Uncovering decades’ WORTH OF SPORTS
Tucked away in the back of the museum on a snowy Thursday morning in late March, a quartet of volunteers gathered at a table.
Organized in several folders was a culmination of research spanning Fallon high-school athletics since the high school’s inception in the early 1900s. Scanned copies of photos complemented other various mediums of documentation and findings from how the Greenwave began and became the success story it is now.
A daunting task of collecting information on Fallon sports proved to be a formidable foe, but for 1957 grad Dave Lumos, 1971 grad Yvonne Arciniega Sutherland, 1959 grad Nancy Sanders Stewart and museum research specialist Bunny Corkill, several months passed and the results were unexpected. It was as if the past had been rediscovered and a portal unlocked to the original glory days.
“What we concentrated on was those yearbooks. That took a lot of time,” said Stewart, who played basketball in the Girls Athletic Association. “We only did the museum’s yearbooks. Sometimes, there was no yearbook. Sometimes, there were pages taken out. We were actually relying on what the students reported in the yearbooks. Then, they began to change their style of presenting yearbooks for pictures. It was like a storybook.”
Rediscovered was how a few standout athletes helped break the barrier of girls sports before Title IX was established 40 years ago. Only basketball was available and not until the 1970s was girls athletics recognized officially.
“There was no ninth grade like they have now for girls,” Stewart recalled. “There was no JV team like they have for girls. It was varsity. You made that. I remember when they had tryouts in the gym. Eighty some girls came to try out. You could dribble twice, (play half court) and there were no 3-pointers.”
Marianne Gay Kent ran hurdles with the junior varsity boys, Sheree Ford Jensen won multiple state track titles in the 1970s and Ellen Townsend was a state track and golf champ to lead the pioneer effort.
The research had a purpose, and it wasn’t just an opportunity to relive how Fallon sports began.
The Greenwave Hall of Fame was created last year and will be inducting the first class this fall. Following a similar format to the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association’s Hall of Fame, Fallon’s first shrine is off the ground and fueled by a small, dedicated group whose passion is the Greenwave and honoring those who made the school great.
“But what do we do about a lady like Gay Kent, who was one of the first to come and ask,” Stewart asked members of the HOF committee.
HOF committee member Judy Pratt quickly responded.
“I think you recognize them as the line-breaker. They were the leaders,” said Pratt, who retired after spending many years as an educator and administrator in Churchill County School District. “They were the first to do something that began the breakout for girls. They’re going to be different than the boys because of the way it came about in the 70s. Then, they’re equal to the guys. We have to make an exception. They were the leaders whether they knew they were going to be leaders. They need to be recognized.”
The research team encountered its share of challenges. Statistics were not kept until post-World War II, and they had to rely heavily on yearbooks and news articles.
“Up until the 50s, they didn’t do quarter by quarter. They didn’t do box scores,” Lumos said. “In the 50s, those started to appear. That is really iffy, too, because some years you had a lot and some years you didn’t have any. The relativity from the old days to the new days was kind of hard but almost all the stuff on here was representative at every age group.”
The purpose of the Greenwave HOF is to recognize and honor past athletes, including pioneers like Kent. Headed by girls track coach Paul Orong and assisted by various members of the community, including Angela de Braga, Tom McCormick, Bert Serrano, Loni Faught and John Dirickson, the HOF committee welcomes nominations that are due May 31 for the class of 2017.
Plans are underway for the ceremony to be conducted during homecoming weekend in October. Anyone may nominate, and categories are student-athlete, coach, team and contributor.
The museum staff encourages people to visit for information about potential nominees. Pratt, though, said that the process will have its growing pains as the community will embrace honoring the first class this year.
“There’s a point that, as this committee, we need to realize when we jumpstart this the very first time, it’s not going to be perfect,” she said. “If somebody brings something to the light and we have to jump back the next year or the next two years, we certainly will because our intent is to recognize as many as we know. We’re going to make mistakes. That’s why nobody wanted to start this committee. It’s too political and it can be nasty. This is the group who’s willing to get their feet wet.”
Nomination forms can be found and submitted electronically at http://www.greenwavehalloffame.com.