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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Sandra Kay Yow, June 22, 2005. Interview G-0244. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Playing girls basketball at Gibsonville High School

Yow describes her experiences with playing basketball at Gibsonville High School during the late 1950s. Noting that not all schools in the area had athletics programs for girls, Yow argues that girls sports were equally as popular as boys sports in the community. She goes on to explain that for her, the appeal of athletics was in the challenge to excel and in confidence-building.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Sandra Kay Yow, June 22, 2005. Interview G-0244. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

Let's go back to basketball for a minute. In Gibsonville obviously the high schools and I guess the junior highs had a boy's team and a girl's team. Was there a difference in how those two teams were viewed?
Well, it's interesting because I went to Gibsonville High School which was a Guilford County high school. Just six miles away was Burlington, and Walter Williams High School in Burlington was a city school. There were no teams for girls at Walter Williams High School, but six miles away in a county school [there were]. In Alamance, where Burlington is, they had county schools, and they had teams, but not the city school. It's interesting because if I had just lived six miles away within a city, I would not have had the opportunity to play. But because I went to Gibsonville High School, a county school, I had that opportunity. The gym was packed for both the boy's and the girl's games. At that time you played the girl's varsity and the boy's varsity games together, and then the JV's played their games together. It was packed for both, just supported. The community and the town supported both teams. I felt we had a great opportunity, and high school would not have been anything like high school to me if I hadn't been playing basketball. It added something to that total experience that was unbelievable, and if I hadn't had it, I would have missed so much. But there weren't college teams so I was never thinking about really going to college. I just accepted it didn't exist. I didn't expect it. I mean that's the way that was. So when I was in college I always felt like something was missing, and it wasn't until after I graduated from college, [when] I got a job and I started coaching that I realized it had been sports. That's what it had been all along. That's what I was missing, and I didn't understand that when I was in college.
What did you like about basketball? Why did you like it so much?
I think that I like basketball. That just happens to be my sport. It could have been another sport, but I think it was just the challenge that sport brings. I thrive on the challenge of it. Working to become the best that you can become, to develop whatever talents you have to your potential, and then to go out and test them against someone else. It's just a challenge, and it's fun. I just have a love for competition, and I feel it's a love in the right direction because I think competing with people rather than against people, it's just a mindset. It's how you arrange your mind about competition. I don't think you can perform as well when you go out with a mindset, 'I'm going to complete against these people.' It's nothing against anybody that you're competing with, but that's what you're doing, competing with them. You just give the best that you have and they give the best they have, and if at the end you've even gotten a little bit better because of that experience in itself. You know there can be only one winner on the score board, but there could be all winners, as people. I realized this early on: if you give the best that you have that when it's all said and done you may have a disappointment on the score board, but there are other ways to win. Trying and giving your best is the greatest way to win because you may be disappointed, but really if you did give your best and you played really well, after a period of time you feel good, long term, that you did that. It was sort of like striving to be valedictorian. It is the same type of thing. In the end you want to be able to, as people say, 'look yourself in the mirror and just know that you've given your best.' It's just exciting. It's a game. It doesn't really count in the course of life in a lot of ways. It's not a life and death situation, but sometimes it can seem like it a little. But it's almost like some parts of sport are practice for real life. You're working on developing certain qualities and characteristics that can help you succeed in life and no matter what you do. You learn about discipline. If you really want to compete and be good you have to learn about discipline, and you understand commitment to excellence, and sacrifice, and dedication, and just like hard work, and the important part that enthusiasm plays in success. You start to learn about the ability to work with people, being a great team person, and also being a leader. You just learn so much in sports.