Susan Spess Shay

Still playing make believe.


Game Change


Mama when she played basketball

When I was in high school, C-Town didn’t have basketball for girls. Happily, by the time my younger sibs were in high school, they did. And (much to Mama’s delight!) they not only played, most of them excelled.

Sister Debbie and I, though, were only cheerleaders.

Sisters Cindy and Lisa and Omega were all great players. But basketball has changed for girls so over the years! Cindy and Lisa played half-court ball. I don’t remember if Omega played half-court or full court, but she played!

And now Omega’s youngest daughter is playing.

Omega and her daughter. (Daughter doesn't wear this dress when she plays.)

Omega and her daughter. (Daughter doesn’t normally wear this dress when she plays. Or ever.)

And, not surprisingly, she’s pretty darn good. (Said her aunt who couldn’t be a bit prejudiced and couldn’t hit a basket without a tall ladder.)

So Friday afternoon, Dad and I went to watch this young’un do her stuff. Naturally, she jammed her finger before we got there and didn’t play a whole lot, but we got to see some.

While the other girls played and our Little Bit sat out to let her finger heal, Dad and I got to talking about how much bball has changed for girls.

Apparently, since they switched out the peach basket for a hoop, the guys haven’t changed all that much. But girls?

Back when Mama played–

  • Girls play half court–six girls from each team on the floor.
  • Girls could only dribble once (that’s one bounce!) and then they had to pass the ball.
  • Girls couldn’t take the ball away from one another. They could try to catch it when it was being passed, but absolutely could not try to snatch it out of their hands.

There are probably other differences, like what they wore or how they held their pinky while they served tea at half time, but those are the ones I heard about.

I asked Dad why for each of those old rules, and he had one answer for all of them. It wasn’t feminine.

Dribbling more than once wasn’t girlish? Ooookay.

I come from a long line of storytellers. Dad is no exception.

He told me about Old Ford’s team when Mama played. They had a tall girl (and great player) who had a hot overhead shot. She would hold the ball high and if a guard was blocking her,  she’d use the ball and push the other girl’s hands out of the way. And she nearly always made her shot.

And he followed that with another story.

Like today, back then if one of the girls got knocked down and lay there with her eyes closed, it stopped the game. So one girl, he said, got “knocked out,” stopping the entire game while everyone rushed to see if she were okay or if she needed a doctor.

Trouble was, while she was lying prone and “unconscious,” she forgot to stop chewing her gum.

By the way–the comment about serving tea was a joke.

I think. 😀



Got Game?

One of my favorite things this time of year?

Girls’ basketball.

Now don’t get me wrong. I was never a player (I was a cheerleader, though) because we didn’t have a girls’ team when I was the right age. And I don’t go to a lot of games, but I enjoy the ones I get to a bunch.

Hearing Mama talk about BB like I did when I was a kid was enough to make anyone a convert. She loved watching girls play. Even after she was an adult, she would go to all the games she could.

I never wondered why we attended Old ‘Ford’s games, even after we moved to C-Town. I just liked seeing my dad’s younger cousins play. Seeing those kids in their shiny/short uniforms and wearing big white knee pads was so much fun!

The gym in Old ‘Ford was more fun than you can imagine. I’ve never seen another one like it. There was one row of seats on the players’ level, and the rest were upstairs in the balcony area, where there were two rows of benches.

It was so exciting to get to go up there. According to legend (before my time) there was only a 2×4 rail, waist-high, all the way around the outside of the balcony. Nothing underneath to stop people from falling off.

Dad said that at that time, MOST people knew not to get so close to the edge, they fell off. He emphasized MOST because when his sister, Aunt Phyllis, was a kid, she sat on that railing, was playing around and fell off, onto the gym floor below. The fall broke her arm.

I didn’t know her at that time, since she’s my dad’s older sister, but from what I hear, Dushie (my name for her when I was a baby) was a very entertaining wild child and a ton of fun to be with.

My siblings all played basketball in high school, and most of them were pretty darn good.

This is my niece

Now we’re into the next generation. Dad’s youngest granddaughters are on the court these days. I got to see my first game of the season last night. I went by myself and thought I’d be sitting alone. Omega, score keeper for the middle school, saw me walk in and called my cell phone. “Come over here!” I looked up, and the refs were standing by her at the score keepers’ table, pointing at me (there she is!) and laughing at the look on my face.

Being the sweet sister I am, I traipsed around the gym. Ever feel like everyone in the place is watching to see if you’ll trip? 🙂

As I walked by the opposing team’s assistant coach, he said, “You look like a woman on a mission.”

“I’ve been summoned by my sister. What can I do but obey?” 😉

I got to sit right there, close enough to our team to hear what the coach yells at them. (I didn’t understand it, but I could hear it.) “High, low! High, low!” and “D-Up!”

The coach even hollered a couple of states. I think. I’m not sure if there are girls on the team who go by those names or if he names his plays, but it was interesting.

Got to meet his little girl, too. The tyke walked straight across the court at half-time to show Omega her sparkly black boots. (Now I want some!)

And I learned a thing or two.

  • There are different sizes of basketballs–one for girls, and another for boys. (I had to be careful writing that sentence!)
  • Refs have a sense of humor, even while they’re making bad calls. (Faith did NOT knock that girl down.)
  • Refs will answer the score keeper if she hollers that he made a bad call. “Stop it. That’s not your daughter,” they’ll say.
  • Spectators can’t get in trouble as long as they keep their mouths shut and don’t get physical. Mean looks can’t get you thrown out of the game. (I tested that theory when Faith did NOT knock that girl down.)
  • Refs have to be tough or they’ll get their feelings hurt bad. “Got a rope. Got a tree . . . Now all we need’s . . . (can anyone finish that cheer?) 😛

“Yeah, I’m told I made a bad call at nearly every game.” (He was cute, so it was okay.)

  • At tournaments, there’s usually a secret room filled with yummy munchies (they call it a hospitality room, but I can think of much better names for it) for coaches, refs and score keepers, ONLY. Players and spectators (and sisters of the score keeper) aren’t allowed.
  • After the game, every girl on each team slaps hands with every girl on the other and says, “Good game! Good game!” If there’s 15 girls on each team, and each girl says “Good game!” fifteen times, that’s 225 ‘good games’ all echoing through the gym at the same time.

I kept waiting for a Chevy-Chase-Christmas-Vacation-girl to go through the line. “Good game. Good Gravy. Good Golly Miss Molly,” but it didn’t happen. (Would anyone notice if they did?)

Have you been to a girls’ basketball game lately? Did you learn anything?  Can you finish that cheer?


Happy, Happy Birthday, #4!


It seems like just last year I told you the same thing. 🙂 Time flies when you’re having fun, doesn’t it?

I have a little test to see if you’re losing your mind from living in that foreign country (Kansas Country.)

  • Who got shut up in the clothes dryer?
  • Who dreamed a witch was cutting off her leg?
  • Who crawled the day she came home from the hospital?
  • Who was the STAR! of her first grade play?
  • Who was number four in a line of girls, so she sparkled plenty to get attention?
  • Who could run faster and jump higher than anyone else, just because Mama wanted her to be a good basketball player?
  • Who took care of her older sister when the mean girls picked on her?
  • Who was Grandmother’s favorite noodle unroller?
  • Who named all her dolls Deara?
  • Who “saved” her oldest sister in life saving?
  • Who is so claustrophobic she nearly couldn’t get baptised?
  • Who was so tender headed, Mama called her Grandma Reeves?
  • Who got lost when she looked in the barrel marked, “For men only”
  • Who loves you the mostest?

Happy birthday, #4. Love you and miss you!!!


I’m Named After Basketball Shoes

I promised my friend, Larry Lawrence, I’d tell how I was named after a pair of basketball shoes. Okay, Larry, this one’s for you.


My mother’s name was Mary Sue, but when she was in school, everyone called her Sue. Grandma didn’t like it, but there you go.

Now, my mama was a very pretty little girl.

And according to people in the know, she was even prettier when she got older.

I’m not sure how old she is here, but she’s a teenager.

When she was in school, she played basketball. In those days, basketball shoes were made out of canvas. Not leather. And apparently the thing in The Ford school at that time was to write your name on your shoes.

Always being ahead of the others, Mama wrote her name and my daddy’s name on her shoes. (This was before they were married and, of course, before I was born.)

Then one day, they were playing an out of town team. (I imagine a tournament when several teams were there, but I’m not sure.)

Anyway, when she wasn’t playing, Mom left her basketball shoes sitting somewhere, and went to talk to her someday husband. A boy who’d noticed her good looks saw her shoes, picked them up and carried them to her.

“Are these your shoes?” he asked, flirting with her according to my dad.

“Yeah, they are.” Mama glanced at them and nodded.

“Betcha I can guess your name.” Even though my dad was right there, the boy kept flirting.

“You can?”

“Yeah.” He pointed at what was written on her shoe. “I betcha it’s Sue Carol.”

“Nope.” In my mind, Mama glanced at Daddy, giving him a sweet smile as she answered. “But that’s what I’m going to name my first daughter.”

She did.

And they lived happily ever after.