CYO opened door for girls to hoop it up
Catholic Youth Organization-sponsored girls basketball has come a long way since it was introduced at Sacred Heart School.
When Sacred Heart started playing girls basketball the school used girls rules such as having three players on each side of the court line. Bob Stephans, Dick Burns and I coached girls teams in the early 1960s. Stephans and I coached the seventh- and eighth-grade girls team and Dick Burns coached fifth- and sixth-grade teams. I don't recall just how much Stephans enjoyed girls rules, but I thought it was kind of neat. One of the reasons I enjoyed girls rules was because I always had big players - and I mean big. Dolores Schroeder was the all-time leading scorer for Sacred Heart. Schroeder scored 42 points in one game, and her all-time best seasonal record was scoring 1,018 points. That's a record that will always stand.
Bob and I both enjoyed winning seasons. Schroeder, who was about 5 feet 9 inches tall, was very athletic and played aggressive basketball. I remember one game we were winning pretty handily and Dolores had another one of her great games. Her career average was 16.16 points per game. In one game our opponents were fussing among themselves at halftime about who was going to guard Dolores. One girl said to a teammate, "You guard number 20 in the second half because I had her in the first half."
When we first started girls basketball I went into the office to see Sister Dorothy, who was the principal, and showed her a couple of catalogues I had showing girls uniforms. She about flipped when she saw that most were shorts and she said there was no way our girls could play in those uniforms. She suggested a one-piece girl uniform that really didn't look all that bad.
Stephans was chairman of the athletic board at that time and he organized athletic banquets over the years. He also was a member of the athletic board that started the Brown Bottle Dinner and Auction. In those early years of the Brown Bottle it was more or less up to the athletic committee and their wives. The Brown Bottle turned into the all-time best fundraiser, and since moving to the new school it has averaged over $130,000 for the building fund. Another member of the athletic committee was Ray Reynolds, who has an undefeated coaching record at 1-0. The victory he coached enabled Sacred Heart to continue its 57-game winning streak, a record that will be hard to beat. I can remember well our first game for the girls team at Sacred Heart that we lost. We got sweet revenge on the one loss we suffered by beating that team three times during the season. This also started the 57-win streak.
Other changes in sports and the CYO were adding third- and fourth-graders in the CYO program. Girls basketball didn't get into high school competition until 1976, and many Sacred Heart girls continued participation. Back in the early 1960s I was trying to get girls basketball in high school because I knew Delores Schroeder would have been a standout player. We had several girls after high school move on to play college competition. One girl, Kathy Bates Kelly, was an All-State selection in basketball and twice in volleyball. Kristi Finley Hoffine, who had started 62 games in high school, continued her starting position at Benedictine College.