Saturday, September 14, 2013

Sports Saturday--My Mother Was a "Jock"

My Mother Was a "Jock"

More often in a family it is the father who is a sports fan and played sports at some level during his school years.  That was definitely true in my family; however, it also applied to my mother.  I still recall when I was playing in a youth softball league at the age of about 12, our team coaches were my mother and her best friend from High School, who was also the mother of one of the other players on the team.  Ironically, our team, coached by two moms, also happened to have the best record in the league!  They not only coached, they demonstrated how to hit, field and throw.  The term "you throw like a girl",  did not apply to my mom and Florence (nor to many other women) .  They could throw the ball as well (or better) than any boy on the team.  

My mom and her sister, Frances, still have several tennis trophies in the Las Animas High School Trophy Cases.  In fact, I need to ask my brother to go to the school to photograph and record the information on all of their trophies.  However, neither softball or tennis was her best.  

Basketball was her best sport.  Her girls High School team won the state championship two of her four years in High School, they went to the National Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) Tournament and were beaten by only four points by a Junior College Team.  In that tournament she placed third in the free throw shooting contest by making 18 of 25 free throws--a percentage Shaq O'Neill would have been very happy with (he was a notoriously bad free throw shooter).  Over an eight year period, the last two of which my mother played, the Las Animas Girls Team won 161 games and lost eight.  In all but one of the years, they lost a maximum of one game.  

State Champions 1931

My mother is on the right end of the front row above, her sister is 2nd from left in the back row and "Swede" is 2nd from the right in the back row.  "Swede" was selected as an All-American at the AAU tournament.  Hazel White, is next to my mother and is in the below picture with my mom and "Swede".  

On Friday nights when the High School teams played their games, the boys team played the preliminary game and the Girls Team played the second (featured) game.  

When she, her sister and one of the other players graduated from High School they were recruited by a Woman's AAU team in Denver.  While playing for that team they won the Denver City Championship and went to the National Girls Tournament in Wichita, Kansas.  My mother is third from the left in the back row, her sister is on the right end in the front row, and "Swede" is in the front center.   

Bonnie Beauty School--Denver
Interestingly, sports in those days were no different than today.  I have a Denver Post Newspaper clipping by one of the sports writers reporting that rumors were circulating in Denver that some of the young ladies playing for the various beauty schools in the Denver AAU league were "receiving scholarships in the beauty schools for their graceful and effective antics on the basketball courts".  Since it was an amateur league, any type of compensation for the players would have made the players ineligible.  I never had the chance to ask my mother if she was one of those who received a scholarship; but I am almost certain that she, "Swede" and many others did.    

Below are my mom, Hazel White and "Swede" Thaxton about thirty years later.

I was a fairly good athlete throughout my school years and a Baseball Scholarship helped me get through college; but I certainly can't say that it was solely due to my father's genes.  My mom definitely contributed her fair share!