Tickets to the past – Old hoops tickets spark years of memories
All kids enjoy exploring their houses, and 8-year-old Jan Roth was no different – except the exploring Roth did took place in 1950, when she and her family rented a house on Richardson Street in Grass Valley.
Roth remembers playing one day when she decided to explore what a crack in the dry wall contained. After reaching inside, she pulled her arm out of the wall and with it she brought two old basketball tickets to light.
One was a girls basketball ticket and one was for a boys game, with the girls game dated February 25, 1916.
Nearly 55 years have now passed since she found those tickets and to this day she has kept them safe in the bottom of her jewelry box. Every move or new town she lived in, the tickets came with her, as she felt that some day they might have special meaning to someone.
Two weeks ago, Roth noticed that a few players from the Nevada Union girls basketball team were on the agenda to speak at her Soroptimist meeting. She decided that this was a perfect time to break out the old tickets.
“I wanted the girls to know that people have always supported girls basketball in this town and have done so for nearly 100 years,” Roth said. “People paid just as much to see the boys play, as they would to see the girls play back then. People always held sports in high esteem and I wanted them to understand the history of their sport in the community.”
Four seniors on the Nevada Union basketball team, including guard Tracy Malone had a chance to see the tickets and hear Roth’s story.
“It’s weird to think how old those tickets are,” Malone said. “It’s funny that she kept them so long, but we definitely appreciated that she kept the tickets and we got to see them.”
And Roth is right to point out that girls basketball has had quite a history in Grass Valley and Nevada City.
In 1912, Grass Valley High School and Nevada City High School were among the first high schools in the area to add girls basketball programs. Because of the lack of girls basketball programs in the area, the teams had trouble finding enough opponents. In addition to playing each other and playing intersquad games, GVHS and NCHS traveled as far as Oroville to play games.
The location on the ticket from 1916 says Pavilion Rink. The Pavilion Rink was located at what was once Lake Olympia in the early 1900s and has now become the Brunswick Basin.
Roth remembers not only basketball being played there, but roller skating was popular at the Pavilion as well.
During these early years the game was played extremely different than it is today. From 1912 until 1938, six players from each team were on the court and the court was split into thirds. Two girls from each team played in their slice of the court and weren’t allowed to cross the lines.
In 1938, the court was spilt into halves and the local game remained that way until 1971, when the five-player, full-court action was introduced.
Dot Austin was a former basketball player from Grass Valley High School in 1947 and was named outstanding athlete that same year. While she wishes girls would have been allowed to play full court during the time she was playing, she still remembers the support the community gave girls basketball.
“The stands were always full and the town supported us fully in all sports, not just basketball,” Austin said. “Basketball, really all sports, have come a long way since then.”
In 1952, the two high schools were unified into one school, Nevada Union High School. During the 1952 school year, 58 girls played basketball at NUHS.
The modern day era of the NU girls basketball program began in 1976 with coach Linda Miller. The next two years Gary Musick coached the team and from 1979-1983 Kurt Stenderup took the reigns.
Most recently, Craig Strohm took over the program in 1984 and coached through the 2004 season, with a brief break in 1986-87.
The late ’80s and ’90s were a highly successful time for the NU girls basketball program, as the Miners won the Capital Athletic League title in ’90, ’91, ’94, ’99, ’00 and ’01. During that time, the program also won Sac-Joaquin Section titles in ’89, ’90, ’91, ’95 and ’99 and made NorCal Final Four appearances in ’89, ’90, ’91, ’94 and ’95.
From 1979 to 2004, the Miners have never finished lower than fourth place in league play.
“I don’t see anything changing (to the success of girls basketball in the area),” current Nevada Union girls basketball coach Duwaine Ganskie said. “Kids are still coming to games and want to be part of program when they get older and the community is still supportive of providing them opportunities to play … the future looks good.”
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The Little League District 11 postseason is off to a hot start.