At the height of the Great Depression, Sam Babb, the charismatic basketball coach of tiny Oklahoma Presbyterian College, began dreaming. Like so many others, he wanted a reason to have hope. Traveling from farm to farm, he recruited talented, hardworking young women and offered them a chance at a better life: a free college education if they would come play for his basketball team, the Cardinals. Despite their fears of leaving home and the sacrifices faced by their families, the women followed Babb and his dream. He shaped the Cardinals into a formidable team, and something extraordinary began to happen: with passion for the sport and heartfelt loyalty to one another and their coach, they won every game. For author Lydia Reeder, this is a family story: coach Sam Babb is her great-uncle. When her grandmother handed her a worn, yellowed folder that contained newspaper articles, letters, and photographs of Sam and the Cardinals, she said, “You might want to tell their story someday.” Now, with extensive research and the gathered memories of the surviving Cardinals, she has. Combining exhilarating sports writing and exceptional storytelling, Dust Bowl Girls conveys the intensity of an improbable journey to an epic showdown with the prevailing national champions, led by the legendary Babe Didrikson. It captures a moment in American sports history when a visionary coach helped his young athletes achieve more than a winning season.
About the Author
Lydia Ellen Reeder is the grandniece of Sam Babb, the extraordinary basketball coach featured in Dust Bowl Girls. She spent over two years conducting research for the book and also wrote and narrated a short film about the Cardinal basketball team, currently on view at the Oklahoma Historical Society website: youtu.be/fokmbnWmp50. As a former associate editor at Whole Life Times in Los Angeles and Delicious Magazine in Boulder, Colorado, Reeder has worked for many years as a copywriter and editor on behalf of corporate and organizational clients and most recently developed e-learning for a national nursing association. She lives in Denver with her husband and enjoys hiking in the mountains of Colorado. Dust Bowl Girls is her first book.
Table of Contents
1 New Recruit 1
2 The Making of a Coach 6
3 The Field House, 4 a.m. 27
4 A Good Shot Maker Believes in Herself 42
5 Choctaw Town 56
6 A Man's Sport 73
7 Weak Ankles and Weaker Nerves 95
8 Barnstorm 113
9 End Game 133
10 Babe Didrikson and the Golden Cyclones 153
11 Guts and Glory 172
12 Next Stop, Shreveport 193
13 Brains, Beauty, and Ball Handling 209
14 A Team That Won't Be Beat Can't Be Beat 233
15 A Hometown Welcome 247
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
During the Great Depression, many in the nation wanted anything that would give them hope and lift their spirts during that trying time. One of the more unlikely sources of that type of inspiration was a women’s basketball at the tiny school of Oklahoma Presbyterian College. The dreams of their coach, Sam Babb, and their story is captured in this well-written book by Lydia Reeder, the great niece of Coach Babb. In the book, the reader will learn about the Cardinals’ star player Doll Harris and her teammates as they took their athletic gifts and despite the concerns from the Womens Division (led by the wife of President Herbert Hoover) about the health of female athletes, they practiced, won games and then won the 1932 AAU championship (there was no NCAA basketball tourney for men or women at that time). There are also passages that describe the Depression-era economy of the time, some history of the area and the college as well as the many references to the scorn of women participating in non-feminine sports. At that time, it was acceptable for women to play sports that would not necessarily make them masculine, such as figure skating and tennis. But basketball was certainly one game that was supposed to be for the men. One should also keep in mind that at this time the women’s game was a six-on-six sport in which three players for each team were on offense and defense and cannot cross the center court line. These sections that explain this attitude toward female athletes make this book one that anyone interested in women’s sports a must read. It is also recommended for readers who want an inspiring story about a team of determined young women out to show what they can accomplish. I wish to thank Algonquin Books for providing a copy of the book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Dust Bowl Girls was a good read for me, brought me back to my Oklahoma roots. The book opens up in Cement, OK which is only a few miles from where I grew up. Our school played that school in high school basketball. Coach Sam Babb goes around all over Oklahoma and other places, recruiting high school girls to come and play on his team. He offers them a paid college scholarship if they will come. It was in the depression, so jobs were hard to find and meant a lot if you could get one. The girls came from all walks of life, all wanting to play the game. It was very interesting, giving background on the college and views of the girls' lives. The author is Coach Sam Babb's great niece. So the research for the book was delving into her family's history. I would highly recommend this book.
This was a little more detailed than what I thought it would be. I assumed it would be about basketball and a basketball team. However, it got into the history of Oklahoma and the Trail of Tears and establishments and settlements. It had a lot of names and how much was paid for what. This would be a great book for someone who is really interested in the history of Oklahoma. However, that was not the case for me. I had just wanted to read about this basketball team. What I was able to read about them and Coach Babb was very interesting, but having to get through all the other stuff was just not worth it. I think perhaps a better title would land this book on the shelves of people who would be more interested. I could tell the author did a lot of research, this just wasn't what I was looking for. Thanks Algonquin Books and Net Galley for providing me with a free e-galley in exchange for an honest review.