Dust Bowl Girls: The Inspiring Story of the Team That Barnstormed Its Way to Basketball Glory

304p. notes. photos. Algonquin. Jan. 2017. Tr $26.95. ISBN 9781616204662.
In the early 1930s, Sam Babb recruited farm girls to play for his basketball team at Oklahoma Presbyterian College in Durant. At the time, most women's teams were sponsored by the companies for whom the players worked. Some, including Lou Henry Hoover, wife of President Herbert Hoover, thought that competitive sports were not an appropriate activity for young women. But Coach Babb knew that basketball helped participants develop critical thinking and good judgment. He also believed that a winning team could bring a whole community together and raise spirits that had been battered by the Great Depression. Reeder employs player interviews and scrapbooks to tell the true story of the Cardinals, who in 1932 became the first women's collegiate team to win the American Athletic Union's National Basketball Tournament. Her personable narrative is as much about the daily lives of the players as it is about the sport of basketball, and young adults will love details that bring the time and place to life (for example, because many of the players came from farms with no indoor plumbing or electricity, the hot water in their college dorm seemed extravagant).
VERDICT Useful for curriculum support, this compelling offering makes for good recreational reading, too. Hand it to fans of A League of Their Own or to anyone who relishes a good sports underdog tale.

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