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April 6, 2019
WBU Flying Queens Named to Naismith Hall of Fame
PLAINVIEW – What has been more than 70 years in the making culminated Saturday morning when the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame announced its 2019 induction class, including the Wayland Baptist University Flying Queens. The program was inducted on the strength of its history, impact on the game and its continued success over a long period of time.
The Hall of Fame will officially induct the program from 1948-82 when the Queens were instrumental in changes made to the game of women’s basketball. From using community sponsors like the Harvest Queen Mill and Claude and Wilda Hutcherson in its early years, to offering athletic scholarships for women and changing the game to the full-court, 5-on-5 with unlimited dribble, the Queens were at the forefront of women’s basketball.
In an official announcement, Wayland President Dr. Bobby Hall congratulated those who were inducted and shared his excitement for the university and the entire Flying Queens family.
“What a great day for Wayland,” Hall said. “If you have ever played on, coached, administered, supported or otherwise been connected with this remarkable program – the Wayland Flying Queens – this is your day!”
Flying Queens Coach Alesha Ellis and Wayland Athletic Director Rick Cooper were on hand for the announcement and echoed Dr. Hall’s excitement.
“For an athletic program, the Naismith Hall of Fame is the zenith. It’s the top,” Cooper said. “It’s an honor for the program. It’s an honor for the team. It’s an honor for the girls right now who are playing for the team.”
Ellis, who grew up in Plainview, said the Queens have always been an important part of her basketball life. She said if not for the Queens program, she would have never been able to accomplish what she has as a player or a coach.
“To be part of a program that helped modernize the game means a lot to me,” Ellis said. “They helped pave the way.”
The Flying Queens were named to the Hall by a veteran’s direct-elect committee. The Queens have a storied program that includes being the first college to offer women athletic scholarships decades before Title IX. The Queens also hold the record for the longest winning streak in basketball at 131 games, accomplished in a five-year span from 1953-58. The team’s history includes numerous All-Americans, 10 AAU national titles, national runner-up finishes, nine consecutive NWIT titles and success throughout the decades that has led to more than 1,600 wins -- more than any team in history. The program continues to be successful as the Queens set another team record in 2019 with three athletes named as NAIA All-Americans.
Wayland’s history will now be on full display alongside the likes of Nancy Lieberman, Sheryl Swoopes, Pat Summitt, Wilt Chamberlain, Meadowlark Lemon, the Harlem Globetrotters, John Wooden, Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan.
“It’s where the giants of the game are honored,” Hall said.
The induction means Queens will forever be remembered as members of a Hall of Fame program – an honor not lost on former Flying Queen Cherri Rapp (1968-72).
“We appreciate being recognized as a leader in providing opportunities for women in sports for more than 70 years,” Rapp said. “We are so grateful to Coach Harley Redin who was responsible for helping change the landscape of women’s basketball. I would like to say thank you to the Hall of Fame for this honor.”
The Flying Queens will be officially inducted Sept. 5-7 at the Hall of Fame ceremony in Springfield, Mass. Located in the city where basketball was invented, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame promotes and preserves the game of basketball at every level – professional, collegiate and high school, for both men and women on the global stage. For more information, visit hoophall.com.