Girls' Basketball, 1920's &1930's
Odds and Ends From The MUSEUM!
By Trudy Wyman, Curator, Millinocket Historical Society Museum
The first women’s basketball game was played at Smith College in 1892. Each team put six players on the floor at a time and no one crossed the center line. Guards stayed on their end with the opposing team’s forwards. Only the ball crossed the center line. This was the way it was until 1970 when the rules changed to five players and full court play. In 1972 Title IX brought more changes to girls’ and women’s basketball.
The first mention in Stearns yearbooks of girls’ basketball is in 1923 at the new Stearns HS building. They had a 50-50 record that year (the same as the boys’ team). However, the girls only played two games defeating East Millinocket HS 14–2 and losing to Merrill HS of Smyrna Mills 22-5. The boys played 14 games and won 7 and lost 7.
In those early years with no gym, finding a hall to play in limited the number of games for both girls and boys. In 1924, the girls’ coach was Miss Harkness. The yearbook states, “The schedule was not very extensive. One game was played with their deadly rivals, the girls of East Millinocket HS, and by a narrow margin of 23 to 3 our girls suffered defeat. As with the boys, they had no opportunity to practice and consequently could not develop a smooth-working organization.”
The 1925 season showed “some ill luck.” The center had to drop out due to illness and all the other positions had to reshuffle to accommodate her loss. Several games were lost by a narrow margin.
In December of 1928, 50 girls tried out for the team and 15 were chosen. They met three nights a week for an hour of practice. Seven of 14 games were won and one game ended in a tie, 15-15.
The 1930 team faced unusual obstacles. Due to high enrollment, double sessions were held and that made scheduling basketball practice difficult. They finally worked out a schedule and played several successful games. Then the school was quarantined because of scarlet fever and all games were canceled except three with East Millinocket. Stearns won the first by one basket, a tie for the second and a “decided victory” for Stearns in the third.
An “unprecedented two-day trip to Aroostook County was the highlight of the 1937 season” coached by Jimmy Stevens. He was also the boys team coach. With only a week’s practice, the team defeated Ricker Classical Institute and lost a close one to Houlton. The team averaged 23 points a game that season.
The Stearns girls’ team was coached by a number of different faculty members, both women and men, through the years. At first, each year there was someone new. By the 1930’s, Coach Coady led both the boys’ and girls’ teams for a time and then Coach Jimmy Stevens appears as coach of both teams for several years.