|THE KEENE STATE COLLEGE MAGAZINE FOR ALUMNI AND FRIENDS||VOLUME XIX NUMBER 2 Winter 2004|
Don't Cross the Center Line!
You never know where you're going to find a Keene State College sports fan.
Playing at the Grand Canyon Classic in Phoenix, Ariz., during the holiday break, the Keene State women's basketball team was surprised to find an ally in the stands. Wearing her Keene State T-shirt and matching red sneakers, Glenna Burney Phelps '55 had traveled from her home in nearby Scottsdale to see the Owls in action.
Phelps, a 70-year-old alumna of Keene Teachers College, had been eagerly awaiting the team's arrival since Thanksgiving. "We were talking about basketball during Thanksgiving dinner, and my son Craig (the team physician for Grand Canyon University) informed me that the team from Keene was coming," said Phelps, who was disappointed that she didn't get to see the KSC men's basketball team play in the tournament the previous year.
I was thrilled to death to see the women's team play," said Phelps, a retired elementary school teacher who moved to Arizona in 1960 and taught for 35 years. "It brought back so many memories.
"My friend went with me to the first game, and I told her, 'I don't believe I was ever that young or skinny,'" added Phelps with a huge laugh.
Although she was a sports enthusiast while growing up in Charlestown, N.H., Phelps never got a chance to test her athletic skills in intercollegiate competition as a KTC student in the early 1950s. However, she took full advantage of the many intramural programs available to women at the time.
"We played every sport we could find," said Phelps, one of the few women at the College to letter in all four sports – field hockey, soccer, basketball, and softball. "Some of us lived for basketball."
Phelps recalled that the women's basketball teams, dressed in their bloomer shorts, played "red and white" games at the old Spaulding Gym. They followed "girl rules": Each team had three forwards and three guards who could not cross the center line. Forwards did all the shooting, she explained, and two passes had to be made before a shot attempt.
The biggest honor was being selected to the intramural all-star team and traveling to Plymouth for their annual grudge match. It was an honor she received three times.
Phelps even took the opportunity to practice with several men's teams on campus. "I loved playing tennis," said Phelps, who recalled racing over to the courts after classes. "The men didn't mind hitting with me; it let them stay on the court longer."
In the fifties, everyone ate downstairs at Fiske Hall, Phelps remembers. While the guys were still eating, all the women would run up and grab the pool and ping-pong tables. "When the guys finished eating, we let them play," she said. "It was a great way to meet guys."
Phelps said watching Keene State play in the Grand Canyon Classic allowed her to connect with the College again and relive her past. "I had a ball," she said. "I couldn't tell you how excited I was. I would've been crushed if they came out here and I hadn't known about it."
KSC Coach Keith Boucher and the Owl women's basketball team presented Phelps with an autographed ball after their last game.
"I thought that it was great that she took the time out of her day to see us play," Boucher said. "She must have left Keene State with a positive impression and wanted to come out and support her school."
"I was thrilled and felt like a celebrity," Phelps added. "I never had that much attention paid to me before."
Glenna is looking forward to her 50th reunion in 2005. She'd like to hear from Keene friends at PhelpsReteach@aol.com.
Stuart Kaufman is KSC's sports information coordinator.