Remembering All American Red Heads, women's basketball team - KCTV5 News

Remembering All American Red Heads, traveling women's basketball team

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Women's basketball has come a long way over the years.

Up until the 1930s, women weren't allowed to play because doctors said it was bad for their body. But one traveling women's team changed all that, and it began in Missouri.

They were called the All American Red Heads, and for 50 years, they entertained basketball fans in all 50 states.

This all-girls traveling team was started way back in 1936 in Cassville, MO. The team played thousands of games over that 50-year span and suited up nearly 330 players. They were good, really good - one traveling team once won 96 games in 96 days.

"We were just like sisters," Brenda O'Bryan Koester said.

Koester was fresh out of high school when she joined the All American Red Heads, a traveling professional women's basketball team, and she played with them from 1970 through 1973.

"We traveled seven nights a week and we played seven nights a week for seven months," she said.

The Red Heads quickly became known for their trick shots and incredible basketball skills. They also went toe-to-toe against male teams, shocking some and proving that women could play the sport.

"The Red Heads need to be remembered as the trailblazers of the game because we showed that women could play ball," Koester said.

"Women really weren't supposed to run up and down the floor and play the game like against men," said Kay O'Bryan Burk, who played with the Red Heads from 1972 through 1976.

But they did play against men and played very well. Most games were played in front of sold out crowds.

"I loved going in and talking to the people, especially the kids. And we stayed and signed autographs after each game," Burk said.

But it was the popularity of the sport that ultimately ended their run. Women's basketball blew up in the 70s and 80s, and the Red Heads played their final game in 1986.

The team was revisited in September of last year, when the Red Heads were inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame. A new book about the team is about to be released and there are even talks about a movie in the works. But the question every one really wants to know is - were they all really redheads?

"You had to be a redhead one way or another, and only our hair dresser knew for sure," Koester said.

Despite the hair color, one thing was for sure - the All American Red Heads could play.

The Red Heads' original traveling car as well as several uniforms are permanently on display in the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame in Knoxville, TN.

Go to for more information on the women's team.

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