by Helen Nolden
Girls basketball first made its appearance in Anamoose High School in the 1918-1920s era. They wore dark blue, below the knee, bloomer-type uniforms with a Navy motif. They played by the old rules, having six girls on a team. It was a very slow game, although there were some scrimmages too.
Back then, they didn’t have the bus facilities that we have today, so the teams played other teams in towns that had settled along the Soo Line Railroad line. When they had an out-of-town game, the girls would gather at the depot platform. On cold days, they could spend time in the waiting room. The girls had to carry their equipment with them, as can be seen in the very old photos. We aren’t sure of the names of the whole team, but the names of Esther Mantz, Mary Nitz and Sophie Rudnick come to mind. Their schedules weren’t anywhere near what we have today.
In the 30s, they still didn’t have buses, so a lot of people from the community would volunteer their time, cars, and themselves as chauffeurs. I can still se the long caravans of cars heading for one of the neighboring towns for a girls basketball game.
I recall, at a tournament that was held in Balfour in 1935, the Anamoose Royals won the silver cup. It is still on display in the grade showcase at school. At that tourney, they had a free throw contest. Ardis Thurow and Minnie Rice were the stars of that show. Forrest Swisher was their coach. Ardis and Leona jumped center. Minie, Esther and Katherine were quite the scrappers on the ‘35 team.
Back in the 30s, the girls wore blue bloomer-type uniforms, worn a few inches above the knee. They had their names self-embroidered on the front, with their numbers on the back. They wore ankle high tennis shoes most of them had borrowed from a brother or a friend, thus bringing a variety of colors and scroungy shoes. In this period of time, the girls had to see that they had their own equipment.
When I played basketball back in the 40s, we were still playing with six girls on a team. We played what everyone laughingly called “girls rules”. We had three forwards and three guards, as did the opposing team. While six girls (three opponent guards and three home forwards) were battling it out on one half of the court, the other six (three home guards and three opponent forwards) were cheering and making a lot of noise at the opposite end of the hall, impatiently waiting for the ball to get back to their side of the court. There were always six girls who couldn’t cross the center line.
You couldn’t dribble the ball from one end of the court to the other, making that flashy lay-up shot. Then we had that crazy two steps while bouncing the ball twice; there was a pivot and you had nowhere else to go. You had to get rid of the ball; you could execute a backbend or you could take that extra step and be called for traveling. It was most confusing. I remember being called for “over guarding” a lot. That two steps and a pivot was almost like a dance.
I was 5’3” and jumped center most of the time. Now that was a feat all in itself! Mary Eve Feist and I played forward, while Ginny Feist played guard. Our coach was Lucy White and we all liked and respected her. I looked through my yearbook and, much to my amazement, they have the picture of our team, but absolutely no stats. Our team did get away from the bloomer-type uniforms. We wore blue, pleated shorts with white blouses and white tennis shoes that didn’t advertise any shoe company.
I think a lot of the statistics were lost when the red brick school burned down in October of 1979. Minnie and I hunted for quite some time before we found the silver cup of 1935. It was in the grade trophy room.
I am sorry to see they no longer use the “jump ball”. I was told that the authorities who change these things thought it slowed down the game too much.. After seeing the way the girls play today, I think they need something to slow it down a bit. Now, I can almost hear the huge massive cry of “Oh, no!!” I guess only time will tell if the speed of the girls running full speed back and forth will show up in these girls when they are women. I realize, in our days, the game was too slow, but I would think that somewhere they could reach a happy medium. I was glad to see girl’s basketball come back after a sabbatical they had through the 50s and 60s. I do wish that I could have seen the girls of 1918 play. One can only imagine the game!