My wife watches 'A League of Their Own' a lot, and I must admit that film always chokes me up as well. So if you're a fan of that movie, or enjoyed the recent bestseller 'Boys in the Boat,' then I would highly recommend 'Dust Bowl Girls' by Lydia Reeder.
Set in the early 1930's depression-era Oklahoma, Dust Bowl Girls tells the true story of the Cardinals, the basketball team playing for the Oklahoma Presbyterian College for Girls. The players were mostly farm girls who loved the game of basketball and were thrilled for the opportunity to keep playing beyond high school. What were they up against? Pretty much everything that could be thrown at them. From the endless Great Depression to failing crops, and even pressure from men and women's groups who didn't believe females should be playing competitive sports, lest they become masculine and not marry and bear children. But the Cardinals had much going for them as well. They knew hard work from an early age. They knew self-discipline and sacrifice. They had a stoic coach who stressed teamwork, sportsmanship, and most of all believed in them. They also had to compete against arguably the greatest female athlete of the 20th century, Babe Didrikson, who was a champion in basketball, track and field, and golf.
The Cardinals had to practice at 4:00 a.m. so as not to disturb the men's teams. They had to hand crank the team bus, drive it over endless dirt roads, repair it, push it, and then win.You had to win. Because if you didn't, your team could easily be disbanded and forgotten. But thank goodness this story wasn't forgotten. Thank goodness for the Dust Bowl Girls.