Womhoops Guru

Mel Greenberg covered college and professional women’s basketball for the Philadelphia Inquirer, where he worked for 40 plus years. Greenberg pioneered national coverage of the game, including the original Top 25 women's college poll. His knowledge has earned him nicknames such as "The Guru" and "The Godfather," as well as induction into the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame in 2007.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame - II: All American Red Heads Acceptance Speech

Guru note. With a dark night on the WNBA card, time for a little catch up from last weekend's enhsrinement ceremonies in Springfield, Mass., as promised.

This was Tammy Harrison's acceptance speech on behalf of the All American Red Heads. On top another post that is the printed program piece on Georgia star Katrina McClain which covers everything, as it turns out, which was in her speech. She had requested the Guru to do her bio. -- Mel


Tonight I am honored to speak on behalf of the All American Red Heads. I would like to start by thanking the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame for bestowing such a prestigious honor on such a special group of women and men. I would also like to congratulate the other members of the Class of 2012, too numerous to call each out by name, but we are thrilled to join you and the rest of the Naismith Hall of Fame family. A special thank you to John Doleva and his staff who are Hall of Famers in my book any day.

To be the first women’s basketball team inducted into the Naismith Hall of Fame… Thank you for bestowing such a prestigious honor to a special group of men and women who have spent their entire lives honoring the name, The All American Red Heads.

Where does someone begin when summing up a journey that actually began more than 75 years ago and involved the collaboration, dedication, and teamwork of so many?

Before I get ahead of myself, let me introduce myself. My name is Tammy Moore Harrison and I am the daughter of Orwell and Lorene Moore. My parents owned and operated the Red Heads for more than 30 years. My dad coached. My mom played. He was a great coach, but as might be the case in any family, Mom was the real star. She ended up being the all-time leading scorer for the Red Heads. Over 35,000 points. Can you imagine? I am telling you, Kareem, you had nothing on my Mom!

If I had to guess where Mom and Dad would want me to begin, it would be with Ole and Doyle Olson, the original owners of the Red Heads.

But first, allow me to indulge you for a moment if you will. I would like to take you back to 1936 America. A time of dust bowls and depressions and unease and all the while…basketball. A game so simple in many ways. A ball, a hoop…all you really need. And the opportunity to play of course. During this time, the opportunities for women were incredibly limited. It was considered socially unacceptable and physically impossible to run up and down the floor, to sweat, to compete. Women’s place was in the home, (Ralph) not on the basketball court. Of course there were exceptions. Women rejected the notion that basketball was man’s domain from the very beginning and women always worked as nurses and teachers and hairdressers. Which brings me to the All American Red Heads.

It was widely viewed that a woman’s body could not withstand the stress of such activity and it would pose serious health consequences. Against all odds, in 1936 the Olson’s created The All American Red Heads.

Some of you are probably wondering…what’s with the red hair? Mrs. Olson was a hairdresser. Mr. Olson was a gimmick man from the very beginning. Do you know that Ole was the first to throw the behind-the-back pass? So Magic, Kareem had nothing on my Mom and you might just owe Ole a high-five for all those unbelievable passes you made. Olson loved the spotlight so when he started his Red Heads, he wanted the girls to stand out. He dressed his fireballs in shiny uniforms, taught the girls all the tricks in the book, dyed their hair red…and oh yeah, scheduled games against men’s teams. We all owe a debt of gratitude to the Olson name. Ole and Doyle broke the ice, and gave women a future in sports.

To all of the women and men, players, coaches, and family members, who were bold enough to challenge the status quo and play basketball, this Honor is for you. Without taking that monumental first step, women’s basketball would not be where the game is today, and we would not be here to accept this honor.

My next acknowledgment is very special to me because it is to my parents. I will try not to get too emotional tonight but please forgive me as I CANNOT remember life without the Red Heads in it. Nor would I want to. My father Orwell “Red” Moore and his wife, my mother, Lorene, dedicated their entire lives to the Red Heads and their families. Thank you both for promoting, loving, living and respecting the game of basketball. Thank you for proving a passion combined with a good strategic business plan could tear the roof off of limitations.

The Red Heads thrilled fans with their fancy passing, crafty ball handling, deceptive play patterns, clever ruses, amusing routines and GREAT BASKETBALL. Demands for the team were so plentiful that some years there were two or three teams traveling the country.

The All American Red Heads broke the mold, and a number of these men and women who gave their lives to basketball join me on stage tonight. There are hundreds more who could not be with us.

We would also like to thank John Molina, who believed in Coach Moore’s dream and helped educate others and promote the dream. Thank you for being a friend to him and keeping his hopes and dreams alive. Also, to Matt Zeysing, thank you for preserving, in writing, the legacy of the All American Red Heads.

My father never gave up on the idea that the All American Red Heads would someday reach the goal of being enshrined into the Naismith Hall of Fame. He knew this to be the definitive honor in the game of basketball. We thank you for recognizing the work of the All American Red Heads and for celebrating our part in the game of basketball. Thank you. May God Bless.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

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