Dust Bowl Girls: The Inspiring Story of the Team That Barnstormed Its Way to Basketball Glory (Hardcover)
“They are just a bunch of country girls who like to play basketball,” claimed Sam Babb, coach of the Cardinals, the Oklahoma Presbyterian College women’s team. And in the 1930s when flamboyant female athletes captured the attention of the press yet women’s sports were still quite controversial, being described as “country girls” was actually something of a compliment. But these farm girls who played for a junior college in a small Oklahoma town were surely no match for a national championship AAU team such as the Dallas Cyclones, starring the legendary Babe Didrikson...or were they? This is the story of how this underdog team, led by a resourceful coach, brought hope and excitement to Middle America during the Depression. Lydia Reeder (Sam Babb’s great-niece) tells the inspiring, true story of an improbable team that succeeded in spite of the odds.
Coach Babb traveled from farm to farm, promising these hardworking, athletic young women a free college education if they would come play basketball for him. In spite of never having left home, the girls were excited at the possibility of this adventure. But it was a sacrifice for most of the families who desperately needed the farm labor the girls could provide. They also would be subject to the disapproval facing serious female athletes. Basketball was not considered a proper sport for a young woman. Its rules were even changed for girls to make it less strenuous. In the 20s and 30s, it was thought that rigorous competition could damage a girl’s delicate reproductive organs, plus it might destroy her feminine image and make it hard for her to attract a husband. There were even national campaigns waged against women’s basketball, with well-known figures such as First Lady Lou Hoover speaking out against it. But these girls loved the game, and their loyalty to each other, their school, and their coach proved to be a winning combination.— Shirley Wells
"A thrilling, cinematic story. I loved every minute I spent with these bold, daring women whose remarkable journey is the stuff of American legend." --Karen Abbott, New York Times bestselling author of Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy
The Boys in the Boat meets A League of Their Own in this true story of a Depression-era championship women's team.
In the early 1930s, during the worst drought and financial depression in American history, Sam Babb began to dream. Like so many others, this charismatic Midwestern basketball coach wanted a reason to have hope. Traveling from farm to farm near the tiny Oklahoma college where he coached, Babb recruited talented, hardworking young women and offered them a chance at a better life: a free college education in exchange for playing on his basketball team, the Cardinals.
Despite their fears of leaving home and the sacrifices that their families would face, the women joined the team. And as Babb coached the Cardinals, something extraordinary happened. These remarkable athletes found a passion for the game and a heartfelt loyalty to one another and their coach--and they began to win.
Combining exhilarating sports writing and exceptional storytelling, Dust Bowl Girls takes readers on the Cardinals' intense, improbable journey all the way to an epic showdown with the prevailing national champions, helmed by the legendary Babe Didrikson. Lydia Reeder captures a moment in history when female athletes faced intense scrutiny from influential figures in politics, education, and medicine who denounced women's sports as unhealthy and unladylike. At a time when a struggling nation was hungry for inspiration, this unlikely group of trailblazers achieved much more than a championship season.