Rural Missouri - March 2013 - (Page 22)

Queens of the Co The All American Red Heads were the first paid women’s traveling F Kyle Spradley kspradley@ruralmissouri.coop or members of the Cairo girl’s basketball team, 1967 was their year. Led by top scorer Brenda Koester, the team went undefeated — yet unrewarded. Unlike today’s leagues where playoffs are prevalent and successful teams are awarded championships, there was no state tournament, March Madness or prize trophies for the Cairo girls. “After that season, basketball was over for me,” says Brenda, formerly Brenda O’Bryan. “There really wasn’t any college ball. My career was over.” Two years later, while Brenda was playing softball in Louisiana, she met Pauline Barbo. “She told me about This team photo of the 1967-1968 All American Red Heads featured, from left, Jolene Ammons, Becky “Miss Basketball” Harp, Brenda Mo this team called the All American Red Heads were formed in Cassville by C.M. Olson in 1936. For 50 years, the women’s team played exclusively against men’s teams acros Red Heads,” says Brenda. legend Nolan Ryan and the New Eng“They were a women’s country. They challenged men’s teams club from 1970 to 1973. Her land Patriots football team,” says Pat team that toured the comprised of local talent, celebrities younger sister, Kay Burk, folOverman. Born Pat Rimer, she grew country and played against or college standouts. lowed her and donned up in Edina and joined the team in men. I knew right away this They played using the men’s rules the red hair for three 1962 straight out of high school. In was right up my alley.” and routinely won, using a fast-paced seasons between 1972 12 years as a Red Head, she played in Pauline helped Brenda constyle of play and superb shooting. and 1976. The O’Bryan auline every state and averaged more than tact the coach and owner of They were also entertainers, as the Red sisters became part of Cassville • 20 points a game for a career total of the team, Orwell Moore. Soon, Heads coming to town was a big deal a sorority of women more than 25,000 points. Brenda was called for a tryout for a lot of rural communities. who played during the “We’d have games scheduled just at Camp Courage, the Red Head’s “During halftime, while the men team’s 50-year tenure about every day,” recalls Pat, who now training facilities in Mississippi. were resting, we would go out and put and who helped break the stereotype lives in Jonesboro, Ark. “Most Sun“After only two days of playing, on a show,” says Kay, who now resides that women couldn’t play sports. days, we’d play two games. Finish one Mr. Moore offered me a contract,” in Fort Madison, Iowa. “We had one The Red Heads were one of the game, jump in the car and drive 150 says Brenda, who now resides in girl that was a comedienne, and we’d nation’s first professional women’s miles or so and play another.” Moberly. “I was so excited to continue do juggling and dribbling tricks, fancy teams. They were paid to play 200 Winning was consistent for the Red playing the game I loved.” shots and other things to keep the games or more in a seven-month seaHeads. During the 1970 season, they Brenda went on to play with the crowd entertained.” son as they barnstormed across the had a 96-game winning streak in 96 The roots of the Red Heads began days — which included three days off in 1936 in Cassville by C.M. Olson — and three doubleheaders. 60 years before the WNBA was formed Travel between games was not a and only 16 after women won the luxurious affair. The Red Heads traright the vote. Olson operated several versed the country crammed into a men’s teams during the 1920s, but stretch limousine. To save space, each with a women’s team he saw a new of the seven players was allowed just opportunity. The first two players he one suitcase for the season. signed were natural red heads. As a “You only had a few outfits, but way to promote his wife’s salon, the when we rolled into town, we other women followed suit and went wanted to look like profesfor the crimson hair color. sional young ladies,” The first season began in the tiny says Pat. “Before each town of Alpena, Ark., on Nov. 24. game, we were busy After that, the Red Heads exploded with interviews, superonto basketball’s center stage, playing market visits and 133 games in six months in front of promotions for sell-out crowds in nearly 30 states. the game. But With each season, the Red Heads after each game, we grew in popularity. They added more would head to an allstops, and a second and third team night laundry mat were added to the touring schedule. to wash our To improve their play, Olson hired an uniforms and up-and-coming coach, Orwell Moore, clothes.” from Caraway, Ark., in 1948 to lead During the the team. Moore eventually went on season, the women to be the owner and coached the Red spent just about Heads till the team folded in 1986. every waking On trips to Hollywood, they made moment together. guest appearances on talk shows and They developed movie sets, played in a variety of arestrong friendnas — even on a U.S. Navy battleship During a game in her first year as a Red Head in the 1966-1967 season, Charlotte ships and an — and beat many celebrity teams. “Sweetie” Adams makes a move to the basket past two male defenders. The MississipThis logo appeared on even stronger “We played against the baseball pi native went on to score 26,746 points during her seven-year career with the team. All American Red Heads 22 WWW.RURALMISSOURI.COOP http://WWW.RURALMISSOURI.COOP

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Rural Missouri - March 2013

Rural Missouri - March 2013
Table of Contents
Comments
Columns
Musings in mud
The lure of tying flies
Outdoors
Out of the Way Eats
Living history
Queens of the court
Homegrown music
Hearth and Home
All about mulch
Around Missouri
Marketplace
Neighbors
Just4Kids

Rural Missouri - March 2013

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