Barnstorming America, Stories from the Pioneers of Women's Basketball

Molly "Machine Gun" Bolin

Molly "Machine Gun" Bolin



Some great videos of Machine Gun Molly

Molly breaks single game professional scoring mark (54 pts) - 1980 - WBL

Machine Gun Molly vs Nancy Lieberman (WABA 1984)

Molly on NBC Sports Journal - 1984

Molly speaking at the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame

One of the true pioneers (that belongs in the The Women's Basketball Hall of Fame and The Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame ) in the history of women's basketball, Molly Bolin Kazmer, was also the first player signed to a contract in the first Women's Professional Basketball League in the United States. In 1978 the Women's Pro Basketball League was launched by founder Bill Byrne, and existed for three seasons before folding. But it was "Machine Gun Molly" who set a precedent for female athletes in the sport with her high scoring abilities on the court and tireless efforts off the court in promoting Women's

Molly began playing basketball after moving to Moravia, Iowa (pop. 700) while in the fifth grade. Iowa has a long history of girls high school basketball and enjoyed tremendous popularity with the six on six rules that the girls played until the 1980s. She played on her junior high team at Moravia and attended her first basketball camp the summer before she started high school. In her first game as a junior, she scored 63 points on her 16th birthday. It was just the beginning as she averaged 50.4 ppg as a junior and 54.8 per game as a senior. Molly scored over 70 points in a thirty-two minute game five times and set a single game scoring record of 83 points. She would finish with 1370 points for the season, also a school record. She was selected as a High School All-American and was invited to try out for the Pan Am team.(in preparation for the 1976 Olympics coached by Cathy Rush) Even though she had never before played a full-court game, she was selected to attend the Final Trials.

Molly was recruited to Grandview College in Des Moines, Iowa, and went on to set several records and lead her team to it's first national tournament appearance. Molly only played two seasons at Grandview but after the first season she married Dennie Bolin and returned a year later after her son, Damien, was born. Molly graduated in 1978 with a degree in telecommunications.



The Iowa Cornets were the first team in the WBL and they signed Molly to a contract in the office of then Iowa Governor, Robert Ray in June of 1978. She struggled early on to find her place on the team, then broke out to score 53 points in one game and set a league record in mid-season. She played in the first WBL All-Star game held at the Felt Forum in New York City, then led her Iowa team to a league championship play-off with the Houston Angels. Houston would win the best of 5 series, 3 games to 2. Molly was selected to the WBL's All-Pro Team.

During the first regular season, Molly would average 16.7 ppg and lead the Cornets into the playoffs. Although known as a deadly shooter already, few know that she is just as deadly at the free throw line shooting 77% for the entire season (2nd in league)

In the playoffs Iowa would beat the Chicago Hustle 2 games to one before losing 3-2 to the Houston Angels for the first WBL title. Of the 2 teams to play for the championship, Molly would lead both teams with a playoff scoring average of 19.6.


In the second season of the WBL, the league expanded from 8 to 14 teams and Molly truly stepped into the spotlight as a star player.

The Iowa team centered their offense around her and she responded by leading the league in scoring with a 32.8 ppg average. Over a 36 game season, she totaled 1179 pts
(Editors note: An ALL TIME for professional womens basketball). She would be 3rd in the league in free throws this season with a .791 average.

She also had several record breaking performances that season with single games of 50,54 and 55 points. She also scored an incredible 38 points in one half, a league record she matched several times.

Molly was also a very tough player that didn't want to come out of any game. In a key game against Minnesota, she left the game early in the second quarter with a separated shoulder. While the Iowa coach was thinking his play-off hopes were over because of her injury, Molly insisted on returning to the game a short time later and had the best game of her career in a big win for Iowa. She scored 55 pts, had 9 rebounds, 11 assists and even blocked a shot.

A sportswriter from the Washington Post tagged her with the nickname, Machine Gun Molly, after witnessing "her rapid-fire ability to score points," and soon other teams in the league followed suit.

For the second year, the Iowa Cornets won the Midwest Division to advance to the Championship playoffs against the New York Stars and their coach, Dean "The Dream" Meminger. Game 3 in the series was held at Grandview College (in Des Moines) and Dean was prepared to stop Molly with his box and 1 defense. With the Cornets down 0-2, Molly thrilled the hometown crowd and scorched the nets with 49 points to keep Iowa alive. The New York Stars beat the Iowa Cornets for the league Championship, however, once again it was Molly that stood up during the playoffs. In the 7 playoff games she would appear in (Iowa would beat the Minnesota Fillies 2-1), Molly would score an avg of 33.1 ppg with a .515 field goal percentage. She would up her free throw percentage to 81.7 percent during the games.


The Minnesota Fillies were Iowa's biggest rival in the Midwest Division during the second season. Molly was a player who stepped up in the big games as evident in her stats against the Fillies that year. In five games she scored 203 points for an average of 40.6 ppg while shooting .561% from the floor and .822% from the line.

Molly was named to the All-Pro first team and was the WBL's Co-MVP with Ann Meyers who played her first and only season with the New Jersey Gems. Although the Cornets led the league in attendance, the team folded after two seasons after a failed transfer of ownership.

It was during this second season that Molly became a crowd favorite around the league and a darling of the media. She was given endorsements and her photos, printed on posters, t-shirts and flyers were in demand throughout the league. What started as an idea to supplement her income turned into a successful promotion and marketing tool for the league.


In the summer of 1980, Molly was lured to Southern California to play in a newly formed women's league, the Ladies Professional Basketball League (LPBA) She was without a team and the league was slow to decide how to disperse the players. The concept of the LPBA was to have a league that could survive by lowering expenses, with teams all based in the southwest region. However, lack of funding and quality players sunk the league after only seven games into the season. Molly averaged just over 40 ppg for the Southern California Breeze team and made a splash with the media with photos that were taken on the beach with her in a one piece swimsuit. She was looking for a different image than she had in Iowa and succeeded in shattering the stereotype the public had of a female basketball player.

In January 1981 Molly began fielding offers from every team in the WBL and soon agreed to play for the San Francisco Pioneers. It was not an easy transition as the WBL was already well into the season, but the Pioneers also signed Dean Meminger to coach and the team was being restructured to accomodate Molly. Several of the Iowa Cornets were also brought to the San Francisco team and it proved to be a winning combination.


Molly was added to the roster of the third WBL All-Star game that also featured Nancy Lieberman and Carol Blazjowski.

Molly would help lead the West to a 125-92 win over the East by leading all scorer's with 29 points. NLC and Blaze would end up with 20 each.

Meminger had a plan to make Molly a more complete player by having her expend less energy on offense. After witnessing her performance in the 3rd All-Star game, he pulled her aside and gave her the green light to score at will. She responded by averaging over 33 ppg after the All-Star break to finish with a season average of 27...second only to Blazejowski. She was featured in the April 1981 issue of Sports Illustrated and was on her way to a great career. However, it was not to be. In the third season, the WBL underwent major changes and Commissioner Bill Byrne was replaced by Sherwin Fischer. The league was in need of
corporate sponsorship and television contracts and exposure to survive. The owners were buried with the expenses of supporting teams that traveled coast to coast and their major source of revenue were the gate receipts. By the fall of 1981, it was obvious that all the re-organization efforts could not save the Women's Basketball League.

Machine Gun Molly may have been the biggest casualty of the collapse of the WBL. She was at the top of her game and was making huge strides in breaking into the sports marketing arena, where women athletes were just beginning to get endorsement opportunities. At the same time, her marriage ended and she was forced to turn down all offers to play professionally in Europe because of a custody dispute over her son, Damien, then only four years old. It was a very difficult time, as she initially lost custody in a small Iowa courtroom as her basketball career was used against her. However, she appealed to the Supreme Court and won unanimously in a precedent setting case. She moved permanently to Southern California and spent the next 2 1/2 years supporting herself by renovating homes. It was obvious that all the re-organization efforts or a
business cash advance business cash advance could not save the Women's Basketball League.
Without a women's professional league, Molly soon found herself playing pick-up games in rec centers and regularly played in local men's leagues. She won more than a few bets in the rec centers going in as a ringer, before her reputation began to precede her. But her big break came in 1984 when she received an invitation to play in an Olympic Exhibition Series as a member of the USA All-Star team. The team was composed of many former Olympians, most of whom were on the 1980 Olympic Team that boycotted. Molly did not have the opportunity to play on a Olympic basketball team as she turned pro in 1978 and they did not allow pros to compete until 1988.

Article on Iowa Cornets by Andy Crossley


This team was coached by Sun Gunter and assisted by Jody Conradt. Other players besides Molly (bottom row) were Nancy Lieberman, Carol Blazejowski, Holly Warlick (all Hall of Famers) along with Gail Marquis (previous WBL all star)

The coaches were looking for the best players they could find in order to tune up the 1984 Women' s Olympic Basketball Team that eventually went on to win the gold medal.
They played three exhibition games in July 1984, including doubleheaders with the USA men's team playing against NBA stars.

The last exhibition held in the Indianpolis Hoosierdome (with Larry Bird and Isiah Thomas on the roster) was touted as "The World's Largest Indoor Basketball Game" with over 67,500 in attendance.

In the fall of 1984, Bill Byrne launched his second Women's Pro Basketball League - this time called the WABA, (Women's American Basketball Association) with hopes of capitalizing on the success of the Women's Olympic Team.

Molly was thrilled to get a chance to resume her professional basketball career. Before the season began, she filmed a Spalding basketball commercial with Larry Bird and was featured in a story broadcast on NBC's Sportsworld, and in the LA Times.

However, Byrne did not have the league in full organization and Molly waited weeks to find out where she would be playing. She ended up in Columbus, Ohio to play for the Columbus Minks. By all accounts, it was a difficult situation, Byrne had gambled on securing his financing after showing investors he had a viable league, but it did not pay off and the players did not have their contracts honored.
The WABA struggled through a 17 game "season" and did not survive.

Molly gave it her best shot in hopes of keeping women's professional basketball alive. However, she was injured during the Olympic Exhibition Tour with a separated shoulder in a collision with Lynette Woodard. The injury had not healed before she began playing for the Minks and she reinjured her shoulder twice more before deciding to take a break to rehabilitate.

Molly played in only nine games for the Columbus Minks averaging 9 points in 17 minutes per game. However, she showed flashes from her days in the WBL, exciting the crowd with her long range jumpers and having another memorable match up with Nancy Lieberman, who played for Dallas.

Molly returned to California to begin rehabilitation on her shoulder, again facing the possibility that her pro career was over.

Note: Molly has an upcoming nomination to the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame. Please show your support of her nomination by sending an email to the links.

Columbus Minks - article by Andy Crossley


In March of 1986, Molly was inducted into the Iowa Basketball Hall of Fame as the only player inducted whose team did not play in the State Tournament. She had spent the last couple of years promoting women's basketball by appearing at camps, clinics, and working in booths at the National Sporting Goods Shows and at the Women's College Final Four Tournaments. It was at the Final Four in 1986 that Molly was approached to help launch a new league, the National Women' s Basketball Association (WNBA). She was ready and willing as always to do what she could to help. This league hoped to survive by having central ownership of all the teams and Molly passed on the opportunity to play in order to be more involved in the management of the league. She had hoped to steer the league clear of past difficulties. She was named as the Assistant Commissioner of the NWBA and she held several press conferences to promote the league and Women's Pro Basketball. But the NWBA never got off the ground. In 1988, Bill Byrne contacted Molly with his ideas for another league. Once again she tried to help by meeting with several potential owners for the league, some of whom were owners in the NBA. But the league never materialized and Molly continued playing basketball in men's leagues and pick up games and appearing at camps. In 1989, she married John Kazmer, who was a Division I player under coaches Jerry Tarkanian and Lute Olson.

Another opportunity in basketball did not arise until 1995 when she was hired by Liberty Sports to promote women's professional basketball. Liberty was involved with the WBA league that played three seasons in the mid 1990's and Molly approached them with an idea of creating a three on three tournament for televison in order to make the public more aware of the top players in women's basketball. Once again she travelled to the College Final Four Tournaments, NSGA Shows and to the 1996 Olympic Trials. Molly met with the President of Liberty Sports to discuss their interest in expanding the WBA to a national Women's Pro Basketball League. However, during this time, the current womens' pro league, the WNBA made announcements of their formation and near the same time, Liberty Sports was taken over by Fox Sports. Molly considered pursuing a career with the WNBA, but instead decided to stay home to raise her son Casey, now 9, and daughter Kenzie, now 5 years old. In 1999 she was inducted into the Grandview College Athletic Hall of Fame in Des Moines, IA.

During her days as a professional basketball player, Molly proved herself among the best with her peers, Nancy Lieberman, Carol Blazjowski and Ann Meyers. She excelled in the sport through many adversities and never gave up on making Women's Pro Basketball in the United States a reality. As one of the best offensive players in the women's game - she established scoring records that may never be broken. The records set by the pioneers in the sport should be recognized by the WNBA.

Machine Gun Molly was a player who was ahead of her time. One can only wonder what she would have done in today's game with a closer three- point line and the sensation she would have created in the sports marketing world. She was an inspiration and role model to many at a time when women's athletics was just on the rise. Her attractive appearance and personality made her a favorite of the press and of the fans. She filled her off-court hours with interviews and promotional appearances knowing she was in a position to help increase the attendance figures that were so crucial to the league's success. She always made time for the fans, signing every last autograph and encouraging the young female players that came to watch her play.

But most importantly, Molly Bolin Kazmer was always the first to step up to promote a future for women's pro basketball and gave it all she had, often without any personal gain and often with personal sacrifices. She is a true pioneer in women's basketball, and should be remembered as such.
Molly has been a Realtor since 2001 and along with her husband, John, created Shot Camp Academy Professional School of Basketball Development. They have held many basketball camps and clinics over the years and gave private shooting instruction to many top players in the area. Then four years ago, it branched into Shot Camp Academy After School Program at Palm Desert Charter Middle School where they incorporated many of the character building programs from years of basketball instruction into a very successful and unique after school program.  Molly & John have two children in high school, Casey & Kenzie, and enjoy making a difference in the lives of middle school students.



78-79 34 220-510 .431 127-165 .770 97 567 16.7 53
79-80 36 486-1031 .471 201-254 .791 96 1179 32.8 55
80-81 27 277-613 .452 168-216 .778 98 723 26.8 46

TOTALS 97 983-2154 .456 496-635 .781 291 2469 25.5

LPBA - Unofficial Stats - 5 games - 205 pts -
41.0 ppg Ave. HI - 47pts
Southern California Breeze



1984 9 * 32-82 .39 17-32 .53 9 81 9.0 19

** The Minks played 17 games - Molly joined the team
late and was unable to play more games due to injuries.

Copyright 2008 John A. Molina