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The Spike Golden Jubilee Number May 1949

Women's Outdoor Basketball Club

Women's Outdoor Basketball Club

On August 15th, 1917, a meeting of women students was held to consider the formation of a Basketball Club. The Club was formed, and, with its purpose "to provide recreation for students who can spare only a short time from study," it flourished, with a membership of forty. Practices were held in the gym. on Thursday nights at 8 p.m. and Tuesday afternoons at 4 p.m. The fact that practices could be held at 4 p.m. shows the different attitude these pioneers of our Club had towards their basketball. Today there would be less than half a dozen girls willing or able to practise in the afternoon—such is the life of a part-time student. Basketball had first been demonstrated in New Zealand at Auckland in 1907. Some years later associations were formed in Auckland, Wellington, Canterbury and Otago. V.U.C, therefore, was not late in taking up basketball, and it must be remembered that in 1917 they were playing a game still in the process of formation, a game in which rules were changing every year until basketball emerged as it is today, a game of skill and not brawn.

At this time also, the Wellington Association was trying to arrange inter-club play. By October, 1919, Victoria had played three outside games against Normal School, Girls' College and Miss Baber's girls. In 1920 under the captaincy of Miss Smith the Club took advantage of the Association's offer and entered into the competitions. Here at Clyde Quay grounds began those Saturday matches which today give basketball its meaning. Practices were still held in the gym. but afternoon play had become impossible.

The first surge of energy in the Club soon began to wane and in 1921 only one team was playing. The bugbear of present day basketball was beginning to appear—difficulty in arranging practices. However, some enthusiasm was aroused by the prospect of playing the Easter Tournament, and finally V.U.C. entered a team in the 17th Tournament. It was defeated. By the end of the season Club spirit had become very low—a coach was lacking and practices impossible to arrange.

The following year the Club was at its lowest ebb and seemed to remain an insignificant part of College life until 1924 when it reappeared with new vigour, determined to be more than a source of amusement to the rest of the Clubs.

That year it entered two teams in local competitions and for the first time these teams featured prominently. In the same year the Club won the Basketball Shield at Tournament. The matches were played at Kelburn Park with three teams only competing. Canterbury, today out-passing all the Colleges in Basketball, was not in a position to field a team in 1924. Further honours fell to Victoria when three players were picked as Wellington representatives—Misses D. Crompton (Captain), O. Sheppard, D. Pillar.

In 1925, things slipped badly in the Club. The teams were unsuccessful in local competitions and there was no entry for tournament. The Club had no coach. The President of the New Zealand Basketball Association now took a hand in affairs and put forward an eloquent plea for the inclusion of basketball permanently in Tournament, on the grounds that it would become the national game for girls, and that the 'Varsity girls had put up a good fight for their Club. We must feel grateful for this Past President and her work in defence of our game; for in 1926 basketball was officially included in Tournament.

In 1927, the supply of coaches seems to have resembled that of 1948-49. With a membership of forty and three teams in the competitions the lack of a coach was a serious problem. For practice the Club was forced to play against the Rugby Club. However, at Tournament, Victoria defeated Canterbury and lost to Auckland.

1928 found a coach for the Club—Miss O. M. Sheppherd—but no outstanding success came our way at Tournament. In 1930, Club membership page 109 had increased sufficiently to enter three teams in local games, the teams appearing for the first time in their now well-known 'green and gold.' The Club achieved moderate success in 1931 and 1932. In 1935, the services of Miss P. Quinlan were secured as coach, and Miss J. Grainger, one of the players, received representative honours. The following year the team won distinction in Tournament beating Canterbury and Otago, on the strength of which six V.U.C. Blues were awarded. It must be remembered that over all these years practices were being held in the gym. The inconvenience of playing on a wooden, and often very slippery, surface is quite obvious. The Club was at this time reaching the highest peak of its achievement. In 1937, captained by Miss N. Bullen and coached by Miss Quinlan, Victoria won the Basketball Shield. New Zealand University Blues were awarded to Misses R. Drummond, M. Bell, and S. Phillips, while the whole team received V.U.C. Blues. However, in the local competitions the Senior team was only half way in its grade. Perhaps after Tournaments enthusiasm dies down.

The following year produced success in both fields. With Miss Walker as captain and Miss P. Higgin as Secretary-Treasurer, the Club entered two teams in the competition. Of these, the Senior A team finished third, and produced three Wellington representatives. At Tournament the team performed better than ever. It seemed that at last Auckland's run was broken. Although half the team was new to Tournament, it nevertheless scooped the pool, replacing experience with fitness and combination. Blues were freely awarded including four New Zealand University Blues. The question was, could this success last? It seemed not, for, although the 1939 team won brilliantly at Tournament, its spirit was weakening, and in the competitions the Club played patchy basketball.

In 1940, Miss P. Higgin, a staunch member of the Club, tried to fan the dying interest but met with little success. The second team played fourth grade and here did quite well. This was no doubt due to the efforts of Mr Max Riske and Miss Walker who coached the Club. Tournament brought honours to Auckland by a narrow margin, but Victoria in winning three New Zealand University Blues showed that as yet she had not lost Tournament standard.

The inevitable result of the war years became apparent in all Club functions during 1942 and 1943. No New Zealand University Blues were awarded lest the standard be lowered. In looking back, this decision seems uncalled for since on account of it several worthy players lost their opportunity. Instead of playing in the Annual Tournament a completely inexperienced team visited Auckland in the winter of 1942. They managed to draw with their hosts.

The Basketball Club can have held little interest for the students of 1944, 45, 46. Indeed, in 1946 The Spike reports that the Club was truly in the doldrums. It had returned once more to the lowly position it had held in 1922 and 1923 and every eligible Club member was called on to form a Tournament team.

Miss Gay Nimmo seems to have infused life into the Club once more in 1947. A decision was wisely made to field no Senior A team until we could be sure of winning one game in that grade, and so our top team held its own in the Senior B Grade, and its spasmodic success livened up a declining Club. Victoria featured in Wellington representative teams again when Miss Julie Dean was asked to play Senior A basketball for Wellington, and Miss Scott made the Intermediate team. The same year the Club was very ably coached by Mr Budden at St Joseph's Court.

And so we come to 1948 with Miss Gay Nimmo once more as captain, and three teams entered in the competitions—the top team again playing Senior B. Miss A. Richardson played in the Senior B Wellington team, and Miss J. Scott, though asked to play, was unavailable.

The question is—are we on the upsurge again? Several of our keener members are leaving and feel that it would be unfair to take a place in the 1949 Tournament team. As yet we have no coach and we fear lest this should cause the apathy among Club members that it has in the past. For it seems to follow 'no coach means no practice—no practice no success—no success no enthusiasm.' Let us pray for a coach.

June Scott