In 1979, I was admitted into the second class of women that lived on campus at the heretofore all-male Wofford College. The college was chartering a women’s basketball program and the coach wasn’t overly picky. She wasn’t desperate enough to take anyone with a pulse, but, as I had scored two baskets over three years of playing YMCA league, I made the cut.
Another unique thing about Wofford was that it was 1.5 miles away from an all-girl’s college—Converse College. Converse girls did not like the Wofford girls, and the feeling was mutual. We looked at them as debutantes and arm-candy. They probably thought us all science geeks and jocks.
Over my four years at Wofford, my basketball skills improved quite a bit, but I also had a lot to improve on. During that period, the Lady Terriers, as we were called, developed a healthy rivalry with the Converse College team.
During my junior year, we were in a close game with the women from Converse. For some reason, I was on the court. Perhaps someone had fouled out, lost a contact lens, or Coach was trying to send a message to someone that should have been scoring more. I don’t remember that part of the story. We weren’t playing well at all until a Converse girl took umbrage at my guarding her. She dropped her dainty-girl etiquette long enough to slug me in the side of the head.
Luckily I was incapable of standing, because I certainly would have blown the foul shot under pressure. Also luckily, this lit a fire under the rest of the team who were furious on my behalf. Honestly, they were a lot more upset about it that I was. Not only did they score the foul shots, they played their hearts out to take the win from Converse. . We (they actually, I was out of it then) ran away with the game during the last five minutes. Watching them, I realized they were furious because they cared about me. Maybe I was closer to Miss Congeniality than MVP, but they had my back.
After that day and into my senior year, when the Lady Terriers were in a slump, someone would (jokingly, I hope) suggest, “Why don’t we put Laura in and hope someone hits her.”
© Laura Hedgecock 2013
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