Star athletes among former players attending opening of Flying Queens Museum

PLAINVIEW – Four individual women’s basketball hall of famers will be present Saturday for the grand opening of the Flying Queens Museum at Wayland Baptist University.

Hall of famers Alice “Cookie” Barron and Kaye Garms, as well as coaches Dean Weese and Marsha Sharp, are among those associated with the Flying Queens women’s basketball program who will be present for the ceremony slated for 10:30 a.m., Saturday, Feb. 18, at the new museum inside Mabee Regional Heritage Center on Wayland’s Plainview campus.

The Flying Queen teams from 1948 to 1982 were enshrined into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 2019, and the basketball program received the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame Trailblazers Award in 2013. Barron was inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame as a player, Garms was inducted in the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame as an official, and Dean Weese and Marsha Sharp were inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame as coaches. More than 20 other Flying Queens, who have played through the years, plan to be present as officials representing Wayland Baptist University and Hutcherson Flying Queens Foundation, Inc., formally dedicate the museum.

Constructed inside Mabee Regional Heritage Center, the Flying Queens Museum is a vast collection of memorabilia telling the story of how Wayland’s women’s basketball program changed the course of the collegiate game. The museum highlights the international reach and the remarkable role the Flying Queens have played in transforming women’s basketball.

The Hutcherson Flying Queens Foundation has collected an incredible amount of memorabilia from the last 75 years, which means fans will want to return often to see rotating exhibits. There are interactive videos and computer-enhanced displays, as well as traditional presentations, but the centerpiece is a special tribute to the enshrinement of the Flying Queens in the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame. On permanent display outside the museum, there is a full-size Beechcraft Bonanza airplane like those that transported the Flying Queens.

In addition to highlighting the Flying Queens’ 131 consecutive games — still the record for both men’s and women’s collegiate basketball — the museum stresses Wayland’s role in providing educational opportunities for women long before Title IX. WBU was the first college to offer four-year scholarships to women. While the success of the Flying Queens on the court is legendary, the story of the basketball program goes far beyond the gymnasium. Dr. Bobby Hall, WBU President, says he believes people will see the museum as much more than just the athletic legacy, but also as a place that honors the contributions made to women’s basketball.

The Flying Queen Museum has the look and feel of a crisp, new basketball facility while exploring the influence of the program beyond the court. For example, the U.S. State Department in the 1950s used coaches and players to improve international relations through international tours. Many Flying Queens represented the United States in international competitions, and many went on to teach, coach and even officiate, creating the next generation.

Here are incredible achievements of some of the former players and coaches who are returning to Wayland Saturday for the opening of the Flying Queens Museum:

Alice “Cookie” Barron never played in a losing game as she competed for the Flying Queens from 1954 to 1957. She helped the Flying Queens win 104 straight games and claim national championships in all three of her seasons. In the 1956-1957 season, it was her free throw with four seconds left in the third overtime that prolonged the Flying Queens’ win streak in a 53-52 road win over Iowa Wesleyan. She was a first team All-American as the Flying Queens claimed their fourth straight AAU national title. She was also a member of the United States national team that beat Russia in the finals of the 1957 World Tournament in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Legendary Flying Queens Coach Harley Redin said she was one of the best ball handlers he had ever coached.

Rita Alexander-Colman played from 1954 to 1957 and was a two-time All-American. She was part of four consecutive AAU national championships and played in the Pan-American Games and the World Tournament. Helping the Flying Queens to win 104 games while she was on the team, she never lost a game while wearing a Flying Queens uniform. She was co-captain the US Women’s Basketball team at the World Tournament in Brazil.

Kaye Garms played from 1955 to 1958. She was an AAU All-American is 1956 and 1957. In May 1958, she was selected to play on the USA team that toured Russia, the first sports exchange trip between the United States and Russia. She went on to coach for seven years in Texas and 26 years in Colorado. She officiated girls basketball at the high school level for 17 years and women’s basketball at the college level for 15 years. In 1991, she was appointed coordinator of women’s basketball officials for the Western Athletic. She received the Naismith 2014 Women’s Collegiate Official of the Year Award.

While Belva Ramsey Stokes played from 1956 to 1957, the Flying Queens won an AAU National Championship. The Flying Queens lost only one game while she was a player — the 46-42 loss at the AAU Tournament that ended the 131-game winning streak.

Betty Ransom-Cagle made four trips to the national tournament while playing from 1962 to 1966. She played with the U.S. team in the World Games in Lima, Peru.

Turning down an offer to play for the well-known All-American Red Heads, Barbara McAninch played for the Flying Queens from 1965 to 1969 and earned a national title.

Linda Pickens Price played for the Hutherson Flying Queens from 1966 to 1969, competing three times in the AAU National Tournament and winning the inaugural National Women’s Invitational Tournament. She was an AAU All-American, an AAU All-American Honorable Mention, and a National Girls Basketball League All-League player.

Dr. Sylvia Nadler, first female to serve as an athletic director over both a men’s and women’s intercollegiate programs, coached Wayland Queen Bees for three years in the 1960s. While she served as Wayland’s AD from 1983 to 1990, the Flying Queens made several appearances at the NAIA National Women’s Basketball Tournament.

Deemed by Coach Harley Redin be too short and too slow to play for the Flying Queens, Marsha Sharp took his suggestion and turned to coaching. She started her stellar career as coach of Wayland’s Queen Bees. After graduating, she coached the Queen Bees one more year, posting a 19-2 record. After six years at head coach at Lockney High School, Sharp became an assistant at Texas Tech and a year later she was named the head coach of the Lady Raiders basketball program, bringing that school a national title in 1993.

Dean Weese coached the Hutcherson Flying Queens from 1973 to 1979 compiling a 193-30 record in six years. Those years included five appearances in the AIAW National Tournament, two AAU titles, and four National Women’s Invitational championships. Weese left the Flying Queens to coach the Dallas Diamonds, a professional team. He was inducted into the Panhandle Sports Hall of Fame and the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame.

Cathy Wilson played for the Flying Queens from 1972 to 1975 and coached the team from 1979 to 1983. The Flying Queens lost only four games in her 1973-1974 season and were 34-1 her senior year, repeating as AAU and NWIT champions. In 1982, Wilson coached the Flying Queens in the AIAW Final Four.

From 1974 to 1978, the Flying Queens were 132-16 and were the 1975 AAU National Champions. Leanne Waddell South was on the team. The Flying Queens also qualified for the AIAW National Tournament in 1976 and 1978. Like many Flying Queens, South became a coach and then a professional player. She played for the Houston Angels of the Women’s Professional Basketball League and later worked as a radio analyst for Texas A&M women’s basketball.

Kathy Harston played for the Flying Queens from 1976 to 1980, and as a senior was a finalist for the Wade Trophy given to the National Player of the Year. Wayland was 108–35 during the four years Harston was a Flying Queen. Wayland won the NWIT in 1977, went to the AIAW Final Four in 1978 and to the AIAW Quarterfinals in 1979. Harston earned All-America honors three of her four years with the Flying Queens. In 1978, she was selected to the Kodak All-America team and the National Scouting Association All-America team. She repeated as an All-American on the National Scouting Association team in 1979 and was as a 1979 Street & Smith Preseason All-American.

From 1980 to 1984, Darla Ford played for the Flying Queens. During her four years at Wayland, the Flying Queens played in the 1982 AIAW Final Four and the 1983 NAIA National Tournament.

All of these players these former players will be present Saturday when the Flying Queens Museum officially opens. After the Museum is dedicated, it will be open until 4 p.m. Saturday. Admission is free.