OKLAHOMA CITY, OKLAHOMA — Family stories and faded headlines formed the start.
Lydia Reeder’s grandmother had a favorite brother who was a basketball coach.
One day she gave Lydia a folder full old newspaper clippings.
Reeder continues, “And she said, ‘this is a really good story. You might want to tell it someday’.”
Sam Babb hired on at Oklahoma Presbyterian Collage for Women as a psychology professor and basketball coach.
He was a one-legged preacher’s kid from Comanche who’d never actually played the game himself.
But he was a great judge of talent and he had a huge advantage.
Babb offered scholarships to the best girls basketball players.
It was their one chance to keep playing and get a free education.
“Reeder says, “When they got to school and had heated rooms and hot running water it was a luxury.”
Within a couple of years of his arrival the Lady Cardinals started winning games.
From 1931 to 1934 they won 89 straight and two AAU National Championships.
They played most of their games against company womens teams whose players were much older and more experienced.
Of her great-uncle’s team, Reeder says, “They were about 16 to 19. The women who played for the industrial teams, some of them were 10 years older and they had been playing together for years.”
The team might have won but the college lost, closing in 1933.
The Lady Cardinals hung together, even playing for a season at Oklahoma City University for a season.
The team used to hold reunions every few years but their story faded over the generations until that exchange of memories.
“She left it up to me,” says Lydia of her grandmother’s suggestion.
Her grandmother was right.
Those old clippings did make for a good story, in this case, a book she called ‘Dust Bowl Girls’ about a special time in Oklahoma history when one team was better than all the others.
On February 6, 2017, author Lydia Reeder is available to sign copies of her new book at the Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame, 4040 N. Lincoln Blvd. in Oklahoma City.
The signing begins at 5:30pm.