Jennifer was at Morningside when I was and was a key fixture on the first Women’s teams. She is one of only a few people who have two sections in this book as she also became a pioneer in officiating in the Tri-State area. Her memories of her time in basketball, both as a player in the early years and as a 35 year+ official, is worth the read. Here is an excerpt of her player section.
I applied for an academic scholarship at Briar Cliff, and I didn’t get it, so I thought, ‘Well, I’m toast; I don’t know what I’m going to do now.’ My friend, Janet from Kingsley, got the scholarship, because we were going to go together. We were friends, and her brothers and sisters had gone to Briar Cliff, too. I just didn’t know what I was going to do, and then a Morningside recruiter was out at school, and the guidance counselor asked if I would talk to him, and I said, ‘Yeah, sure.’ My brother had gone to Morningside because of football, but I just always thought I’m supposed to go to Briar Cliff.
This Morningside recruiter just said, “Are you in sports?” I said, “Yeah.” “Are you in activities?” I said, “Yeah.” “Do you get good grades?” “Yeah.” He said, “Well, I think Morningside can take care of you,” and I said, “Okay,” and I didn’t even know what he was offering. Well, it ended up being a very nice academic scholarship, and back then, we called them National Defense Loans. Then I think it became student direct loans, and I got work-study. I got a great package deal, but none of us ever talked about playing college sports or that the opportunity was there, so I just went into Allee gym and just started shooting baskets.
Then I heard that this team was going to be forming, and so I went for it, and that’s how we started. I played on the teams that were formed in the winter of 1971–72 through 1974–75. These very early teams were all volunteer players and coaches. No players were offered scholarships at that time. It was more of a club team situation, although there was a league formed with other colleges in the area. The first coaches that I remember were players from the men’s team, and I believe they were taking a coaching class at Morningside, and part of the credit for the class was based on their coaching the women’s team. I remember coaches Doug Nelson and Rick Weaver. I don’t know if coach Nelson continued to coach beyond Morningside, but I do know that coach Weaver became a very successful college coach, spending most of his career at Baker University in Baldwin City, Kansas.