Women's Hoops Blog

Inane commentary on a game that deserves far better

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Some basketball genealogy uncovered because of a couple of emails received in response to the Bertha Nolan post:
I read your posting on the death of Bertha Nolan. I was surprised the connection to Dianne Nolan who coached Fairfield University's women's basketball team for over two decades was not mentioned.

Similarly, few people realize the mother of Kathy Delaney Smith, long-time Harvard coach, was a pioneer in the women's game in Massachusetts. I believe that lady (last name was Delaney) coached at Newton North High School, just outside Boston.
A little research finds the following tidbit from in Nolan's induction bio for the Connecticut Women's Basketball Hall of Fame:
It's no accident or surprise that Dianne Nolan pursued a career in basketball. The game has been an integral part of her life - she started playing the game in a 6th grade CYO League. She was surrounded by a family of basketball players. Dianne's brother played for Temple University and her Mom coached for 36 years, winning many championships. Dianne was a two-time All Conference player and senior Co-Captain for the Gloucester Catholic High School girls' basketball team. The team won conference championship every year she was there. Dianne continued her education at Glassboro State College where she played field hockey, tennis, and basketball all four years while earning a degree in Health and Physical Education
As for Delaney-Smith's basketball roots, a little noodling discovered Newton's Mayor David Cohen's 2003 press conference :
Coach Smith has coached the Harvard women's basketball team for 21 successful seasons; and prior to that, was the coach for the Westwood High School Women's Basketball team for 6 undefeated regular seasons and 1 state championship. Coach Smith holds the distinction of being the first Massachusetts high school girls basketball player to score 1,000 points, all while playing for her mother, the late Peg Delaney, at Sacred Heart School of Newton.
A second email noted:
I used to live in Westfield, N.J., and the high school there finished second in a national tourney around 1924 or so. You might want to contact Westfield High School for more info.
Here's when I bow down to Google, for yea it led me to Hoopedia: The Basketball Wiki. There I found the following information about the Girls National Interscholastic Basketball Tournament.
In 1924 Westfield High inaugurated a national championship for girls’ basketball, offering as the prize, the Westfield Challenge Cup. The Girls National Interscholastic lasted only four short years, but the tourney brought together schools from as far away from each other as Idaho and New York. In 1924, the championship was held at Harrison High, in Roselle Park, New Jersey, not far from Westfield High. Westfield, which claimed the New York state and Eastern championships contested the national championship in a three games series with Guthrie High of Oklahoma, who claimed-be best in the West. Guthrie bested Westfield in the series with two consecutive victories.
Thanks Bob and Vincent.

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