17 July 2009

Six on Six

Last night I went to see "Six on Six: The Musical." As soon as I heard about this play, I knew I was going to want to see it, adding to that the fact that it is a musical and the big bonus that one of my teacher friends was acting in it and it was a sure thing. I stopped by the Hoyt Sherman box office and was able to get a seat in the front row! (Amazing what flexibility buying a single gives you!) The show was fun and interesting and did a good job of showing both sides to the argument over ending six on six. It also called to memory the magic of Vets and the girls state tournament. They had the tuxedo'ed guys doing the choreographed dustmopping just like in the Barn. The crowd was heavily tilted toward older women, many of whom played the game being sung about. There was a slide show during intermission showing photos of all the state champions since back in the 20's. Being in the front row, I could turn around and see all these women's faces following the pictures, discussing, laughing, and pointing. And, yes, I was pretty proud when Farragut came across for 1971.

Being a big advocate and fan of sports, I've always been proud and envious of the tradition and success that Farragut girls basketball enjoyed under Leon Plummer. I actually wrote a research paper on him in high school (which I wish I still had). I poked around online this morning and came up with a few links to share. He was inducted into the Iowa Girls Coaches Hall of Fame in 2003, he won 86% of his games (a 426-68 record) over 19 years and took 10 teams to State. There are a couple mentions of him in the book, The Only Dance in Iowa, which I have if anyone wants to borrow. Chuck Offenburger, who has written a book about E. Wayne Cooley that I want to read, wrote this column about the state tournament and mentions the Farragut coach. Plummer died of a heart attack at only 41. I'm very happy that our wonderful gym was dedicated to him. It is not surprising that when I share the name of my hometown with someone older than me, it is very common for them to say something like, "Yeah, I know it. Good girls basketball teams."

I couldn't remember what grade I was in when FHS switched to five on five, so I dug out the yearbooks and, like many schools, Farragut held out until the last year possible, switching after the 1993 season. "All Things Must Change" is the motto featured prominently on the '94 seasons pages. We also switched from Admiralettes (Adettes for short) to Admirals that same year. Although Lady Admirals was often used too, which I thought was ridiculous. I remember that it was a controversial thing, but that some of our girls were very excited to switch. I also recall a big learning curve for some of the girls (especially the guards). While flipping through the yearbook pages, I had forgotten how poor our girls teams were for some of those years. I remember vividly stating "Boys won, girls lost" for my standard response when I would get home from watching the games when I was in junior high. For the '91, '91 and '93 seasons they racked up two, seven and four wins, respectively. After switching to five on five, they won ten and fifteen games in '94 and '95. Nice job adapting, plus they had new coaches and a talented group of players.


  1. mind-blowing trivia fact: Mediapolis (whom Farragut beat in '71 in a big upset) had a 333-8 home record under their legendary coach, Bud McLearn.

  2. Such a great post, love the girls' basketball back in the late 60's and early 70's--my best friend was on the team that beat Mediapolis team to win state!! We had sectionals for the boys at Farragut when I was in high school. I would have loved seeing the play Six on Six.

  3. 333-8! yowza!

    I think by the time my female peers passed through FHS some fundamental understanding of the 6-6 strategy had been lost. I remember watching some excruciatingly stilted and hesitant basketball.