When I arrived to base camp in Caraway, Arkansas she took me under her wings. I was so grateful for that, she taught me a lot. After being reconnected to the team members again brought back a lot of memories and thought it would be nice to reconnect to my classmates at Thornton. 

     

Martha Olsen  ‘64

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Becky Harp 1965-1969

Hello again. I'll try to make this short, but we gotta go back a long time ago.  March 25,1965 to be exact.  This is when I received a letter from Coach Orwell Moore introducing me to the All American Red Heads.  I had never heard of them before, and I certainly couldn't understand why he would be looking at me.  I had made the All-State team (and was told by officials that I would have been chosen MVP if we had not lost in the State Championships by 2 points).  But still....Professional???
 
I was about to pursue a career in Commercial Art in a college near my hometown, but I wasn't about to let this opportunity pass me by.  I had full support from my parents.  My mom gave up a career with the Sports Arena Blues basketball team (later called the Atlanta Tomboys) to follow my dad in his career as a Minor League Baseball player.  My brother was playing in a semi-pro league in the Navy, and my sister was just beginning her freshman year in basketball.
 
Well here this little Ga. girl takes off to Caraway Arkansas for an experience she would cherish for the rest of her life.
 
The very first night  we reported to training we died each others hair. Oh well, I guess I just let the secret out. There were a few natural Red Heads but I wasn't one of them.  I cried like a baby and thought to myself, I wish I had gone back to Ga. with my parents.  But I got over it and blended right in. The next few weeks were grueling.  I can still feel the pain from the workouts and sprints.  I remember one girl who had to go home for a while to get over shin-splints.
 
Then came the travel. Somewhere different everyday.  I can still hardly believe they paid me to play ball, travel all over the U.S. meet and play against some of the greatest professionals ever.  Heck, I would have paid them to let me play.
 
I still consider myself very fortunate being associated with some of the most talented female athletes this country has ever known.  Jolene Ammons who could dribble rings around any player I know and who had a trick up her sleeve while at the same time was keeping her eye on the basket. She was truly an entertainer whom I always looked up to. Charlotte Adams... you name it, she could do it. When she shot from outside, you knew it was headed for the net. She was a team player who encouraged each girl to always give that little extra.  Mary Parsons was another excellent dribbler. I enjoyed just watching her give the guys the run around when they would try and usually fail to take the ball away from her. I've got to mention Pat Overman.  A great ball handler and to me the best Commedian  the Red Heads ever had.  She loved her Pepsi Colas too.  I can still see her pulling up the refs pants leg or giving him a stiff kick in the backside as he bends over to pick up a ball she had cleverly put near her foot on purpose.
 
We had to prove ourselves many times.  Many times you could tell a men's team would not know what to expect at the beginning of a game, but it wouldn't take long before they realized they were up against some very talented and very competitive ballplayers. Before  long they would realize they were going to have to put out some effort to stay in the game.  We won their respect many many times. 
 
Thanks for the memories. I played in every state in the U.S., was on the Art Linkletter show, played against Clyde Lovellette(former NBA star), met Don Knots (Barney Fife), Red Skelton, and many others.  Saw places I would never have gotten to see.
 
I said this would be short.  I could go on and on.  I'm very proud to be one the All American Red Heads and I thank Coach Moore, Coach Jack Moore, and Coach Ben Overman for transforming this little Ga. girl wanna be into  the athlete I had become after joining the Red Heads.  Who would have thought that this little girl (who sat on the bench in the ninth
and tenth grades), would one day be in the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame?
 
And by the way. My dad was recently inducted into the Minor League Baseball Hall of Fame in Moultrie Ga.  He is 84 years old. My mom is 80.  She had to give up her basketball career but she made up for it in bowling.  She traveled with a team  to Reno Nevada when she was in her late 60's  in a bowling tournament.  She received a patch for her jacket every time she bowled a 200 game and she ran out of places to put them.  Guess it just in the genes!

 
 
 
 
 

From Pulse (Nursing Magazine)article on Becky Pritchett

 

 

 

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Delphia Allen 1965 - 66

My name is Delphia Allen.  I was born in Alma, Georgia, Bacon County on May 29, 1947.  I started playing basketball in the sixth grade where my teacher, Ms. Osteen Bland, thought I had some talent and discussed this with Coach R.T. Johnson.  He kept an eye on me and decided that I did have some talent for playing basketball.  He worked with me and by the time I was a freshman, I started every game until I graduated in 1965.  In my Junior year, we went to the championship game but lost the last game.  In my Senior year, we went all the way and won the Georgia State Championship.  From 1965 - 1966, I played for the All American Redheads and I enjoyed playing with a great group of girls.  They were Georgia and Alice Washington (sisters), Jolene Ammons, Patty Eubanks, Sue Dawson and Sharon Glen.  We traveled in twenty-seven states as far as California.  We traveled in a fifteen passenger limousine.  Out of 190 games, all against men, we won 130 games.  I was not a natural rehead.  I used Clairol and the color was "flame".
 

 

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Mary Parsons 1966-1970
I was from Maynard, Iowa, which was a small town.  It was surround by farm and corn fields.  Girls basketball was a big thing in Iowa. I started going to basketball when I was in first grade.  I started playing organized basketball in the 7th grade.  I loved basketball. I had the same basketball Coach Gene Klinge for 4 years in high school. He was very important in being the basketball player that I became.  I played  all through high school. I went to West Central High School which had a very good record every year. 

When I was about to graduate from high school. Mr. Moore sent me a letter wanting to know if I would like to play basketball for the All American Redheads. There was one sentence in the letter that really got me.  It said that the All American Redheads played basketball every day. 

I joined the All American Redheads in October of 1966.  I played for 4 years. I enjoyed it very much.  It was a job I loved.  People who have job that they love are very special.  Playing basketball was great.  I had never really been away from home.  Traveling all over the United States was great. I played on the Eastern unit every year.  I played in 32 states.  I played in over 770 games. I scored 9,970 points in the four years.  I missed 30 games my second season, because I broke a bone in my hand.

Playing with the All American Redheads you saw a lot of the United States.  I also saw Canada.  We played for all kinds of group who want to raise some money for their organization. 

Mr. Moore and his wife gave young women a place to play basketball.  For that, I will always remember what they did for young women. For three years, I was coached by Mr. Moore brother Jack. He had a lot of faith in my jump shot from 3 point range when there wasn’t one. He believed in my shooting which meant a lot to me

I played with one the best Redheads, Jolene Ammons.  She had been playing for several years and she knew how to do all the routine that we did at half time.  She would always help the ones who needed it.

Team sports are great.  You have to learn how to get along with people.  The All American Redheads played for the love of the game.  A lot of people do not play for the love of the game but for the love of the money. 

What I learned from team sports has made me a better person. It has helped me in the real world. I still love to play basketball.  Right now, 2004, I play on Senior Olympic team from Shreveport, LA, Hoopaholics.  I am still having a lot of fun with basketball.

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Charlotte Adams 1967-1977 "Passion for Basketball"
Approximately 70 miles south of Jackson, MS. is the very small community of Bogue Chitto, where I began my basketball Career. I’m Charlotte Adams and this is the story of my passion for the game and my journey from a Bogue Chitto Bobcat to an All American Red Head. 


I began playing in the eight grade under the direction of Coach Robert L. Calhoun, who was a mentor and a very strict disciplinarian who expected excellence. My teammates and I played and made several appearances at the District and State levels. As a junior, my team won district and I made All District and South Mississippi All Star Selection. My senior year, my team won district and overall state, becoming the only Bogue Chitti girls team to hold an Overall State title. I made all district, South Mississippi All-star selection and was selected to the First Annual Mississippi Girls North-South All-star team.


After graduation, I enrolled in Copiah Lincoln Junior Collage. At that time, college basketball had not been organized for girls. Several girls and I, desiring to play, organized a team and played week-ends. We finished the season with some pretty impressive results, with another team and I getting All-star and All- Tournament.


During this time, I realized I wanted to continue playing. I got a tryout with the Red Heads and made the team in 1966.Dreams do come true; therefore I left college and began my career as an All American Red Head, under the direction of Coach Jack Moore, “Little Jack” who was another strict disciplinarian.


Over the next few, my friendship with Coach Jack and his wife, Betty, grew and they became like another Father and Mother. I was honored when they named their daughter after me.


Coach Jack taught me the 4 D’s Life: Dedication, Desire, Discipline and Determination. I have used them in all areas of my life and passed them to my players as well.


During the 10 years I was a Red Heads, I traveled extensively. I went to Canada, Mexico, and every state in the union except Hawaii. I toured Alaska three times. In 1986, after retiring, I traveled to Hawaii to complete my visit to every in the union.


For a small town girl, traveling with the Red Heads was an opportunity of a lifetime. I was able to see many beautiful and interesting places and meet many influential people.


In 1977, I left the Red Heads and coached basketball at Tallulah Academy for one year. I was also assistant coach of the Mississippi All Stars.


I was interviewed and later contacted that I had the job coaching the WBL. Milwaukee does. I declined to be near Mother. Also I wasn’t sure the league would survive.


In 1978, I went to work for International Paper Company in Vicksburg, where I lived at the time. They sent me to school five years and I became Maintenance Planner and Analyst. During this time, I also played and coached softball, coached several youth basketball teams, played soccer and volleyball, and assisted in the organization of the Vicksburg Volleyball Association.


In 2006, I retired form the paper company and moved home with memories to last a lifetime. Today, I am enjoying my family, reconnecting with old friends, getting together with my Bobcat teammates, and reminiscing the dream!


I would like to extend special “Thanks” to Mr. Orwell Moore, Owner and manager of the All American Red Heads, for the opportunity to play. I am also forever grateful to Coaches Calhoun and Moore for instilling in me a work ethic that helped me throughout my life. Thank, to, to my teammates, players, and friends. All of you made the journey worthwhile.



Highlights of my career:


Played 1967 through1977

Player/coach my 7th season

Coach/Driver/Business Manager last 3 years

Scored 26,746 Career points during 7 seasons

Nickname “Sweetie”


Personal Experiences:


Governor’s Award


My No. 7 jersey and a life-sized wooden cutout-one of 3 statues of former Red Heads- on display in an exhibit honoring the team at the National Women’s  Basketball Hall of Fame in Knoxville, Tennessee.


Appeared on AM America Show


Toured with a group from 20-20


Pro Teams Played:  Boston Patriots, San Francisco 49’ers, Kansas Chiefs (the year they won the super bowl), and Washington Redskins.


Famous People Met: Hank Williams, Jr., Loretta Lynn, Crystal Gayle, Conway Twitty, Lance Alworth, Astronaut Allen shepherd, Joe Theisman, The Drifters, Bill Mazeroski, Four Seasons, Sly Family Stone, Nadia Comace, Robin Roberts, B.J. Thomas, Percy Sledge and many others.

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Debbie Smith 1967-1968

In August of 1967 I was only 17 and just finished summer school at the University of Tennessee.  I received a call from Coach Orwell Moore wanting to come and talk with me and my parents.  He had heard about me from the coaches in the area.  I was one of the leading scorers in East Tennessee.  I carried a 26 point average for 4 years and my senior year I had a 39 point average.  Colleges didn’t have collegiate teams at the time, but I had been offered several opportunities to continue playing at business schools.  One in Nashville, TN and the Flying Queens in Brownsville, TX.  Business school wasn’t interesting to me so I was open to other options.  I had never heard of the All American Red Heads, but was excited to learn I might be able to continue playing basketball. 

I wanted to be a physical education teacher and coach, but playing basketball for the Red Heads was a side trip I wanted to make.  My parents weren’t that happy about me playing, but they supported my decision to play.  I think they knew I would never have forgiven them if they hadn’t let me try.  One the decision was made, they gave their full support.  My dad and mom have said several times over the years that letting me go was one of the hardest things they had to do.
 I left for Caraway, Arkansas in October and had an adventure I would cherish for the rest of my life.  I am so grateful and blessed to have had teammates that helped this naive young girl through the first few weeks of practice.  I had never been away from home and it was hard.  Becky, Jo Jo, Mary, Charlotte, & Brenda took me under their wings and I will always be grateful.  This my opportunity to publicly say THANKS!!!

The very first night we reported to training we got our 1st assignment…we dyed each other’s hair. Yes, it’s out of a bottle. We had a few natural red heads on the team, but I wasn't one of them and besides that, my hair was dark and longer than the other girls.  It took several bottles to cover that dark hair.  I always thought it funny that I had red hair and dark eyebrows…maybe no one else noticed.  After I finished playing I had to go to the beauty salon 3 times and have my hair dyed black.  The first 2 times I came out spotted.  It’s funny now, but at the time…NOT.
 

The next few weeks were beyond tough. I had never had to train that hard before.  I can still remember the pain from the workouts and sprints. We practiced 3 times a day and ran and ran and ran.  I remember running and crying because my shin-splints hurt so bad.  Our leg weights were bags filled with sand and connected by rope.   We started playing close to Caraway, but soon traveled all over the eastern part of the US.  We played every night and double headers on Sundays.  We got to see a lot of the country and meet some really great people.  We would get into towns early so we could meet people and do some publicity for the game.  We also had to do some shopping for necessities…like hair dye!   Becky Harp made us a Red Head pillow and we used it a lot.  I still have mine #6, Miss Personality.

I played with some of the best athletes I’ve ever seen. Jolene Ammons was our leader.  She could do anything.  In the early 70’s my husband played against the Red Heads in Marietta, GA.  Jo Jo would take a step over the half court and nail it.  Becky Harp was our team comedian and my mentor.  They all helped me through the tough times and educated me to life on the road.

Men didn’t, and still don’t, like to get beat, much less by a female so we had to continually  prove we were athletes. Often the men's team didn’t know what to expect when the game started, but it wouldn't take long for them to realized they were playing against some very talented and competitive ballplayers.  I can’t say all the experiences on the court were good, but most were.  Only a handful of men were actually nasty, but we took care of that too.  I only played one season.  I got that degree in PE, but also in Special Education, ESOL, RVI, and Spanish.  I married a basketball coach, imagine that, and I even tried my hand at coaching.  I am a player, not a coach.  I retired from teaching in 2007 and am enjoying all the grandchildren.

My only regret about this experience is that my dad isn’t here to see it.  He passed away last August.  He love watching Pat Summit and the Lady Vols. He was all about women’s sports.  He would be so very proud of us.

I'm very blessed to be one the few All American Red Heads in the world. I want to thank Coach Orwell Moore for the opportunities he gave this young naive girl during a time when opportunities were so limited.  I will always be honored that he choose me to be one of his players.  I am doubly honored to be part of the 1st women’s basketball team to be inducted into the Naismith Hall of Fame.  We open the door so that others can go in.
 



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Donna "Spanky" Losier 1967-1980
In the winter 1962 when I was 13 years old, my family and I went to Whitefield, New Hampshire to visit my aunt. She knew that I loved and played basketball and she told me that a women's professional team called the All American Red Heads would be playing at the high school that afternoon. She didn't have to ask me twice if I wanted to go to the game so off we went. Needless to say, I was very impressed and little did I know that seeing the Red Heads that day was the beginning of a journey that would change my life forever. I joined the Red Heads on November 9, 1967 fourteen days before my eighteenth birthday and I begun that incredible journey.

The Red Heads traveled all over the country for seven months from October until May playing everyday and sometime twice on Sundays averaging about 200 games a season entertaining fans with their flare, excellent play, and many laughs to go along with it too. The Red Head persevered during times when it wasn’t known by many that women played basketball and were good at it too. During the Title Nine days, the Red Heads were instrumental in promoting women’s basketball. They had three teams on the road and played almost 600 games each year.

During my career, I played 11 years and accomplished many things. I played in 1,885 games and scored 20,721 points. My team was featured in Sports Illustrated in May of 1974. I received a citation from the governor of New Hampshire when I played in my hometown. I met and played against Fergie Jenkins, met Hank Aaron when he attended our game in Atlanta, played against the San Francisco 49ers, and the Denver Bronco's. I played in all the states except Alaska and Hawaii and played in Mexico and Canada too. I received keys to many cities and we were also featured in books, magazines, and newspaper articles across the country and had appearances on national television. In 1968 Coach Moore was traveling with us in the Red Head limo on a trip to Little Rock. I was playing my guitar, laughing and hamming it up. That’s when he said  to me, “You know, you remind me of Spanky on the little rascals. Spanky, that’s a good name for you.” I’ve had  the nickname, Spanky, for 35 years and still go by it at work and introduce myself  as Donna Losier, but everyone calls me “Spanky.”

In 1998 I was also chosen to be one of the representatives of the Red Heads when we were honored at the Sears Salute to The Champions Brunch held in Kansas City which was emceed by Robin Roberts during the Women's Final Four weekend. The Red Heads have the largest display at the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame in Knoxville, Tennessee and I'm proud to say that my 20,000th point ball is displayed there along with other Red Head memorabilia.

The Red Heads inspired me as a young girl and they still inspire me now at 53. The Red Heads are pride, dedication, camaraderie, unselfishness, and teamwork. The pride and dedication shown by the All American Red Heads to their team is known throughout the country and we as members know how it felt to walk out on the court in front of that crowd and be a member of such an elite group.

The Red Heads live on in me everyday. It's displayed in my professional life as well as in my personal life. How I do my job and how I treat and relate to all those that I come in contact with. The magic I feel when I talk about the Red Heads or reminisce with an old teammate is feelings of pride for our team. Every Red Head I've ever talked with always talks about the amazing things that their teammates did, not about themselves.

I would like to thank the Olson's, and especially Lorene and Orwell Moore, who dedicated their lives to promoting women‘s basketball, and to all of the players and coaches who have made the All American Red Heads the greatest basketball team ever! I am very proud to be among the chosen few who share that bond.

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Brenda Ragan (Nalepa) 1968-1969

  As a  girl of less than 10 years old our family got a "basketball" from Santa.  My mother had no wood or money to put a goal up so a neighbor gave us a 1 x 6.  Well, up went our goal and my first taste of basketball!  What a goal.  When you shot and missed it would wobble for about 5 minutes.  Gave us a chance to calculate our next move against the "opponent."  I continued to play in junior high, but it was more like football.  The coach let us tackle each other and no learning was done.  In the eighth grade we got a new coach and he saw that I could pop them from a distance for my age, but my form was terrible.  He taught me to shoot one handed.  I began practice with the high school, but jealousy from some of the older girls ended that.  I did letter four years in high school.  One day Coach Moore called me to invite me to be part of his team.  He had seen me play in the state play-offs at the Mississippi Coliseum.  I honestly thought it was someone who was making fun of my playing, and I told him as much and hung up on him.  He called my high school coach, which in turned called me, and told me it was the truth, and that Coach Moore would call back.  He also warned me that it would prevent me from playing in college.  Well, at that time females did not get athletic scholarships and my family had no money to send me to college.  I thought it gave me an opportunity to not only do something that I loved, but a chance to save money for college.  Coach Moore was so nice that I took the bus to Caraway, Arkansas in the fall and began to train.

Training was intensive.  Luckily, Jolene Ammons was there to teach all of us rookies.  I felt bad that she was attached to our team when she could have been with another, but without her knowledge and skills I don't know where we would have been!
We played 178 games that year and won 168.  Some of the men were really out to get us, and I was kicked to the floor in a ball game in North Carolina.  I think if men had looked at the way we played men then, they would have known that females had the stamina to play full court as they do now.

The most important thing I learned as a Red Head is that Coach Orwell Moore was a real patriot.  He loved America, and said when we weren't playing basketball to see America.  It was my chance to do that, and I remember that we were playing in Flagstaff, AZ, and it began to snow.  They closed the road to the Grand Canyon, and throughout all the 9 months a year we traveled and played that was my biggest disappointment.  He realized what a wonderful  land we live in and wanted to share that with us.

I only played on year (1968-69), but became worldly with knowledge I had not known before.  I made friends from all over the United States by meeting the other Red Heads.  I finished college in 3 years in Health and PE from Mississippi University for Women, Masters in same area from MS State, and Ph.D. from Southern MS.  I coached in junior high and high school from 1973-1983. I began coaching in college in 1989 and continued until 1991.  My duties as an instructor was too heavy for me to continue coaching, but I met some fine athletes in all of my years as a coach.

I would say that "JoJo" Ammons and Coach Orwell Moore were very important in my life as a player and as a person.  Without "Spanky" Donna Losier, and her playing the guitar in the limo we would have had some long trips.  We all sang, even I, which I believe some would rather I hadn't!   She was very talented, not only on the basketball court.

We all played, we had fun, we learned so much.  What a fantastic journey...................

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Cheryl Clark 1969-1982
Cheryl was born May 1, 1949 in Munising and grew up in Wetmore Michigan with her parents, brothers (2) and sister. Her father owned and operated Clark's Welding and Repair and her mother was an elementary school teacher.

Cheryl enjoyed all kinds of sports as a child and young teen. Her first significant accomplishment was winning the Overall Point Total Ribbon in 6th grade track. This was accomplished by placing 1st in 4 events and 2nd in the other 2 she entered.

There were no organized team sports during her junior high or senior high school years so she played basketball and tennis in the summer months with neighborhood friends. She played basketball (a half-court game for girls at the time) with the Girls Athletic Association. A few games were played against teams from other schools like Marquette or Newberry. Most of the basketball she played was outside again with neighborhood friends (boys).

Cheryl was always ready for adventure and physical challenge. At 19 she purchased a 10-speed bike in Marquette and rode it home to Wetmore in just about 4 hours.

After graduating from high school in 1967, basketball quite literally became her life for the next 14 years, playing first for the Texas Cow Girls for two and a half years. She joined the All-American Red Heads mid-season in 1969-70. She then played for the Red Heads from 1970 to 1982 with the exception of the 1974-75 season when she was out with knee surgery and 1978-79 when she played for the Milwaukee Does of the WBL (Women’s Basketball League). During five of those years she was a player-coach. Her final year with the Red Heads was 1982, but the team continued as an organization until 1986, completing 50 years as an organization.

Following her time with the Red Heads, she found a new sports involvement with the Billie Jean King Tennis League from 1986 to 1989.

She returned to basketball as the Women's basketball assistant coach at St. Norbert College in DePere WI from 1990 to 1992 and was also the Sports Information Director for the college.

During her basketball career, she played in 1,600 games and score over 26,000 points, which is a very respectable 16.5 ppg.

Playing basketball for the All American Red Heads was one of the best experiences of my life, and when I put on my first Red Head uniform in 1970 I was so proud. I hoped I could live up to the level of excellence the team had established.

Jack Moore, the younger brother of the owner Orwell Moore was my first coach with the team. He stressed the fundamentals of the game, and molded me into the player I became.

I know the Red Heads inspired countless numbers of young  girls   across the country to believe they could play basketball as well as, if not better than many of “the  boys”.   Maybe future WNBA Stars??  I got the chance to see so much of the country, 49 of the states to be exact!  Hawaii being the only one I didn't play a game in.

There are just so many great memories, I couldn't begin to recount them all, but I would like to thank Mr. & Mrs. Moore for giving me the opportunity to live "my dream".  

As one of the coaches for the Red Heads in 5 seasons, my teams won loss record was 677 wins and 91 losses, for an 88% winning record.

Being a part of such a tradition is an honor I cherish 



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Pat " Watusie " Deroche  1969-1971  
My name is Patricia ( Deroche ) Hymel. My nickname is ( watusie ) given to me by my
highschool teammates because I was tall, skinny, and I could jump higher than they could.  I was born November 17, 1950.  I grew up in the small town of Gramercy, La., next to the Mississippi River between Baton Rouge and New Orleans and still live there with my parents, where my husband and I care for them during their elderly years.

  
My parents always treated me as their TomBoy. As I grew up I would rather do outside the house work such as cutting grass, helping my Dad with his gardening and carpenter work including reroofing our house after Hurricane Betsy 1965.  I also enjoyed sports.  As soon as I was old enough to play organzied sports, I signed up for everything, such as Basketball, Baseball, Volleyball, Track and Field and the Swim team.  When I was in the 7th grade, I was playing basketball with the varisity team at Lutcher High School.
  
My achievements in basketball while in High School were: All-District, All Tournament Most Valuable Player and was on the state Championship Team.
  
My Father was the one who found out about Womens Professional BasketBall teams that traveled the United States playing against men only teams. You see in my high school years there weren't any college basketball scholorships given to girls. My parents really couldn't afford to send me to college so I could continue playing Basketball.
  
After finding out about the All American Red Heads that was my next option to continue playing Basketball. Of course Mr. Moore had to come down to check me out to see if I could qualify to play on his team.  I was very nervous, even though I was good in High School, I didnt know what to expect from Mr. Moores qualifications.
  
Arrangements were made to go to my High School Gym so I could show my Stuff, next thing I know we were at my parents house and I'm signing a contract to play with the
All American Red Heads Basketball team.
  
Next stop was Camp Courage. Here is where I learned it was a little more than just basketball.  I had to learn trick shots, spinning the ball and working on the court with each other.  Combining ball playing and also performing a show.  Playing a game just about every night was a practice for the next game, and inbetween we also did road work.  This consisted of our Coach (busdriver) stopping the bus and had us all get out so he could drive ahead and wait for us to jog to where he was waiting. When we'd get to a motel, if we had time, we would go out in the parking lot and practice tricks and ball handling.I
 
WOW, what a great and wonderful experience It was playing with the Red Heads. I have cherished every moment. I met so many wonderful people, signed many
autographs, made some great friends and I have memories of a lifetime.
  
One of my most memorable Game was when we played the Kansas City Chiefs Pro Football team. I was the shortest player on our team and I  had to guard the biggest
player on their team ( Buck Bucannan ). The house was packed that night and coach Jack decided I would be the comedien that night. I had never played the comdeian before, so this was my first.  You can imagine what was going through my head.  I went out with all the Guston I had to put on a good show.  While the game was in progress, I kept looking at Mr. Moore and all I saw was him on the sideline laughing so hard thoughout the whole game.  I had never seen him laugh so much.  I guess I was doing something right I had him and the audience rolling.  All I did was the same thing the other comedians did, so what was so funny?  I guess it's because they didn't call me the Cajun Queen for nothing.  My accent gave me away.  I guess a Cajun accent can you a long way.  HA, HA.  Needless to say, I was he comedian there after.  Boy did I have fun.  It was great.

  
The memories of the Moore's family, the Coaches and all the girls will forever be in my heart. Everyone have made a dream come true for me.
My God Bless All Of You
Pat Watusie Deroche Hymel

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Teresa Bergeron  1969-1970

My basketball career started when I was knee high to a basketball; not that I am much taller than that now standing a full 5’3”.  Dad built a basketball goal out of wood and erected it in our backyard.  Ever since that day the grass never grew under that old goal.  I played from sunup to sundown.  Orange rippled balls  replaced the red blood cells that flowed thru my bloodstream – I was hooked.  I started playing competitively at the age of 10 during the summers thru the recreation department and haven’t stopped. 

At Destrehan Elementary I started playing in the 7th grade.  By the time I got to high school I was a starter on the Varsity team as a freshman.  The love of basketball kept my head in the books so I could continue to play.   It was the encouragement from my peers that kept me motivated – especially my Mom who was my biggest fan.  My high school coaches, Coach Francis, Coach Bales, and Coach Hebert also were the contributors to my skills and competitive edge that drove me to my success as a player. 

It was November of my senior year that my best friend, Sandy Walker, unbeknownst to either of us, was going to change my life.   She invited me to go to Thibodeaux to see the All American Redheads.  Throughout the whole game my adrenaline was pumping – I sat and watched in awe.   The antics, the ball handling, the shots, and skill that these women performed were just unbelievable.    Could it be possible that this could be a career option for me – an absolute dream come true?  I spoke to the players after the game as they spoke with such enthusiasm and encouragement about playing; that really impressed me the most.  After a couple of weeks I spoke to Mr. Moore; Coach Plummer came out to scout me and to talk to my parents.  My parents were behind me 100% to fulfill my life-long goal.  I traded college for an opportunity to travel around the country, meet people, and get paid to do the thing I loved most in life – Play basketball for the All American Redheads.

The following year I was off to training camp.  Two fun filled, grueling weeks of eat, sleep, and drink basketball at the camp in Holly Springs, Mississippi.  I learned more tricks with a basketball and developed skills I never knew I had.  Once we got on the road – the learning never stopped.

 November 30, 1969 was a night that will live on in my memory forever.  I returned to my alma mater, Destrehan High School, to play on the court where it all began.  When I was introduced as an All American Redhead, I got a standing ovation – my knees got weak and tears of joy rolled down my cheeks - to be so honored; such a treasured moment.
To Mr. Moore and the All American Redhead organization I say thanks for making my dream a reality.   The camaraderie that we shared as a team, the places we visited, the players we played against, the autographs, TV interviews, radio talk shows, the influential people, the friendships that were made – all too overwhelming for one to imagine could happen in one lifetime from Destrehan, La. to Caraway, Ark. It was an honor that I will cherish forever – born a blonde, but forever a Redhead at heart.

To this date I still play senior Olympic basketball with the Silver Slammers out of New Orleans.  Another wonderful organization consisting of female basketball players that will play on forever ranging from 50 years old to 85.  Still growing old, but never growing up, and still dribbling.

Hats off to all the Redheads that have paved the way for the female athletes of today.  

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Brenda "Brooksie" (O'Bryan) Koester 1970-1973
I played with the Red Heads from 1970 to 1973. I have always loved sports, basketball especially.  My parents were avid sports fans as they never missed a game even with 4 out of 5 of their children playing. They also attended as many Red Heads games they possibly could. 

My basketball career started in 8th grade in Cairo, Mo. which is a very small town.  I missed playing in the 7th grade due to a bone infection (osteomyelitis) in my ankle.  The doctors at Shriners hospital weren't sure if I would be a cripple but after a year on crutches I was able to play.  During my senior year (1967) in high school, our team was undefeated and even though I made unanimous choice on the conference team and avg. 28 pts per game there was no place to continue playing as there was no state tournaments in Mo. then. 

During the summer of 1970, I was playing softball in Louisiana and met a former Red Head (Pauline Barbo). We started talking and she told me about the Red Heads, I was very interested and she helped me get in contact with Mr. Moore and off to Camp Courage I went.  Two days after arriving at camp, I signed a contract for this famous team and I felt like a dream had come true!
 
During my three years as an All American Red Head, I had many wonderful experiences.  A few that stand out was the month we played in Alaska.  Hope Cottage in Anchorage was our sponsor which was a home for special kids from all over the state of Alaska.  We played 44 games in 30 days.  It was really a great time, besides playing basketball we got to see whales being cut up and bears in the wild.  We panned for gold and seen a dog sled team.  Being a small town country girl, I never dreamed that I would ever do things like this.  I got to see most of the U.S., Canada, and Mexico.  We played against the Kansas City Chiefs and our team was featured in the Chicago Sun-Times in April, 1973,
 
I played for Coach Jack Moore my first two years.  He was a great coach who along with the veteran Red Heads taught me what it really meant to be lucky enough to be an All American Red Head.  I developed great friendships during these three years, it felt like we were family.  I also got the privilege of meeting people from all over the country and find out really great our country and people are.
 
In my three years with the team, my teams played 644 games and won 585 of those. Our 1972-73 team played 205 games and won 199.  We won 96 games in a row that year.  During these three years, I scored 10,017 points and was one of the lucky ones to have a jersey placed behind the Red Head car in our exhibit in the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame.
 
It is really hard to explain in mere words what being an All American Red Head really meant to us ladies who was fortunate enough to have the honor of playing for this great organization.  The closet I can come is recalling Mr. Moore's words, "Everyday was Christmas to an All American Red Head", this was so true for my three short years, every day was like Christmas and the memories and friendships will always be cherished.  The All American Red Heads will always be the World Champions of Women's basketball.
 
My sister Kay O'Bryan also played on the Red Heads. She was on the western unit her first year while I played on the Central unit my third year.  She played three years too. I have two children.  My daughter, Jamie, played for Moberly Jr. College where they finished 5th in the nation.  She then had a full ride to Kansas State but transferred after a semester due to problems the college was having to Southeast Missouri State where she received many honors.  My son, Jason, played 4 years in college and the played two years of professional basketball in France.  He is 6' 7" and has naturally red hair!!

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 Glenda "Okie" Hall McClain 1971-1975
I played professional basketball for the All-American Red Heads from 1971-75.  I started playing basketball in the 4th grade at Liberty Morris school. I played Jr. High basketball at Twin Hills school and high school basketball at Haskell High school in Oklahoma.  I made All-State in basketball my senior year and got to play in the East-West All-State games.

After high school, I started college at Northeastern State University in Tahlequah, Oklahoma.  My goal was to be a coach and Physical Education teacher.  After the completion of my first year at Northeastern State, Mr. Orwell Moore(owner of the All-American Redheads professional basketball team) contacted my high school coach (Jr. Dixon) inquiring about the possibility of me playing for the All-American Redheads.  Mr. Moore had seen me play in the East-West All-State games my senior year in 1970. 

My parents were very skeptical and I was very excited.  They thought if I left college, I would not complete my degree.  I saw it as a great opportunity( for women in the 1970’s) to play basketball, travel, see the country, and pay for my education.  It turned out to be a great experience in my life.  Wow, I had so much fun.


After talking to Mr. Moore, I made my mind up that I was going to play basketball and I re-assured my parents that I would complete my education.  The RedHead season had already started, so I joined the team as they were passing by Okmulgee, Oklahoma(about 25 miles from Haskell).  I was extremely nervous, as I said “Bye” to my parents and climbed into that big 30 foot limousine.  Being from a small town, I had never even seen a car that long, much less, ride in one.  I could see real fast that this was going to be a totally different lifestyle than I could have ever imagined. 


My first coach was Jolene Ammons.  She greeted me and after introductions, made me feel at home and my anxieties started to fade.  We all became family.


For the next 4 seasons(1971-75), we played 100’s of ballgames, averaging around 200 games a season(Oct. till May), winning about 85 percent of our games.  We played all kinds of men’s teams and played by men’s rules, which was unheard of in those days.   In each game, we would play serious basketball during the 1st quarter to show we could play competitive basketball against men, and in the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th quarter we would put on a show with our basketball.  We would always put on a half-time show, consisting of: juggling, spinning, trick-shooting, knee-dribbling, and fancy passing.


During the summers, I would go to school and work on my P.E. and coaching degree.  I completed my bachelor’s degree in 1976 and my master’s degree in 1978.


While playing with the All-American RedHeads, we traveled 50,000 to 60,000 road miles in a season and had the opportunity to see so many different sights such as:   Disneyland, Knotts Berry Farm, the Empire State Building, the Statue of Liberty, Niagara Falls, Mt. Rushmore, the Redwood Forest, Washington D.C., Las Vegas, Key West, and the list goes on and on.


My 3rd year with the All-American RedHeads, I got the opportunity to coach and play.  I had a rookie team that lived up to the winning tradition of the All-American RedHeads.  I was so proud of them.  We were ladies on and off of the floor.  The All-American RedHeads were pioneers of women’s basketball. 

    

I began my teaching and coaching career at Ft. Gibson Schools in Ft. Gibson, Oklahoma in the fall of 1976 and continued there, until retirement in June 2004.  I coached basketball and taught Physical Education the first 10 years of my career and  the last 19 years, I taught Middle School Science and P.E. and Elementary P.E.   I was Ft. Gibson School’s district Teacher of the Year in 1990 and Early Learning Center Teacher of the Year in l998.  I was nominated in Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers in 1998 and in 2004/05.


In 1986, I married my wonderful husband, Cleon McClain( who also taught 8th grade Science at Ft. Gibson Schools for 27 years).  We live in Muskogee, Oklahoma with our two English bulldogs(Fred and Ethyl).  I work part-time at Bacone College in Muskogee, Oklahoma as a College Supervisor of the P.E. Department and as an adjunct professor.

  
In 1999, we had a RedHead reunion in Knoxville, Tenn. and got to attend the grand opening of the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame.  Seeing our old limousine,  pictures, and memorabilia in the Hall of Fame brought back lots of memories of fun days on the road.  I learned so much being on the road.  I learned the 4 D’s life:  Dedication, Desire. Discipline, and Determination, which I have used throughout my life.   

  
I want to extend a special “thanks” to Mr. And Mrs. Orwell Moore for giving me the opportunity to play for the All-American RedHeads.  I want to thank Jolene Ammons and Charlotte Adams for being my wonderful coaches and thanks to all my RedHead teammates and friends.

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Sue Whitten 1971-74

Sue Whitten was born June 10, 1951, the daughter of Opal Whitten, in Memphis, TN.  As a child, the family relocated to  Horn Lake, Mississippi.  As insignificant as that might have seemed, it would become the paramount fate that shaped an opportunity which ultimately led toward her becoming an All American Red Head. That was long ago.

What started as a 7th grade extra-curricular activity became a twist of fortune for Sue.  This story is not to make Sue  more or less captivating, because, as everyone knew, basketball was not just enjoyable but a tremendous shot in the arm for a girl who would become skilled at a sport that would dominate her view of an impenetrable role of something she most wanted.

As a 5’7” junior & senior player, she helped Horn Lake’s girls team to a 26-6 record, was two-time All-North Mississippi pick and  would also land similar honors in the Chickasaw Conference.  Said Van Chancellor (March 26, 1969) “Sue is one of the hardest working players I have ever coached.  She is a defensive specialist and takes great pride in her play.”  That same year Chancellor invited the Horn Lake High School girls team to an event at the Memphis Mid-South Coliseum to see the All American Red Heads. The idea was seeded but not thought through. After all, there was college and more basketball.

In  1969, Sue was the first Horn Lake High School Girl’s Team Player to be named to the  North State All-Star Team.  Summer camp counseling, the All-Star game & other appearances came & went.  In September, 1969, Sue entered Mississippi State College for Women in Columbus, MS, with a major in Physical Education, under Coach Jill Upton.  As a freshman & sophomore at the MSCW  Sue visited nearby games of the Red Heads as often as possible.  Then a  knee injury during MSCW ladies basketball practice placed her in the school infirmary her sophomore year which would sideline her for the remainder of the season.  That, she thought, would be the end.  Not so.  What would it take to turn a desire into reality?  It was a red, white and blue uniform with stars and stripes  and a change of  hair color.

In the summer of 1971, Orwell Moore, owner of the Red Heads, made contact with Sue & inquired as to whether  her interest in basketball would include playing for the All American Red Heads.  It was her junior year.  Although it would mean leaving college, it was the RED HEADS! Would she? Did she? Yes, absolutely, she did.  Bring it on!  After all, the All America Red Heads were America’s greatest basketball attraction & billed as most popular basketball team & queens of big time basketball.  And Sue ‘Rosie Red’ Whitten, from a little town in Mississippi, by instinct provided antics, skill & laughter as the Red Heads comedienne, ‘Prima Donna’ & the ‘Crown Princess of Basketball’ for the next few years of her life. There was never a question whether to use the optimal talents of her sport.  There was never a question that she sized up the job.  She was totally committed to it and really threw herself into the sport & the part.  Teammates Charlotte Adams, Cheryl Clark, Brenda Brooks, Gail Guthrie, Wanda England, Jana Giles . . . . .Camp Courage Summer Camps . . . . Meeting former Red Heads . . . . So many places, none forgotten.   .

Sue’s tenure with the Red Heads ended but never was left behind.  College did come later, as well as amateur basketball (coach & player), softball, racquetball & volleyball & a ‘real’ job.  In 1975, while living in California, as a member of a  Sonoma County women’s AAU team,  along with Santa Rosa Junior College women’s basketball coach, Caren Franci,  Sue suited up to face the Taiwan National women.  That was both an experience & an education. 

All these years later it has become surreal.  It wasn’t adaptability or curiosity.  It was excitement & compassion .  What it did do, from day one, was to set Rosie Red apart and it was the start of a special relationship between a group of women athletes, coaches & Orwell Moore.  It was  wide-ranging fun, hilarious - yet intimate - competitive and a time past that has lasted  through many years of memories.

Today, Sue has returned to Mississippi after working in other states of the country for over 20 years.  Retired, she works with Mississippi Wildlife Rehabilitation helping injured and abandoned or orphaned wildlife.  From April through November each year it is a full time 2
4/7 association which provides animals a chance to grow, recover & be released back to the wild. 





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Nancy Malone 1973-1975

Nancy Malone is my name and basketball is my game! I would have never thought that I would play for the All American Red Heads or be lucky enough to be in the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame. All of this happened by a once in a lifetime opportunity.


I grew up in the small rural community of Herndon, Kansas, with four brothers and a sister. Since age five, I have had a love for the game of basketball.  My oldest brother taught me the fundamentals and love of the game on our driveway court.  It wasn’t till my senior year of high school, that I even had an opportunity to play basketball.  I cannot express the excitement I shared with nine other girls, who came out to make up the first team.  We finished the year successfully with a 5-4 record, and the beginning of thirty years of women’s sports at Herndon before the school was closed in 2004.  My senior year came to an end with a privilege to see the All American Red Heads women’s professional basketball team.  My mom and I attended the game of ferocious competition against a local men’s team.  The Red Head’s not only showed they could play basketball, but also put on a show during the game and at half time.  The Red Heads wowed the crowd with ball handling, passing; fancy dribbling, shooting and juggling.  They gave out autographs and talked with the crowd after their decisive victory.  It was at that time, I found out about a sports camp and an opportunity to try out for the team.  I was excited about the information and asked my parents if I could attend the camp.  They told me I could if I could save enough money to pay for the camp, airfare, and spending money while attending.  “The greatest pleasure in life is doing what people say you can not do.”  This axiom became my motivation to be a part of the All American Red Heads.

The All American Red Heads Sport Camp was in Holly Springs, Mississippi. Another axiom, “If you can imagine it, you can achieve it, if you can dream it, you can become it”, helped me focus my efforts on making the team.  While at the camp, we engaged in many different sports, although basketball was the main focus of the camp. The daily routine consisted of:

7:00 a.m. – Breakfast

8:00-11:00 – Basketball Fundamentals

12:00-1:00 – Lunch

1:00-2:00 – Mental Toughness (Mr. Moore would explain & give dictation about Basketball fundamentals and strategies of the game.) 

2:00-4:00 – Swimming & Track Events

4:00-5:00 – Rest Period

5:00-6:00 – Supper

7:00-11:00 – Basketball Competitions (Dribbling, Shooting, Passing, & One on One   

                                                               

All of the activities were done on an outside court. At the end of the first week, Mr. Moore approached me to see if I could stay another week and try out for the team. I was overwhelmed to say the least.  I replied quickly with YES!  At the end of the second week, I was offered a contract. THIS WAS A DREAM COME TRUE!

The years between 1973 and 1975 were some of the most memorable of my life. I began my journey as a seventeen-year-old, ready to experience life on the road.   My luck continued as I was placed on the western unit, which traveled in those states west of the Mississippi River.  I played with the Eastern unit and traveled east of the Mississippi River my second season.  This enabled me to be in all of the lower 48 states before my 20th birthday.  Traveling with seven girls and a driver in a fifteen passenger limousine, you became as close as family.  We were able to view the beautiful country side, talk, read, listen to music, sleep or play practical jokes on one another.  As a naïve teenager, I was often the target of many pranks by my older teammates. We would take advantage of the opportunity to sightsee whenever possible.  Some memorable experiences during the two years with the All American Red Heads were playing against other professional teams, like the Washington Red Skins and Green Bay Packers football teams.  We also played in Old Mexico and the School for the Deaf in New York.  A few of my favorite sites were the Men’s Basketball Hall of Fame, Statue of Liberty, Empire State Building, Disney World, Disney Land, the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.  We also were featured on many radio, television talk shows as well as local and national newspapers.  I remember when ABC (20/20 crew) traveled and filmed our lives on and off the court. 


At journey’s end, I had traveled over 140,000 miles and played nearly 400 games all over the United States, Canada and Mexico.

The four D’s (Desire, Determination, Dedication and Discipline) that I learned and applied during my career with the All American Red Heads, would now set the stage for my life and career.  I received my Master in Education Degree while I was in my first year of teaching and coaching at Wagoner High School, in Wagoner, Oklahoma.   While at Wagoner, I taught physical education and coached women’s basketball, volleyball, softball and track.  During the seven years at Wagoner, I was voted teacher of the month and then teacher of the year in 1985.  I am currently in my 19th year with Federal Trio Programs at Bacone College in Muskogee, Oklahoma.  I wore a variety of hats during my tenure, first as an advisor for Upward Bound program followed by seven years as Director.  I am currently an advisor for Student Support Services, which I also served as interim director.  I also had the privilege to be an assistant women’s basketball coach for two seasons. 


I am married to Phillip Wynn a VA Nurse and recently retired from the Oklahoma National Guard.  We have one daughter, Megan who is active in softball, basketball and FFA at Ft. Gibson High School in Ft. Gibson, Oklahoma.  I also have two stepsons Quinton who has a daughter Kreszin and James.  As for my self, I am reliving my passion for basketball by joining the senior Olympics.  I am having the time of my life and thank God for the blessings he has bestowed on my family and myself. 

I would like to take this opportunity to thank Mr. Orwell Moore, and the many lifelong friends I have made in my association with the All American Red Heads.

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Kay (O'Bryan) Burk 1972-1976
I played on the Red Heads from 1972 through 1976. I skipped the year 73-74. I played on the team with Linda Jones in the 75-76 season. I played with Barb Hostert and Donna Losier for only part of a season. My sister Brenda (Brooksie--O'Bryan) Koester started playing in 1970. She played for 3 years. The last year she played was my first year. We played on different teams as there were 3 teams traveling at that time and Mr. Moore felt that sister's might have trouble getting along on the same team and just cause problems in general with other team-mates. I'm not sure if we would have we usually got along pretty good. She was 5 years older than me and I usually did as she told me, Ha!

My sister had found out about the All American Red Heads through another player when she was playing softball in Louisiana. They just got to talking and she told Brenda that she looked like a basketball player. Brenda said yes that was what she really liked playing. She ended up contacting Mr. Moore and went for a tryout and joined the team. I always like listening to her story about the first time she went to Camp Courage for her tryout.

I was still in high school at the time and whenever her team was playing anywhere close my mom, dad, my brother and I went to her games. Also my grandparents went a lot. They loved to go watch the All American Red Heads. My Dad was a bragger and he would always tell anybody who would listen that he had daughter's playing on the All American Red Heads and that we usually beat men's teams. Anyway after going and watching Brenda anytime we could I decided to play for them right after I graduated from high school. That summer was spent getting ready and practicing my ball skills. Watching the Red Heads for the 2 years before was a big help in knowing some of the things they did. Being right out of high school, a really small school in Cairo, MO, I was I guess you would say I was shy then. Brenda did take a group from my high school and another girl we knew to the basketball camp in Camp Courage in 1971. There were 5 of us that year. I still have a Camp Courage newspaper from during that time. I can remember Barb Hostert that year, we did drills and played against each other.


My first year playing I had Coach Charlotte Adams as my coach. Other teammates were Wanda England, Jana Giles, Glenda "Okie" Hall, Sue Whitten, and another rookie that year was Kathy Jones. She didn't get to play very much, she was injured for a lot of the season. I look up to Coach Adams very much. She had a lot to do with helping me grow up that year on the Red Heads. At the time I hadn't really been anywhere away from home. She was in a way about like a mother to me I guess. Tough at times but always making sure we all were doing the right things to be successful. Okie was always so much fun that year, she was always making us laugh. Some of the things she came up with was so hilarious. We got a long so well. Oh, you had times being together and traveling like that you got to be about like sister's but looking back on it I would say that was a turning point in my life. Maybe being my first year it just left a mark on me.
 
The following year I couldn't really decide what I wanted to do, Brenda decided to marry and started a family. I wasn't sure what team I would be on and I guess just undecided as to what I wanted to do. I helped my dad that year do some carpenter work, he was building houses and I helped him. He was always so picky about the way things were done but he was one of the best in his work. You knew it was done right. I can remember even sweeping the floors had to be done just so, so. I learned a lot from him. That next year, just starting the season in October the Red Heads were playing in Sturgeon, MO. We all decided to go watch them and knowing a few of them I had told them I would be interested in playing again. I missed it! Mr. Moore contacted me and I was on the bus within a week to Camp Courage and met with Mr. Moore and he took me to join the team that next day. I enjoyed that year. Traveling, playing the game of basketball, meeting all kinds of people and seeing the USA was so much fun and rewarding.
 
In my 3 years of playing I got to see so many places. Disneyland, Walt Disney World, Niagara Falls, Painted Desert, Statue of Liberty, Empire State Building, Magic Mountain, Knott's Berry Farm, San Diego Zoo, Church Hills Down, (saw Secretariat that year), Boot Hill, and many other places. Had our picture taken on the front steps of Washington DC with the Senator of Arkansas.

My last year I played on the what they called the College Edition Team. I was team captain, I hadn't been to college but Mr. Moore wanted someone with experience on the team. All the other girls were first year girls and it was our coaches first year also. It was a trying year but a learning year also for me. Linda "Jonesie" Jones was one of my favorite team-mates that year. Playing for the All American Red Heads shaped my life in many ways. Anytime I get to talking about the Red Heads it just makes me feel so very fortunate to have had the experience of playing and being a part of such a great organization. I think it is so unique that whenever we have anything where Red Heads get together how much we all feel like a part of a big family! I just love listening to the stories that other Red Heads tell.

There has been so many memories made for so many of us that it just seems unbelievable at times. One of the things I enjoyed the most were the young kids. Most of them were so much fun. They would come up to you and just want to talk and play. I would show them some tricks and just talk and play with them. I always enjoyed signing autographs and talking with the people.


I am still involved in a lot in basketball. I have been coaching girls basketball at a high school in Ft. Madison, IA for the last 9 years. I have always been involved in sports, played a lot of softball along with basketball in my younger days. I started out being the assistant coach to our Varsity teams and this year I took over our Freshman team. I haven't decided if I want the head coaching job or not. There is a lot more to it than just coaching that I'm not sure if I want all the headaches or hassle.


Brenda and I had talked many times about just wanting to have a Red Head Reunion and getting to do that and playing one last game in Jonesboro, AK in 1996 was another dream come true. You can't believe how many times I have dreamed of the Red Heads, either playing or just traveling again and being part of this great organization. When we first heard of the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame we were so excited that's about all we could think and talk about it. Going to and being part of the Grand Opening of the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame was awesome. I will never forget the first time seeing the big basketball and then the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame, I was so amazed. When my sister Brenda and I got to see the All American Red Heads Exhibit we were so emotional. It meant so much to us that I can't describe it in words. I sure wished my Dad could have been there, his health failed and he passed away 3 years ago. Last year we took our Mom and I am so grateful that at least she got to see it. I am fortunate to have a great husband, Roger, who I can share my life with. We have 2 children. A daughter, Krisha and a son Travis. Krisha is a special girl, she is 21 and lives with us, she enjoys going to all our basketball games and really cheers on the girls. Travis is 16 and enjoys football and computers. He wants to be a professional gamer.
 
  

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Marsha Tate 1974-78

What an unbelievable journey – from Black Rock, Ark, a small town in Northeast Ar to being enshrined into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield Ma!

My story with the All American red Heads actually started on a softball field at the age of 15 when Mr. Moore saw me playing in the District tournament.  Mr. Moore approached the boys basketball coach at my school wanting to talk to me about playing for the Red Heads and discovered I was only going into my sophomore year of high school.  As I found out more about the Red Heads and saw them play, I KNEW that was what I wanted to do – much to my mother’s dismay because at the age of 13 I had decided I wanted to be an RN.  In the 70s that was much more the norm.

The opportunity to play for the Red Heads was a dream come true because I did not have the opportunity to play high school basketball since my school did not offer this.  My only opportunity was in the 5th and 6th grades.

So, after that call, I began going to the Red Heads camp in Holly Springs, MS each summer, called Camp Courage.  I learned the fundamentals and then the tricks and how to play “Red Head” ball.  I learned how to shoot hook shots from one of the greatest Red Heads, Charlotte Adams and how to juggle from another Red Head, Jolene Ammons.  Camp Courage was fondly referred to by my friend and teammate, Barb Hostert and myself as Camp Courage University of Holly Springs, Ms.

After I graduated from high school as valedictorian of my class, I signed my first contract with the All American Red Heads and returned to Camp Courage in late September to begin my 3 years career from 1974-77.  By the way, Red Heads practiced 3 times a day on an outdoor , concrete court!  During those 3 years, we traveled many miles, often traveling all night to get to the next game and we played 6-7 nights a week with several double headers thrown in.  I was fortunate to be able to play in all 493 games, scoring a total of 8,119 points and pulling down 3,931 rebounds.  Our overall records for those 3 years  was 412 wins and 81 loses.  My game high was 46 points (plus 18 rebounds) and my rebound high was 22.  I LOVED to rebound.

The highlight of my career was spending almost a month playing in Alaska.  We went on a dogsled ride, flew by Mendenhall Glacier, rode a ferry for an hour to an island for our 1st town games, flew to many of our games on small planes.  Stayed with people in their homes and spent the night in the gym at Bethel Al with a wind  chill of 30 below outside.  It was truly a great experience.

After my career with the Red Heads, I did get my Bachelor of Science in Nursing and I have worked at the same hospital as an RN for my entire 31 years.  I am currently the manager of St. Bernards Home Health in Jonesboro, Ar.

Many thanks go out to my Mom who allowed me to follow my dreams and has always been a great support.

Many thanks also goes out to Mr. Orwell Moore for giving me the opportunity to live this dream, to travel and play the game I love.  I not only leaned the fundamentals of basketball but also life lessons.

I took the road less traveled by many women in 1974 and that has made all the difference.  

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 Barbara Hostert 1974-1980
At 14 years of age I saw the All-American Red Heads play basketball at my high school.  When I got home, I remember the excitement when telling my parents that was what I wanted to do - play with the Red Heads.  That was my dream!  I obtained information about their summer basketball camp (Camp Courage) and attended the following 4 summers. I was drafted by the Red Heads after my senior year of high school.  My dream was coming true.

I played over 200 games a season for 6 six years (1974-80).  Our team played seven nights a week for 7 months.  I had the opportunity to travel in every state. Remeberences of our 1976 Alaskan tour, playing against the Washington Redskins, and guarding Fergie Jenkins during a game in Canada are only a few things that stand out in my mind.  We played at Galludet College for the deaf and learned sign language to introduce ourselves and to communicate with the other team.  We received keys to cities and were recognized as pioneers of women's basketball.  We learned different cultures and differences in people and how to accept these.  What an experience!  There was so much more then the traveling and playing, there were life lessons.


I have my original notes written by a 14 year old with aspirations of being a professional basketball player.  When I look at these as an adult, I realize this is where it all started, with Moore's All-American Red Heads.  I learned patience, teamwork, how to get along with others and how to work out problems.  The most important things I learned were the 4 D's - Desire, Determination, Dedication and Discipline.  These helped me as I evolved from a basketball player into a business person in a Fortune 500 company.  These became every day commandments.


I not only learned about basketball, I learned about life.  I could never express the gratitude, the love, nor the bonds of friendship that I have for Orwell Moore, Coach Charlotte Adams and all my Red Head teammates.  I give them thanks for "raising" me and grooming not only my basketball skills, by my life skills as well.

Barbara "Gabby" Hostert
Mokena, Illinois
All-American Red Heads 1974-1980

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  Debra S. Parashak    1975- 1977  
I began my sports career at Meramec Junior College and Southern Illinois University – Edwardsville, where I played a multitude of sports including basketball, volleyball, ice hockey, field hockey, indoor/outdoor soccer and softball.  Sports were then, and now, vitally important to me.  I contemplated participating in track and field, swimming and tennis, but knew that what I really loved about sports could only be found as part of team. In 1975, women’s sports opportunities weren’t as readily available as they are now, but I tried to continue to improve my game by always striving for the highest level of competition I could find.  
 
At that time, I played for a short time on the men’s ice hockey team and played semipro volleyball. Upon graduation, I found – similar to other women that played sports before Title IX – that I was at the end of my sports career at 21 years of age. I had simply exhausted my opportunities in most sports.  Even though sports seemed done with me, I wasn’t done with sports so I sent a letter of interest to a professional women’s basketball league that was trying to get off the ground. Unfortunately, it was the right idea at the wrong time and the league folded before it got started.  Fortunately, one of the people pushing for the pro league was also the owner of the All American Red Heads, Orwell Moore – which is where my All American Red Heads story begins.        

Mr. Moore came to St. Louis to see me try out. At that time, I knew little about the Red Heads and was immensely surprised when he suggested that myself and my tryout partners scrimmage against some men that were playing in the same gym.  This was my first experience with playing basketball against men. Mr. Moore offered me an opportunity to play with his All American Red Heads on his “College Edition” team. Although playing against men, utilizing trick shots, providing entertainment and dying my hair red were things I hadn’t thought I would ever do. Plus, in 1975 a woman playing sports for a living was considered, at best, impractical, the opportunity to continue playing a sport I loved was simply to tempting to pass up. So, ignoring the raised eyebrows of my friends and families, I left my part-time job at the Army Corps of Engineers and signed with Mr. Moore.  

When I look back now on my All American Red Heads experience, I realize that traveling all over the country, having close friends on the team, playing men’s teams and entertaining crowds was a large part of how I grew as a person. I was basically a shy person at 20, but after countless basketball games, half-time shows, interviews and autograph sessions I left the Red Heads with a more outgoing personality and a better ability to get along with everyone. On a lighter note, due to our hectic schedule (drive all day and play a game a night), we seldom had time for a slow meal. Therefore, one lesson I learned was to order dessert first so you could eat that while you were waiting for your meal. 

The Red Heads provided me with an opportunity (unique at that time) to continue to experience everything I loved most about sports. The camaraderie of a team that travels in a station wagon and is on the road almost every day is amazing. For those two years my teammates were my best friends. Although, we have grown apart over the years, we often see each other at the Red Head reunions and that is always a pleasant time for reminiscing and for recapturing that feeling of “shared experience” and the comfort of knowing that you will always belong to something larger than yourself. In addition, playing a team sport simply provides a type of relationship that cannot be had outside of sports. Team victories are shared equally by all members and on any given night anyone can be the “star”.  Unlike today’s basketball players we didn’t have any one “star”. We each had a role to play and our victories were sweeter because of that.

Playing with the Red Heads not only provided me with 2 more years of playing basketball but also with a multitude of additional memories and experiences. Without the Red Heads I probably would never have seen Graceland, petted Secretariat, met the Seattle Supersonics, met the San Francisco 49’s, been interviewed on TV, gotten caught in a blizzard, seen the Bicentennial Wagon Train, traveled through 35 states (plus Mexico and Canada) in 8 months (a total of 45,758 miles by car) or played basketball both in a barn and on a battleship. These experiences were a favorite part of the Red Head experience. While the professional women’s teams may get better pay now, I doubt that these women get to have these kinds of travel experience nor do I think they have the opportunity for the same kind of camaraderie that myself and my Red Head teammates shared.  After all, dying each other’s hair red is certainly a bonding experience.

The influence of the Red Heads in my life has evidenced itself in my career and in my personality. As I mentioned before I am more outgoing and more able to understand people because of the time I spent with my teammates and the people we met on the road. In addition, playing against men in the 70’s wasn’t always fun and games and the experience taught me how to get along with men in my chosen career field which at the time I began was a “man’s world”.  I learned the simple value of making people happy. Later, I learned that although some of what we did for entertainment seemed “quirky” at the time it has paved the way for other women’s professional basketball leagues that are taken at face value for the entertainment value of the women’s basketball game alone.  Knowing that I played some small role in a special part of the history of women’s basketball makes me proud.

After I left the Red Heads I went to work for Southwestern Bell Telephone and have been with them since then. The lessons of self-discipline, focus and hard work have led to 5 years as a technician and 20 years as a manager at Southwestern Bell Telephone. Interestingly, 95% of the staff I manage are men so I guess I went from playing against them to “bossing” them around. But seriously, playing against men at a time when women weren’t “supposed” to play basketball taught me important lessons and helped me put together a career as an engineer beginning at a time when women weren’t “supposed” to be engineers either.  All in all, I wouldn’t have traded my experiences as an All American Red Head for anything and I am honored and proud that we are included in the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame and are recognized as a part of the history of women’s basketball.     

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 Patty Bruce - College Edition Team 1975-76

 I started my love of sports when I attended a small country school known as “Garrett U”. It was located outside the town of Beaver, Oklahoma. The entire school had a total of 50 students, so if there was any free time, we were in the gym playing basketball.  I went to “Garrett U” from the 2nd grade through 6th grade.  I played my first basketball game in the 2nd grade, and way back then, they didn’t lower the goal height, so you had to shoot, shoot, and shoot again, until finally the basketball would make it through the hoop.  Those were great memories for everyone who experienced “Garrett U”. 

My family eventually moved into the town of Beaver, and I went to junior high and graduated from there in 1971.  The only sports for girls were basketball and track and field, so most of the school played one of these sports.

Beaver, Oklahoma is known as the “World’s Champion Cow Chip Capital of the World”, and I held the title of the, “World’s Champion Cow Chip Thrower” for several years.

I attended and graduated from Southwestern Oklahoma State University in Weatherford, Oklahoma, where I played on the field hockey, basketball, volleyball, and softball teams. That was right before the Title IX years, so if you were selected to play on the “All Star” teams, you had to help pay the fees.  There were no girls’ athletic scholarships during that time, so you were paying for your own college and also for your love of the sports.

I played on the 1975-1976 College Edition Team.  It was the first team the All American Redheads  put together a team Made up of players, who had attended or graduated from college.

We traveled and played almost every night, traveled over 45,000 miles in a red limousine, known as “Big Red”. Some of the great experiences we had were, passing the Bicentennial Wagon several times throughout the states we were traveling, visiting Graceland, taking the ride up the St Louis Arch, going to Clairborne Farms in Kentucky, and actually touching the real horse, Secretariat. We met Bill Russell as he coached the Seattle Supersonics, interviewed for numerous tv and radio stations, played on an Indian reservation in Arizona, traveled through the Painted Desert and Petrified Forest, Disneyland, San Diego Zoo, also met Sally Ride, who later became the first woman astronaut. We played a game at The School for the Deaf, so the entire team learned a very small part of sign language. We traveled and played in 35 states, Canada, and Mexico.  Actually, we played 146 games and won 128 of them.  I scored 1,819 points that season.

I could go on and on remembering all the great people and places we experienced. It was a wonderful experience and gave me a lifetime of memories that I will never, ever forget. Playing basketball all my life, was my life.

After that season, I continued my education and started my lifetime dream of coaching and teaching.  I coached the women’s basketball and volleyball teams at Midwestern State University, Wichita Falls, TX, while working on my Master of Education Degree.

 I live in Amarillo, Texas now where I teach in a high school, and I also teach drivers education courses. If you ever come through Amarillo, beware.

At several Redhead reunions, we have had several WNBA players, and now commentators for the game, come to us and thank us for being a great part of women’s basketball history and allowing girls’ to be able to get scholarships for college and possibly playing in the WNBA. We were also honored to go back and play the retired Portland Trailblazers, and be a part of the Pan Am Games in Cottage Grove, Oregon, the summer of 2010

When I look back now at the great experiences and all the great things we had when playing for the All American Redheads, I realize what a great honor it was and I will cherish this for my lifetime.

I would like to thank the Moore family for giving me the opportunity to make these great memories, and to be a part of women’s basketball history.  Being inducted in the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame is a great honor to me and my teammates.

I would also like to give a huge thanks to John Molina. Without his great desire and dedication to the preservation of women’s basketball, most of our journey would have gone unnoticed.  Also,  thanks to Matt Zeysing, historian of Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame, for all his dedication and friendship during our reunions.


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Linda Jones College Edition team 1975-1976

I grew up as the oldest of five brothers and sisters in Chambers, Arizona and attended school in Sanders Arizona; ten miles from home and still lives there today.  My Mom worked, as a Post Master in Chambers and my Dad was a heavy equipment operator and worked construction.  Dad knew I loved basketball but was to little for a regular goal so he stood up a railroad tie and bent a piece of copper tubing to form a circle and nailed it to each side, gave me a green plastic ball and was thrilled, it was all mine.

I started playing basketball in the fourth grade, half court with six on a team and we were limited to just three dribbles before they had to stop, pass or shoot. In sixth grade each team was allowed one player called a rover that could play the whole court with unlimited dribbles. Linda got to be that player she said it was so much fun she was hooked for life. My love for playing the game was so strong I was playing in a game and the ball came off the rim and hit my little finger. I looked at it and it was broken at the middle joint and at a right angle to the rest of the finger. I didn’t want to stop playing so I grabbed it pulled it straight and kept playing.  I continued playing through jr. high and high school and entered Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, where I played varsity and started four years along with volleyball and softball.  I couldn’t get enough basketball so while I played for NAU I also played on the city team and played two to four games a week and when the season was over I played softball on the college team and city league where they were state champions for four years in a row. I received both my BS and Masters degree in education and stopped just short of getting my principals certificate.  While attending Northern Arizona University I read an article on the All American Red Heads in Sports Illustrated. I followed up on the article and got a try out in 1975 at Camp Courage in Holly Springs MI.  During the tryouts Coach Moore told us to go to a field where a track have been cut in the grass and he wanted to see if we could run a mile.  We all started out and players would drop out as they were tried and my friend and I ran five miles before stopping.  Coach Moore was so impressed but she had to explain that they were use to running at 6800-foot elevation she felt like it was cheating Ha Ha.

When I started with the Red Heads there were two teams, the first unit and my team was the new college edition my favorite teammate and our captain was Kay O’Bryan. We played in 42 states plus Mexico and Canada and played as many as ten games a week.  One game in particular we were warming up and none of our shots were falling through the hoop.  Coach Moore stopped us and called us to him and I will never forget what he said. Girls you are the All American Red Heads you are professional basketball players the best in the world and shooting like that is not acceptable. I picked you-you are the best- now go show everyone how good you really are. We went back to warming up and so many balls went into the net at the same time they had to get ladder to get them free. Could he motivate or what? 

I so enjoyed the fans-at one military base 3,000 of them. They always made you feel so proud and thankful for the great game.  At half-time I did a shot while doing the splits and the airplane which was bouncing the ball moving underneath it and catching it on the back of my neck.  Towards the end of our season I was asked to join the #1 unit (team) and finish their season.  I was so nervous, but was up to the task and performed well enough to have the center on the team ask if she wanted her job ha ha.  I believe playing professional ball for the Red Heads was just a dream, an impossible idea that girls could only think but never realize. When it did happen you were in so much disbelief that someone could have said just kidding and we would have said I thought so. There are not enough words to appropriately thank the Moore family, John Molina and so many others that did make huge dreams really come true and Linda will always walk just a little taller every time she thinks about the Red Heads.

Since my playing days I moved back home and taught at the jr. high level for two years before moving to the high school for eleven. I coached both JV and varsity levels in volleyball and basketball and did track. Every year and in every sport her teams went to the state playoffs and was named Coach of the Year eight times in all three sports.  I was also very proud to have earned three national coaching awards silver in volleyball and basketball and a gold in volleyball. Was chosen to coach the north south all star volleyball game and my north team swept the games winning for the first time in its history.  I was then the athletic director for four years for both boys and girls before moving to her local fire department where she still works as the administrative assistant going on twenty-one years.  Thank you Red Heads for giving me so much to remember think about and forever cherish. 

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Diane Martinson 1976-77
Born in 1953 in Washington, DC my sisters and I were raised by my Grandmother and Aunt. I was the youngest of three girls. We moved to Gary, Indiana when I was four years old.  Right across the street from our apartment was a large park. It was a kids dream,  a pool, playground, baseball diamond, tennis courts, sand box, and a whole lot of room to run. Grandmother would walk us across the street in the morning and when the street lights started to come at night we would have to be back. I tried every activity and sport that was offered or made up by my peers. When I was in the fifth grade I can remember telling my Grandmother I wanted to be a gym teacher. 
  
We moved  closer to the High School when I was twelve. It was a single family home, a large two story with a fenced in backyard.  Once we got there I headed for the back yard. Stepping through the wooden gate I just stood there with a big grin on my face. Half of the backyard was grass, the other separated by a bench, was cement. On the garage roof facing the house was a basketball hoop.  I had my own half-court surface that was completely enclosed.

From that moment on until  graduation from High School I spent countless hours shooting and dribbling. I would even cut out the fingertips of gloves so I could play in the winter. It was a lot easier controlling the ball and this way at  least the whole hand wouldn't freeze. 
  
The Girls Athletic Association, or GAA introdued me to organized basketball. At that time we played a six man rule. Some players could go full court and the rest had to stay on the same end. This was when I 
really fell in love with the game. I finally could apply all those skills I had been working on to achieve a goal with my teammates. My older sister and I made quite a tandem. She would run and I would shoot. If you would hear me tell it I would say we never lost a game. But then again? 
  
After High School I enrolled at the University of Wisconsin in Superior .That fall I went out for the basketball team. There were  a few eye openers. It was a five player team and you had to run full court!   Adjusting to the game came in time but I did learn one important thing about the game- conditioning, conditioning, conditioning! In my senior year of college I went to watch a game at the University of Minnesota, Duluth.

I saw a promotional poster advertising women playing men, both on the same playing field. Impressive!  It was my first look at the REDHEADS, and the fact that women could play beyond their college years. I never knew it was a possibility. Not only that, but two of the Redheads playing were players that I had played against in college.

That night I left the game with a lot of adrenaline flowing.  I wrote a letter to Mr. Orwell Moore, the Owner of Redheads, as soon as I got back to the dorm. I told him a little about myself and he invited me down to camp that summer. 
  
After graduation, I went down to Holly Springs, Miss. and worked out all summer. Shot a lot of  baskets,worked on my ball skills, conditioned,and learned Mr. Moore's philosophy and expectations. He also gave me the opportunity to work with some of the campers in the pool because I had my WSI. (Water Safety Instruction Certificate) 

That summer just flew by. I met a lot of the veteran players and prospective ball players while I was there. In the end he chose a girl from Maine and me  to join the team. I played the 1976 - 1977 season. Forty-four states in seven months, playing a game you LOVE to play. A dream and a chance of a lifetime. 
  
I have taught and coached basketball in the school systems in Minnesota since I played with the Redheads. I have worked the past twenty-five years in local youth organizations such as wrestling, track, softball, and basketball. 

I am honored and grateful to Mr. Moore for giving me a chance to perform and excell at a time when women had little or no opportunity to showcase their physical abilities among their peers. While pursuing his dream, he also showed the world  that women could achieve a high level of competitiveness in strenuous sports. He opened a door. One that will never be closed. 
 
 
 
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Gwen Reed 1978-1979


Born in Gillette, Wyoming on May 11, 1956

I started playing basketball in 1971 as a freshman at Campbell County High School in Gillette, Wyoming. I played all four years of high school. As women’s basketball was new to Wyoming, there were no all-state or all-conference teams.

From 1974-1978 I played for Chadron State College in Chadron, Nebraska. There were still no all-conference teams, but I made the very first all-state team for Nebraska. My scoring records held for twenty years before anyone bettered them. I was also one of the first two women inducted into the Chadron State College Athletic Hall of Fame. Since then there have been other women inducted, but Carol Bachmann Marxsen and I were the first two.


I played for “Moore’s All-American Redheads” for the 1978-1979 season. I was first invited to play by Mr. Moore when I was a sophomore in college. I wanted to finish my degree program before I played, so I wrote to Mr. Moore and asked him if I could contact him after I graduated. He agreed and the week before I received my diploma - I received a contract from Mr. Moore.


Playing for “Moore’s All-American Redheads” was an experience that I will treasure forever. To be in the best shape of your life, to play the game you love to play five times a week or more, to be able to make crowds smile, as we did in the comedy routines, and to also amaze them with our superior basketball handling and playing skills was an unforgettable experience. We lived and practiced high ideals. Life on the road was tough, but it is so rewarding to look back on all the memories we created there.


We dazzled, we amazed, we learned and we loved the game. There never has been nor ever will be an organization with such high ideals and goals, which shaped so many lives, not only ours, but the lives of all we came in contact with.


Fame, skill, challenge, showmanship, pride, passion, a winning attitude - - we experienced it all. We built character in each other and in ourselves.


We are champions! We played with dignity, with confidence, with mental alertness and superior attitudes. We learned how to be winners and champions on and off the court and we carry it into our lives today.


In the 1978-1979 season we played 143 games. We won 127 games and lost 16. I averaged 20 points per game and lead in assists. I also received an award for being the “Campbell County Athlete of the Year” in 1979.


Being a part of an organization like the Redheads was more than just an opportunity to play the game I love. It was more than just an opportunity to travel and see places and meet people. It was far more than just media exposure and hype.


Orwell Moore as the owner of the team believed in each one of us and he had a real talent for bringing out the best in each of us on the court. He believed we could perform, so we believed we could perform. When you are playing for someone who is 100% behind you and who is looking out for your best interests, it creates in you a desire to do your best for him and for the promotion of the game of basketball.


The Redheads provided a unique combination of entertainment and down to earth basketball. It was a time in my life that I will always cherish and I will always be proud to have been a part of such an outstanding reputable organization. I thank Orwell Moore for giving me the opportunity to make dreams come true for both myself and for the people we entertained.


Understanding what it means to listen effectively and how to follow orders and take direction, as well as understanding what it means to be a team player - have been invaluable skill for my business career. Also, being privileged to coach, I was able to develop skills which have helped me to be a better manager and to be able to think ahead, set goals and to think quickly to solve both long term problems and crisis situations. I have learned what it means to face opponents who are stronger and more experienced and to be able to come out a winner and I am wiser for having the experience. I have learned to love challenges and to incorporate change into my life with enthusiasm and a desire to make it the best situation in my life. I love challenges and I understand what it means to be dedicated, to believe in myself and others, and to know what giving 100% in all I do means.

I have been blessed by being allowed to live my dream of playing professional basketball. I know how to face defeat without having it beat me down and how to come back even stronger. I know how to learn from my mistakes and I know what pitfalls to expect and how to avoid being overtaken by them. I understand what team and family mean in a way I never would have had I not had the sports experience. I’ve learned when to move onto other avenues and how to promote others to give them the limelight and to help them to be the best that they can be. By incorporating the experiences and lessons I have learned from playing sports, I am a better person. God is good! I have ultimate faith in Him and I know that my ability is a gift from Him that I have been blessed with so that I can give it to others. 

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Lisa Livingston 1981-1982

I was born in Fayetteville, North Carolina. I have 3 brother's and 2 sister's. I have a twin sister, Amy.    
  
 
I started playing basketball when I was eight years old on an outside asphalt court at the Boy's Club of America on Cumberland Road. Hollis B. Harris was the Executive Director and Ronnie Ross was his Manager. I wasn't allowed inside the Boy's Club to begin with but could play outside. Although I played all sports, basketball was my favorite. I must have got that from my Mama, Carolyn, who was a basketball star in high school.
 
I would play ball at the club with the boy's. Soon Coach Harris, as we all called him, would allow me to go in the club for an hour a day. It wasn't long before I had unlimited time and was given a membership. I was the first girl allowed in the Boy's Club of America. After becoming a member I tried out for the boy's basketball team and made it. I was on the starting five. We would play our team games in the National Guard Armory.
 
My school day's were also filled with basketball. In elementary school I would play basketball during every recess with the boy's. I went to Massey Hill Jr. High School where I was a starter and played for three year's. I attended Douglas Byrd Sr. High School for three year's and also started. I was named All State and All Conference for two year's. After graduating from high school I attended the University of North Carolina at Wilmington and Fayetteville State University on basketball scholarship's.
 
In 1981 the Red Head's called me to play for them and I was on my way to Arkansas within a week. I arrived in Caraway, Arkansas and was greeted by Coach Orwell Moore. I am not a natural redhead but Coach Moore gave me a bottle of "Clairol 33s Flame" and I soon became one.
 
While playing with the Red Head's we went to 30 states and Canada. We traveled by a van so I was able to see a lot  of this great country. I met some great people along the way.
 
I had the pleasure of playing with a great group of girl's. They were Kathy Smith O'Brien, Janet Grady, Susan Callahan, Mary Benton and Sandy Christ.  We were coached by Cheryl Clark. Our record was 124-12.
 
Not only a player for the team, I also became the team comedian.
 
Playing for the Red Head's was an honor. It was a job that I loved. I now have some of the best memories I will cherish for life. I would like to thank Mr. and Mrs. Moore for allowing my childhood dream of playing professional basketball to come true.
 
God Bless You.

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Kathy (Smith) O’Brien 1981-1983 

I grew up playing basketball on the playgrounds of Durham, NC. I started playing organized ball in the 8th grade through the Durham Parks and Recreation Department.  I played for Durham High School my junior and senior years and then played one year at the University of North Carolina – Wilmington.

I first heard about the Red Heads through a friend, Janet Grady, who was playing for the Red Heads while I was a sophomore in college.  Janet got me in touch with Mr. Moore and my dream to become a professional basketball player began.

The two years I played for the Red Heads were two of the best years of my life. I got up each morning and could not believe my good fortune of being able to travel this great country and play basketball with a wonderful bunch of ladies.

Our record the first season I played was 124-12, and our record the second season was 137-6. During the second season we had won 48 games in a row until I jinxed the team by eating chicken livers before the game. We went on to win the remaining 47 games of the season and I have not eaten another chicken liver to this day.

I was lucky enough to play for Coach Cheryl Clark my first year who taught me many things both on and off the court. One of the most important things Coach Clark instilled in me was what it meant to be a part of something bigger than oneself. She always challenged me to be better on and off of the court, and helped me to realize I could accomplish things I never dreamed of. Many of the things I learned from Coach Clark I still use today.

I am forever grateful to Mr. Moore for teaching me, along with countless other Red Head players, the four D’s: Dedication, Discipline, Desire, and Determination. Mr. Moore also taught me something equally as important as the four D’s and that was the word “can’t” is not in the Red Head’s vocabulary. In the words of Mr. Moore, “Don’t say I can’t, say I’ll try.” Listening to Mr. Moore speak those word gave me a confidence to try a variety of things in life rather than to be content to sit on the sidelines.

After finishing two fun filled years with the Red Heads I returned to college and received a BA in Criminal Justice and a BA in Sociology. I also received a master degree in Criminal Justice. I have been employed in Law Enforcement for 25 years and I have been employed as a Special Agent with the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation for the past 21 years.

I married my husband, Pat O’Brien, in 1993 and introduced him to the American Southwest that I fell in love with while playing for the Red Heads. We traveled all over the US together until his passing in 2010.

I am very thankful Mr. and Mrs. Moore gave me the opportunity to play for the Red Heads. I am also forever grateful to all of the Red Heads who played before me for paving the way for me to realize my dream. 

 

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Jo Ann Boone 1985-1986

My name is Jo Ann Boone-Clements and I played for the All American Red Heads in the final season of 1985-1986. I was born in Richwood, WV on December 24, 1963. I didn’t start playing organized basketball until the 9th grade at Crichton Jr. High School, and still held the schools’ records in track for Shot Put and Discus when they recently changed to the middle school system. In High School at Greenbrier West I also set records in Shot Put and Discus, still holding the ­­­­­­­­­­­­Discus record today. There, I set records in the State Girls’ Basketball Tournament in 1981 for rebounds in a game and for the tournament. And to this day I still hold the single game record at 29 rebounds and tournament average at 24.5 rebounds and our team still holds records as a result.

After High school, I was recruited by the late Bud Francis to play basketball for the University of Charleston. I played two seasons, taking part in the historic game against West Virginia who recorded the first official female dunk in a college game in 1984, before receiving a phone call from Orwell Moore. He said he had gotten my name from a basketball coach in WV and thought I would be a good fit for the All American Red Heads. Mr. Moore said it would be the 50th and final season, the only season his son, Burnie, would coach, and he wanted me to be a part of the history. Orwell sent me a packet with Red Heads memorabilia, a contract, and a bus ticket to Arkansas. It was hard to leave Bud and UC after the opportunity they gave me (as playing professionally for the All American Red Heads would render me ineligible to play on the college level), but this was a chance to be a part of women’s basketball history, so I got on a Greyhound and headed for the Moore home in Arkansas.         

In October, 1985 we began practicing in 3 hour sessions, 3 times a day. So 9 hours a day we learned the piggy-back play, through-legs act, knee shots, and all the other plays that made the redheads famous. We did this for two weeks before we hit the road. We played around 120 games, winning all but 6 or 7. We played all over the country; one night in Florida, the next night in North Carolina, then even as far north as Maine, where all of us girls cooked our own Thanksgiving dinner in the kitchens of the cottages we were staying in, it was our only day off until the few days we would take off for Christmas. We played against all male teams of fireman, policeman, politicians, and any other team of men that wanted to put on our show. There was the occasional man or team who would get fired up and upset about being beaten by a group of “female globetrotters”, but for the most part we played for large crowds with lots of children who wanted our autographs and treated us like celebrities.         

Today I live in Virginia with my husband, our children, and grandchildren. I still love basketball and many sports and enjoy the friendly athletic rivalry between my Virginia family and my WV roots. I am so proud to have been a part of the history that is the All American Red Heads and am happy to see the teams and the late, great Orwell Moore getting the recognition they deserve.

 


Mechelle (Pollard) Weyer 1985-1986

My name is Mechelle Pollard Weyer, I played with the All American Redheads in 85-86.  

I started playing basketball as a young girl while in the 5th grade, at Caraway Elementary.  We played 3 on 3 back half-court.  

I didn't start playing full court until 7th grade.  It was 1979 and a whole new world opened up to me.  Coach Troy Case, believed in a up tempo, fast paced game.  Therefore, we did a lot of running and I began to learn all the basic fundamentals .  

In the 9th grade Coach Danny Dunigan, took us to an undefeated season of 20-0.  When I was in the 11-12 grade of high school, I earned all conference and all district honors.  I received awards for most rebounds, and most assist.  

After graduation in 1985, I received a scholarship to Mississippi County Community College in Blytheville, AR were I earned a starting position, but only got to play a half of semester due to my father's illness.  

In December of 1985, Mr. Moore contacted me about playing  for the Redheads.  I met up with the girls in Albuquerque, New Mexico.  At that time we had practiced 3 times a day for 3 hours a time.  We played every night of the week with very little time for ourselves.  We traveled all the lower 48 states that year. 

At the young age of 17 I got to see places I never would have seen or got to go if it hadn't been for the Moore's.  We ended our season that year back in Cassville, Missouri, which was where the Redheads were originally formed.  Back then we got paid $500.00 dollars a month, which seemed like a lot to a small town girl.  

Who would have thought a year with the of traveling and playing the game I loved playing would turn into a life time of memories, and find me a place in the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame.  

My career ended as a Redhead that year, because The Moore's decided not to have a traveling team in 1987, which was very sad for me because I wanted to continue my journey as a Redhead and a basketball player. 

Marla Carroll 1985-86  

In 1985 I was young, only 17, just graduated from Caraway High School.  Mom and Dad got me a job as a nurse’s aide in the nursing home in Monette.  I was there for two weeks when Mr. Moore called.  My parents said yes for me because I was at work.  That was ok because I wanted to join the team.  The very next day I was on a bus to North Carolina.  So young and so scared.  Burnie and the girls picked me up and off we went.  It was late so we found a hotel and slept for the night.  Early the next morning I had a chance to get out on the court with the girls to learn their game plays.  That night, as a new member of the All American Redheads, I put on my uniform and stepped onto the court.  To this day I remember the opening jump ball of my first game.  The ball was tipped in my direction and I went for it with everything I had.  I was tripped up and hit the floor hard.  My face was as red as my hair and the rest of the game was a blur.

We traveled and played for about a month before our first break.  We stayed in Caraway for a few days.  It was at that time I had the privilege of meeting and learning from Lorene (Butch) Moore.  The Moore’s had a large garage, we used it on that rainy day, and this is where I learned the 4 woman dribble.  “Sweet!”

At one point during the middle of our season, Michelle Pollard, A former classmate and teammate on my High School Basketball team joined us.  Yes! someone I know!  Off we go again playing on a different court every night and sometimes 2 games a day.  A few of my favorite things were signing autographs, meeting and talking with our fans, and those most heard words, “ they're here, they're here, and they all have red hair!”

I was and still am so very proud of the All American RedHeads.  For me to have been a part of something so educational, so life changing, and bigger than I ever imagined, there are no words.

To my All American RedHead teammates, Mr. Moore, and our coach Burnie More, thank you from the bottom of my heart

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Sandra Berry 1992

 Hello, my name is Sandra Berry.  I am from Caraway, Arkansas.  My first coach was my Dad.  He taught me how to play basketball and softball at an early age.  I think I was 6 years old when I started to play

In the 9th grade, our team went undefeated.  Our record was 25-0.  From the 9th grade through the 12th we had a record of 95 wins and 21 losses.  I made the All-Conference team 5 years, The All NEA tournament as a Junior and Senior, was district MVP and recieved the most assists award as a senior. Our senior year we were conference and district runners-up and won the Paul Hoffman Sportsmanships trophy at the NEA tournament.

Growing up in Caraway, I learned alot about the Red Heads.  When I would pass by Coach Moore's and see the limo there, I would get so excited.... the Red Heads were back in town!!!  At school I would see them go into the old gym and would always make sure I got over there to watch them do their drills and practice plays.  I loved it!!   I knew then that I wanted to be one of them!!  My dream was to play professional basketball.

While in High School, I went to a few summer basketball camps held at Valley View Ar.  There I have the privilage of playing for TWO Red Heads Coaches...Coach Orwell Moore and Coach Jack Moore.  What a thrill that was!!  I loved them both.  I learned so much from them, and not all of it was about basketball.  That's where I first learned about the 4 D's of life. ....Desire, Dicipline, Determination and Dedication

I played softball with a couple of Red Heads alumni, Marsha Tate and Karen Riggs Dowty.  Besides being great basketball players, there were really good at softball.  They were great teammates and a lot of fun to be around.

I went to school and played basketball with two Red Heads from the 1985-86 team, Mechelle Pollard Weyer and Marla Carroll.  I had already signed to play ball in collegeI didnt get the chance to continue playing with them.  I thought my dreamwas lost when I found out that would be the last team.  Then in 1992, I got a message that Coach Moore wanted to talk to me.  I called him and he told me that a book was in the works and there was some talk of a movie being made about the Red Heads.  He wanted to promote the team and get people talking about the Red Heads.  He asked if I would be interested in playing.  I thought he was kidding me, but he assured me he was serious.  I told him, "You bet I want to play!".  He said we would only be playing games close to home.  We got out uniforms and had a photographercome in and take pictures.  I have to say that was the first time I put on my uniform  and couldnt stop grinning and didn't want to take if off.  I wondered which great players had worn it before....I mean, so much history!!!  My dream was finally coming true!  It was an amazing feeling.

It was kind of hard for our players to get together at the same time to practice.  Some were going to school and others were working. Some of us hadn't even played any basketball for in years, but we made it happen.  We only played about 15 games but we won all but one of them and only lost it by 1 point.  My teammates were Karen Riggs Dowty, Paula Gragg, Angela Reed Dunigan, Jamie Pace, Kristi Pack and Julie Boles. We had 2 others that only played a game or two, their names are Sonia Schoolfield and Kim Wright.  It was such a thrill just putting on the Red Heads uniform, then to have kids AND adults ask you for an autograph....wow!!

I want to thank the Moore's and all of the amazing women who put on the uniforms for starting it all.  Without you, I wouldnt have had the chance to play the game I love.

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 Jamie Pace 1992-1993
Hello my name is Jamie Pace and I'm from Black Oak,AR. This is a neighboring town to Caraway,AR which is the hometown of Coach Orwell Moore. I remember at a very young age the All-American Redheads playing a game in Monette,AR. I was star struck at watching all the players showing off their skills. That's when I knew I wanted to play the game of basketball. 

I started playing basketball and softball at the age of 6 or 7. My dad coached my elementary basketball team from 4-5 grades. We went undefeated both years. Then I thought my world was coming to an end because we didn't have enough girls to play my 6th grade year. They considered me playing on the boys team but that fell through. My parents went to the school board and they allowed me to go to school at Buffalo Island Central and play ball for Caraway Riverside. I was very nervous because I always played against them so I wasn't sure how this was going to go. We only lost one game that year and we all became very close friends.
 

My sophomore year of high school we won the NEA tournament. My junior year our team was district champions and I was selected for the all tournament team. My senior year I was selected for the NEA all tournament team, all district team and all state honorable mention. I still hold the NEA tournament free throw record for hitting 11 of 11 in one game. My junior and senior year I won the free throw award at our team banquet. My senior year I also won the field gold, rebound and charge awards. 

My dream was to play college ball and got a few offers but didn't want to be far from home. I decided to walk on at ASU in Jonesboro, AR, and worked very hard and made the team. Then I made my first adult decision and I quit because nursing school was too difficult to continue playing. In 1992 Coach Moore contacted me to play with The All-American Redheads. It didn't take me long to tell him YES! I remember Coach Moore watching me play when I was in elementary all the way through high school. He came to my parents when I was in the 6th grade wanting to take me to a basketball camp at Valley View,AR. Coach Moore picked me up at home everyday and took me to camp. I learned about the 4 D's of life...... Desire, Discipline, Determination, and Dedication. I used these in several aspects of my life. Thank you Coach Moore for everything you taught me!

Now I live in the Memphis,TN area and still love the game. I do not play anymore but I still pick up a ball and shoot on an occasion. It brings back so many amazing memories when I do. I want to take this time to thank my parents for all their support through the years. They never missed a game. Also I want to thank Coach Orwell Moore for everything he did for women's basketball. He did it! We are members of the Basketball Hall of Fame because all of his dedication.

Copyright 2011 John A. Molina