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Dust Bowl Girls: The Inspiring Story of the Team That Barnstormed Its Way to Basketball Glory

3.72  ·  Rating details ·  895 ratings  ·  219 reviews
At the height of the Great Depression, Sam Babb, the charismatic basketball coach of tiny Oklahoma Presbyterian College, began dreaming. Like so many others, he wanted a reason to have hope. Traveling from farm to farm, he recruited talented, hardworking young women and offered them a chance at a better life: a free college education if they would come play for his basketb ...more
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published January 24th 2017 by Algonquin Books
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3.72  · 
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 ·  895 ratings  ·  219 reviews

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Cindy Burnett
Nov 19, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: net-galley
3.5 stars

As soon as I saw the cover and description for Dust Bowl Girls, I knew I had to read it. Both of my parents are from Oklahoma and still maintain close ties to the state. While my parents grew up in Ardmore, my grandfather lived for a while in Durant, and several of my relatives are buried there. Dust Bowl Girls details the extraordinary success of the women’s basketball team from Oklahoma Presbyterian College in the midst of the Depression. With incredible dedication and commitment, Sam
In todays competitive world (where higher education, collegiate sports, and scholarships are universally desirable and obtainable) it's good to remember prior to WWII college was typically out of reach for all but the elite - the white male elite, at that. Even then, it took until the mid to late seventies for equality to catch up with desire.

Prior to WWII, women were considered too muddleheaded, physically frail, not of temperament, given to vapors and such, to be aptly suited for college - le
Jul 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
A surprisingly good read. I wish I could remember how it came to my notice -- probably a goodreads friend liked a review. It seemed like something that I should give my attention to, given my interest in historical as well as fictional "college girls." Approaching it with a slightly weary sense of duty, I ended up being engrossed and entertained to a degree I didn't expect at all.

Oklahoma Presbyterian College, in Durant OK, in the year 1931 is far removed physically, culturally, and temporally f
Dee Arr
Sep 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, sports
Nowadays, it is seldom that a book pulls me in and forces me to continue turning the pages. “Dust Bowl Girls” was one of those books.

Author Lydia Reeder tells the story of the Oklahoma Presbyterian College Cardinals and their magical year in 1932. The book almost reads like a novel, as Ms. Reeder takes us deep into the history and personality of many of the players and people connected with the school’s female basketball team. Readers are also treated to in-depth histories of the players as well
Swooshing! Girls playing basketball in the 1930’s for the Oklahoma Presbyterian College’s Cardinals – that is the story told. Sam Babb, their agent and all the women who join the team have their backstories unfolded in their order of gathering. It was ok – I’m not sporty, but I spent my childhood at Dad’s bbgames so it was fun to be taken back to squeaky floors, random outfits and the disconcerting way people would shoot up straight to yell and shout advice, barely giving a girl time to hold tig ...more
Kimba Tichenor
The book tells the story of the 1932 AAU Women's basketball championship and the female students from Oklahoma Presbyterian College who overcame the odds and won the championship in the early years of the depression. In telling this story, the book offers a fascinating account of the politics and debates that engulfed women's basketball in the 1930s: Did strenuous physical activity endanger the overall health of the girls? Did it make girls too mannish? Would anyone watch girls play basketball? ...more
Jul 03, 2016 rated it liked it
Thanks to Net Galley for the ARC. This is a great story. If you like sports stories: read this book. If you like stories about underdogs; read this book. I would have gone with a four but there were plenty of times that the author repeated herself when it was not necessary. It is already a pretty short book, so that could have something to do with it.

I will not be remotely surprised when this book gets optioned to be a movie and wins a ton of awards.
Jul 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction, sports
This review originally published in Looking For a Good Book. Rated 5.0 of 5

Dust Bowl Girls, by Lydia Reeder, is one of the most exciting, informative, and thoroughly engaging non-fiction books I've read this year. This is a book that must be optioned for film -- it has all the ingredients for a truly spellbinding movie. Think Hoosiers, A League of Their Own, or The Blind Side.

Author Reeder has done an exhaustive amount of research on the coach, Sam Babb (a great-uncle of the author) and the wome
Jan 09, 2017 rated it liked it
This was a little more detailed than what I thought it would be. I assumed it would be about basketball and a basketball team. However, it got into the history of Oklahoma and the Trail of Tears and establishments and settlements. It had a lot of names and how much was paid for what. This would be a great book for someone who is really interested in the history of Oklahoma.

However, that was not the case for me. I had just wanted to read about this basketball team. What I was able to read about t
Margaret Sankey
May 07, 2016 rated it liked it
This is an exhaustive recreation of the 1932 women's basketball season at Oklahoma Presbyterian College. Unusual for being remarkably progressive, and being a school on contract with the Cherokee and Choctaw Nations to provide college educations for women, OPU recruited young women from dustbowl farms, ranches and factories. At the time, national collegiate athletics, led by Lou Hoover, campaigned to keep women ladylike and non-competitive, with special rules that made women's basketball look no ...more
Apr 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is a true story during WWII and the great depression about a small women's college in Durant OK whose ladies' basketball team was organized and coached by Sam Babb. He recruited girls he saw had talent on the basketball court and gave them all scholarships to the Oklahoma Presbyterian College. His coaching was unique in that he taught them to focus, not only on what they were doing on that court but also to anticipate what their teammates were doing, And what their opponents were going to d ...more
Sep 29, 2018 rated it it was ok
As the title implies, the chronicle of Coach Babb and the advancement of a women's competitive basketball team during the great depression was inspirational. Unfortunately, the story could have been told in a focused way without all the abrupt departures from the girl's experiences into general historical factoids. The author probably did additional research on the geographic region and the college but the book needed editing to make it more reader friendly. I didn't find myself eager to continu ...more
Ariel Hudnall
Jun 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
Oklahoma. The Dust Bowl. Women's basketball. The season that made history. The 1930s were a hard time for many, but none so much as the farmers of Oklahoma. At the time, poor families made dresses out of grain sacks, basketball players owned one pair of shoes, and college (especially for girls) was a distant dream. Coach Babb had different ideas. He toured the state, recruiting the strongest players he could find in the high school circuit; endowing those he found with skill, and more importantl ...more
Jan 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Lydia Reeder, great-niece of college women's basketball coach Sam Babb, lays out a story that deserved to be told in "Dust Bowl Girls: A Team's Quest for Basketball Glory."

In the midst of the Great Depression, Babb brings together a stellar group of athletes for the Oklahoma Presbyterian College Cardinals women's basketball team. It's a dream come true for these young women - all of them are from families that otherwise wouldn't be able to afford sending their daughters to college.

At a time when
Jan 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, netgalley
I'm not a big sports fan, but I do enjoy an occasional story about outstanding players or teams. I really liked "A League of Their Own," and this book seemed to be a similar type of story. If you have never heard of the OPC Cardinals, you are not alone. But they deserve to have their story shared, and for others to look at them as a source of inspiration. Just the idea that a bunch of farm girls attending a small, Christian college during the Dust Bowl years could actually win a national playoff ...more
Ms. Yingling
Jan 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
Really fascinating, but just too long and descriptive for my students. It read more like fiction, with a lot of descriptions of what the girls were thinking and feeling. That said, one of my 8th grade basketball players really wants to read this now. I especially liked that the author followed up on what the team members did later in life.
Adriana Cisco
This is a charming little book about women's basketball in Oklahoma during the dust bowl and great depression. Oklahoma Presbyterian College, under the direction of Sam Babb, was able to fund small-town, farm girls going to college through basketball scholarship. Throughout the book, the author contextualizes the significance of these women playing ball in the era. From the very dawn of the invention of basketball, women were playing, and they had a very strong fan base. However, organizations a ...more
Dec 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
This was great. I am not into sports (at. all.) but I found this story so compelling. A group of economically disadvantaged young women from rural Oklahoma defy all the naysayers and even the conventions of their time to become a champion basketball team during the depths of the Great Depression. We get perspective from several of them, including their backgrounds and their worries, and what comes through is their amazing dedication to their sport.
The details about how women's sports were viewe
Sandra Smith
Jun 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
Having been raised on a farm myself and having ancestors from rural Nebraska I was intrigued by this era and topic. I highly enjoyed the audiobook! I loved getting to know these talented farm girls who were plucked from their farms after graduating high school by a coach who offered them a free education to play basketball. I loved the storytelling and even the occasional side stories that added depth and background to the era. I had never heard of the OPC Cardinals before and now I will never f ...more
This is a story about a championship Women's basketball team during the depression and how Sam Babb went from farm to farm looking for talented young women to recruit. Sam Babb was a mid-western basketball coach for a tiny Oklahoma College but he as able to offer a free college education if they played basketball for the College. Lydia Reeder does a good job telling the stories of the women's struggles as the team developed. I did find the book a bit repeative and slow but so worth the read. It ...more
Vicki Valenta
Mar 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is the story of women's basketball from it's beginnings in the great depression. Every young lady who ever loved playing the game should read this book to see how it really was in it's early days. Teams played six on six with three players on offense and three on defense. They were not allowed to cross center court. Girls were not allowed to dribble. One below the knee dribble was allowed and then they had to pass. Popular thinking at the time was that physical activity was not healthy for ...more
Gwen Weddington
Feb 27, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: bookclub
I enjoyed this true story. I had never heard the story of the OPC Cardinals. I was surprised there was that much Women’s basketball in 1931. Definitely recommend this interesting read about teamwork and hardwork in spite of poverty and society expectations.
How I wish this was a shorter, more focused narrative nonfiction story and I know I can put it into a lot more kids' hands, but alas, it's too bloated. It's not necessarily a negative, but it does create disinterest after a while, as it did with me as an adult reader. Relevant to the title, the book details the specific stories of many of the girls on this basketball team that were given scholarships to attend school and play basketball in a time where there weren't many options other than livin ...more
Liz DeVarney
Feb 26, 2018 rated it liked it
I enjoyed the book. The reason why I gave it 3 stars is that it did not go as in-depth with the players as I thought it was going to. I liked the concept of writing a book on a women’s basketball team. I liked reading about some of the problems that the girls had to go through and the adventures that they took.
Jan 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
In the depths of the Great Depression, as the Dust Bowl was swallowing farms on the Great Plains, the town of Durant, Oklahoma, was swept up by sports -- women’s basketball, to be specific. The Cardinals of Oklahoma Presbyterian College had what sportswriters often refer to as “a magical season,” putting up a spotless record, beating powerhouse teams from Texas, uniting the town, and winning the 1932 Amateur Athletic Union championship over a Texas team led by noted athlete Babe Didrikson.

Feb 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
For author Lydia Reeder, Dust Bowl Girls is a family story. It was her one-legged great uncle Sam Rabb, the basketball coach and psychology professor at obscure Oklahoma Presbyterian College for women in Durant, OK who scoured the region for talent, offering the hardworking but talented daughters of sharecroppers and miners a free education if they came to OPC and played basketball. Reeder assembled the story of how these diverse (albeit all white) young women came together and through hard work ...more
Rachel Bhattacharyya
Dust Bowl Girls: A Team’s Quest for Basketball Glory by Lydia Reeder is a rich and delightful read. The book chronicles the history of the Oklahoma Presbyterian College Cardinals' quest for basketball success during a very challenging time in history – The Great Depression. The author’s great-uncle, Sam Babb, coached the Cardinals in the all-girl college (OPC) during the years of their initial success. Babb’s determination and actions offered many young women a life of opportunity. In return the ...more
Jun 26, 2017 rated it liked it
My grandmother played basketball as a girl. I knew the rules were different but didn't understand how. Having played basketball in high school I appreciated learning about the young women who paved the way in the male dominated sport and the opposition they were faced with.

I liked learning about the history of women's basketball but there was a little too much history about the towns and individual schools for me. I was surprised that the "Dust Bowl" didn't affect their game too much. Life went
Verity W
Oct 08, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: netgalley
****Copy from NetGalley in return for an honest review*****

I'm not sure I knew enough about basketball to really get the most out of this, but it was an engaging read, that in places read like a novel. Clearly a lot of research had gone into this and it wore it lightly and easily. It's a fascinating and inspiring story - and even if it got a bit bogged down in some of the history of the various organisations involved you soon got back to the action of the girls' attempt at winning the big prize.
Kathleen Gray
Dec 28, 2016 rated it really liked it
What an interesting book! While on the surface this can seem a too precise examination of a small time basketball team, it actually spoke to larger issues for me. Reeder has done a nice job of pulling details out of history and putting together a highly readable piece of nonfiction that would indeed make a good movie. Team work- always team work. THanks to Netgalley for the ARC.
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As I see it, my job as an author is to bring to light lost heroes who led humble, hardworking lives like those featured in my first book, Dust Bowl Girls.

An Oklahoma native, my roots run deep. Some of my favorite times as a child were spent on my grandfather’s ranch near Chickasha making hay-bale tunnels, fishing for bass, or traipsing through miles of pasture. I always had a skinned knee or a su
“the offensive player should know how to put her full focus on the ball, not the player with the ball, to always be alert for interceptions, shift quickly to offense after an interception, and move the ball into her team’s scoring zone.” 0 likes
“how can your crippled body handle the rigors of study and preaching? God’s work is the most strenuous on earth.” 0 likes
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