All American Red Heads uniform
Gail Marks
Becky Harp Pritchett

The All American Red Heads were one of the first professional women's basketball teams. In 1936, almost 50 years after women's basketball began, C. M. "Ole" Olson (who also founded Oson's Terrible Swedes) started a barnstorming team which would play around the country until 1986.[1] The name of the team came from Olson's wife, who owned a number of beauty salons in the south.[2] They played by men's rules and were a smash success with the audience. They were so successful as an exhibition team that they fostered two other teams, the Ozark Hillbillies and the Famous Red Heads.

Two of the early players for the team were Geneva (Jean) and Jo Langerman. Jean and Jo were the twin daughters of "Mama" Langerman, an unmarried beautician who moved from town to town. The twins led three teams to the state tournament, finishing third in 1931 at Whittemore, Iowa, and winning the state championships while at Parkersburg, and Hampton, Iowa in 1932, and 1933. Following their high school career, they played for an AAU team, winning the national championship[3] in 1934, then joined the All American Red Heads.[4] As a result of their accomplishments, they were inducted into the Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union Basketball Hall of Fame.[5]

Orwell Moore, a high school coach, coached two of the teams from 1948 and then purchased them. The teams boasted AAU All-American players and stars like Peggy Lawson, Kay Kirkpatrick, and Hazel Walker.[6] Other stars included Willa “Red” Mason, Johnny Farley, Barb Hostert, Jolene Ammons and Cheryl Clark. Orwell Moore's wife, Lorene “Butch” Moore, was also a spectacular Red Heads player. Through the 1960s and 1970s, three teams toured. During the off-season, players taught basketball to girls. Orwell also began Camp Courage, a basketball camp for girls. Charlotte Adams, Glenda Hall, Kay O'Bryan and Jolene Ammons became player coaches.

The All American Red Heads had up to three teams on the road at the same time. Seasons ran from October to late April or early May. The season consisted of approximately 200 games and the teams would travel over 60,000 miles by car.[7]

* Breaking The Press: The Incredible Story of The All American Red Heads Book - Amazon

Awards and honors

In February 2010, the team was honored at part of National Girls and Women in Sports Day in Minnesota.[8]

In July 2010, the All American Red Heads were honored at the Senior Pan-American games in Eugene, Oregon. They also had a reunion there. It was at this tournament that players laced up their sneakers one more time and played alumni from the NBA Portland Trail Blazers.

The team was honored by the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame for their contributions to the game. The team was recognized in a display entitled "Trailblazers of the Game" at the 2011 Induction Ceremony on June 11, 2011.[9][10]

On April 2, 2012, the team was announced as a member of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame induction class of 2012. The Red Heads were formally enshrined on September 7.[11]

In 2017 the team was inducted into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame.

In 2020 the team will be inducted into the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame.

See also


  1. ^ DOYLE, PAUL (March 2, 2012). "Brush With History: All-American Red Heads Featured In Exhibit At XL Center". The Hartford Courant. Retrieved 4 March 2012.
  2. ^ Lannin, Joanna (2000). A History of Basketball for Girls and Women. Lerner Publishing Group. pp. 50–51. ISBN 0-8225-3331-6.
  3. ^ Lannin, Joanna (2000). A History of Basketball for Girls and Women. Lerner Publishing Group. p. 56. ISBN 0-8225-3331-6.
  4. ^ McElwain, Max (2004). The Only Dance in Iowa. University of Nebraska Press. pp. 121–123. ISBN 0-8032-8299-0.
  5. ^ "IGHSAU". Archived from the original on 2008-10-06. Retrieved 12 December 2008.
  6. ^ Lannin, Joanna (2000). A History of Basketball for Girls and Women. Lerner Publishing Group. pp. 70–71. ISBN 0-8225-3331-6.
  7. ^ Johnson, William; Nancy Williamson (May 6, 1974). "All Red, So Help Them Henna". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved 12 March 2011.
  8. ^ "2010 Award Winners". National Girls and Women in Sport Coalition. Retrieved 3 February 2010.
  9. ^ "Women's Basketball Hall of Fame All-American Red Heads Recognized at 2011 Induction" (PDF). WBHOF. Archived from the original (PDF) on 17 May 2011. Retrieved 12 March 2011.
  10. ^ "2011 Special Group Recognition". Women Basketball Hall of Fame. Archived from the original on 2011-08-09. Retrieved 2011-07-28.
  11. ^ "Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Announces Class of 2012" (Press release). Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. April 2, 2012. Archived from the original on April 5, 2012. Retrieved April 2, 2012.