Inaugural Ballers

Inaugural Ballers

I just finished reading Andrew Maraniss’ book, Inaugural Ballers: The True Story of the First US Women’s Olympic Basketball Team. It may be hackneyed to use this phrase, but I honestly could not put it down.

You may have read some of Andrew’s other books. Strong Inside: Perry Wallace and the Collision of Race and Sports in the South was the first I read because I was there when Perry began his historic entrance into SEC basketball.

Inaugural Ballers was equally intriguing.

Maraniss, with his usual impeccable research, captures a story of prejudice and misogyny being overcome by hard work, persistence, and athletic ability. He gives you a personal glimpse of the players and coaches while they succeed against the odds to make women’s basketball a viable sport pursuit at all levels. Wonderful read.

He traces the beginning of the sport through the tough journeys of the women that started it all and refused to quit, detailing how they brought women’s basketball to the fore in our country and the world. The route of the basketball players parallels the history of women’s struggle for equality. If anything, the women athletes faced a tougher task.

Maraniss captures the personalities and the highs and lows of the team and its members as they move toward their final goal.

Blunt Billie Moore, the head coach, is a female basketball Bear Bryant in her toughness and demand for her players to be in top physical condition. Along with Sue Gunter, the calm and analytical assistant, the pair reminded me of a commanding officer and executive officer on a Navy ship.

Andrew captures the spirit of Pat Head. She’s better known as Pat Summit, the eventual coach at Tennessee where she became the winningest coach in women’s college basketball.

Nancy Lieberman, a daughter of divorced Jewish and Catholic parents in Far Rockaway, New York, is a cocky, feisty, and never-quit personality that added her element to the team.

Luisa Harris is a black player from Delta State and a force in the forecourt. In spite of even more prejudice than many of the other players, Luisa united her hometown in Mississippi with the team’s accomplishments.

Each player had a story. Maraniss captures them all.

The story resonated with me. There is similarity between what the team experienced on their journey and my experience on Navy ships. When goals and the task at hand are the focus, teams and ships put cultural, racial, religious, and personal differences aside to work together toward a common mission, miracles can happen.

Andrew Maraniss reveals this miracle in captivating style.

I recommend everyone read this book.

1 thought on “Inaugural Ballers

  1. And did he attribute the opportunity of Title 9 pushed through the senate by Birch Bye which opened the door for access to equal opportunities for women in sports in educational institutions.

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