Redin, others thrilled over Flying Queens finalist for Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame

It may sound strange that Harley Redin wasn’t terribly disappointed he wasn’t included on the list of finalists for induction into the 2016 Class of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

And it’s not because Redin, at age 96, simply doesn’t get worked up about much these days.

It’s because the Wayland Baptist Flying Queens – the women’s basketball program synonymous with Redin as well as unparalleled success –were included on the list of finalists for induction into the Hall of Fame.

“I like that a lot better,” Redin said. “I’d rather it be the team than me. I’m really pleased.”

Redin had been named a finalist for induction numerous times in the past, while this was the first year the Flying Queens as a program were nominated. Then, on Feb. 12, it was announced that the Flying Queens – the winningest women’s team in collegiate basketball history – made the list of 14 finalists, one of four from the Women’s Committee.

“I think it’s quite an honor to be considered for that,” Redin said.

The Class of 2016 will be unveiled Monday, April 4 at the Men's NCAA Final Four in Houston, with enshrinement festivities taking place in Springfield, Mass., Sept. 8-10, 2016.

“I’d sure like to see the team get that honor because they’re the ones who deserve it. There’s just no comparison,” added Redin, who coached the Flying Queens to 429 of their now close to 1,600 wins, including the last 79 of the record 131-game winning streak from 1953-58. Caddo Matthews coached the team the first 52 games of that incredible run.

The only four-year player in the history of the Flying Queens who never lost a game –104 total – was Rita Alexander. She’s understandably thrilled about the recognition, especially since she played on the teams from 1953-57 that won four of the program’s 10 AAU championships.

“I feel wonderful about it,” confirmed Alexander, a two-time AAU All-American who now lives in The Colony near Dallas. “Coach Redin worked so hard. I don’t feel the Queens would ever have made it had he not stepped in as coach.

“I’m very proud to have been a Queen and have the opportunity to go to Wayland and play basketball,” Alexander added. “I was able to play on the U.S. women’s team, and it’s where I met my husband.

“That was a wonderful experience. Basketball changed my life.”

Alexander was but one of the hundreds of Flying Queens that made Redin button-popping proud during and ever since his 18 years as coach.

“These were four-year, full-time college students who went by eligibility rules and made good grades,” he said. “They were extra good citizens who did well in their lives after college.”

Redin’s players feel the same way about their coach, as evidenced not long ago when 60 of them showed up for Redin’s 95th birthday party.

The Flying Queens have had numerous occasions to celebrate their glorious past, including three years ago when the 1953-58 Flying Queens were recognized by the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame as Trailblazers of the Game. Also, Redin is one of eight Flying Queens representatives – former team sponsor Claude Hutcherson; coach Dean Weese; players Patsy Neal, Lometa Odom, Katherine Washington and Jill Rankin Schneider; and Marsha Sharp who played junior varsity basketball at Wayland but was recognized as a coach at Texas Tech – are members of the WBHOF in Knoxville, Tenn.

Additionally, Flying Queens have garnered almost 200 spots on various all-American teams, have played in international competition, and have earned numerous other individual athletic and academic honors. More than 350 players have worn the Flying Queens uniform in their 68-year history, which has seen the program advance to the Final Four twice during the brief stint of the Association of Intercollegiate Athletics for Women in the 1970s and to the finals of the NAIA National Championships twice among the Flying Queens’ 23 trips to nationals.

Rick Cooper, a former standout player and coach for the Wayland Baptist Pioneers who now serves as athletics director, said the Flying Queens’ naming as a finalist for the Hall of Fame is thrilling.

“It’s a fantastic honor,” Cooper said. “It’s something anybody associated with the university should be proud of.”

Dr. Bobby Hall, a former sports information director at Wayland who now serves as executive vice-president and provost, echoed Cooper’s remarks.

“All who follow women’s basketball should appreciate the remarkable accomplishments of the Flying Queens program, which has played such a groundbreaking and transformational role not only in sports, but in providing educational and leadership opportunities for women,” Hall said. “Since its inception, the women and men associated with this program have been dedicated to providing these opportunities at a level of excellence unparalleled in men’s or women’s basketball. Their accomplishments both on the court and in their careers are well documented.

“We are most appreciative of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame’s recognition of the stature and many contributions of the Flying Queens program and enthusiastically encourage its inclusion in the Class of 2016.”