When the game clock ticked zero giving the Rural Special Lady Rebels their first state basketball championship earlier this month, the spirit of an 89-year-old fan back in Fox was sitting on the bench with a great sense of satisfaction.
“I’ve waited 72 years for this,” said Anita (Schiefer) Sutterfield, who played on Rural Special’s first girls basketball team in 1949. “I’m so proud of them, I can hardly stand it.”
Sutterfield is one of seven original members from the 1949 team who played about 10 games home and away, usually during daylight hours, and on a dirt court outside school facilities.
Team members in addition to Sutterfield were: Barbara Branscum Smith, Naomi Morrison Ammons, Emma Jean Lowrance Walden, Ora Alice Lowrance MacKulin, Helen Green Duncan, and Johnnie Bell Moore Divelbiss. Of the original seven, Sutterfield and Duncan of Batesville are still alive.
“We were a new school and we didn’t have a lot back then,” Sutterfield said. “But we practiced every day, and if it got too cold outside, we just put our coats on. Just about everyone was pretty athletic back then because no one was overweight. We all walked to school.”
After the Rural Special school district formed in 1947, it took two years to get a girls team in place. Sutterfield said the girls mostly just wanted something to do.
“We all wanted to play because the girls didn’t have anything to participate in. There was just nothing to do. We weren’t as popular as the boys were. They sort of put us off to the side.” But other area schools such as Mountain View and Fifty Six did have girls sports, she said.
Read the entire feature in the March 31, 2021, issue.
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