I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: sports are really not my thing. I used to play both soccer and softball, but I never loved it. I also generally hate being outside, so that didn’t help. But what I do really enjoy is women’s history. I think so many times women are left out of the history books, and that’s a shame. I really like exploring women’s role in history. So when I saw this book about a groundbreaking women’s basketball team during the Great Depression, I thought why not?
(All reviews are spoiler-free unless otherwise noted.)
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 game and heartfelt loyalty to one another and their coach, they won every game.
Like I said, sports aren’t something I generally enjoy reading about. Even in fiction. So I still have no idea what possessed me to pick up this book, but I’m honestly glad I did. I think most of us have encountered or read about instances of women or girls being discriminated against in sports (remember when Serena Williams’s catsuit was banned because it wasn’t a skirt?). So it’s no surprise that this was happening in the 1930s. But it was something else to see just how much women’s sports were impacted. Like how most of the articles written up about the team included how pretty they were. Or that one of the biggest basketball competitions they participated in also included a beauty pageant. Seriously.
But even though a little bit of the basketball talk might have gone over my head (maybe I just zoned out a little), I couldn’t help but root for these girls. Who were not only proving that women could play basketball and be great at it, they were doing it to pay for their college education. I loved them. I couldn’t help but want to root for them. I also really enjoyed their coach who had his own set of hardships and then turned it all around to help these women. It’s such a great story.
Even though I’m still not sure why I picked up a nonfiction book about basketball, I don’t regret it at all. Because, sure, this was actually about basketball, but it was also about women standing up for themselves and participating in an activity they loved even though it wasn’t considered feminine. It’s such a great, inspiring story. And one I think more people should know about.
★★★☆☆ – I did enjoy Dust Bowl Girls. It’s a great story, but I just didn’t love it. Again, sports are just not my thing so I couldn’t personally relate to much of it. But I still do recommend this if you’re interested. If you like basketball and history, definitely check out Dust Bowl Girls.
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