The love of the game

800px-Basketball_through_hoopBy Dana Hart


We receive correspondence from many guests about their visit to the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame, but we received a letter in the last month that tells the story of how the game has changed. We hope you enjoy the letter as we have and that you will share your stories with us, for the love of the game.

So many women in the past had to fight for the right to play the game… My best friend from Ole Miss was on the first ladies’ team. It took a lawsuit and Title IX to make it happen. Their colors were baby blue and yellow. Hardly Ole Miss Colors! They drove themselves in a van that held all players and the coach only if someone sat on the ice chest in the middle. They didn’t stay in hotels. They slept at a friend of a friend’s house on the floor. All for the love of the game. This was only in the 70’s!

My story, I was at a private university in Searcy, Arkansas. I had mono and couldn’t play for the team. I then began nursing school; however, when I registered to take basketball as an elective for one of three required Phys Ed classes, I was told that girls didn’t get to take basketball, only guys. I was a shy young girl from the country who loved, lived and breathed basketball: that was me. I fought for a spot. I had to meet with three (then intimidating men) but stood my ground. I got to take the class. Now it’s offered to women every semester, no big deal. I’m not bragging. I’m just sharing with someone who might care. Sometimes it’s not about playing to be on “the team” and enjoy perks that go with that– it’s about a pure love of playing basketball.

My tiny school where I grew up didn’t have a girls’ team until I was in 8th grade around 1981-82. I remember starting a petition in 6th grade to get to have a team who competes with schools in our district. It was on a piece of notebook paper. My friends and I got so many signatures only to be told, “Girls don’t play basketball”… That only added fuel to my fire, my desire to play and watch girls and women compete. My little petition made no difference at my school but it taught me to fight for something I love and for the right to get to do something, Even though I was a girl. It was good for me and still inspires me today at 47 years old to continue to “fight for the right” in everything worthy.

I cannot wait to visit the WBHOF this year and see more history of the game and the women who fought to pave the way to make it easy to play for a team if you want and can. It’s all about the fire that burns today, started and ignited by young girls and women across the country.

Thanks for letting me share how pure love of the game led young women across the country to fight for what we have today. We’ve come a long way, baby.

Keri Lewis



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