By Gary Vaughn, Wayland Baptist University
PLAINVIEW – Wayland Baptist University and The Hutcherson Flying Queens Foundation (HFQF) announced construction for the long-awaited Flying Queens Basketball Museum is underway. Renovation to walls, ceiling tiles and flooring has begun to make a portion of the space inside the Mabee Regional Heritage Center ready for the new basketball museum.
Members of the HFQF joined Wayland Baptist University officials in February to break ground on the project. All the funds for the museum have been raised by the HFQF, which is comprised of former Flying Queens players and coaches.
The project was initiated by the HFQF and Wayland is providing the space, the expertise, and the training to properly catalog and preserve the artifacts that will be on display in the museum. Linda Price, president of the HFQF, said the museum, and the stories housed within, will show the impact the Flying Queens and Wayland had on the game of women’s basketball.
“We are just as excited as we were during the induction ceremony at the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 2019,” said Price. “Our team worked tirelessly to raise the funds for this museum, and we are looking forward to opening it to the public early next year.”
Sponsored for many years by Claude and Wilda Hutcherson, the Flying Queens program changed the face of women’s basketball and set records for the sport, including the first and only team in collegiate history to win 131 consecutive games. Legendary Flying Queens coach, Harley Redin, spearheaded efforts to bring equity to the rules of the women’s game.
While portions of the Flying Queens story are presented in the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Massachusetts, and in the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in Knoxville, Tennessee, this will be the only venue in the United States that presents a complete picture of the program’s accomplishments. It will also highlight the remarkable role the Flying Queens basketball program played in the development of the women’s game and the history of women’s basketball.
Wayland President, Dr. Bobby Hall echoed the significance of preserving this part of Wayland’s history.
“Once open, the Flying Queens Museum will showcase a unique story that took place in West Texas and featured many young women who grew up on the plains and were influenced by its culture.” said Hall. “However, this project goes beyond preserving basketball stats and accomplishments. It also tells the aggregate story of strong, determined women, who used the game of basketball as a means of obtaining a college education and then going forward to change the sport and women’s opportunity in so many ways. We are proud to host this on our campus – the place where it all started.”
Artist renderings provided by Halo Architects in Lubbock show the various digital displays and how the Naismith Hall of Fame trophy, ring and jacket will be displayed.
Price added a special thank you to Wayland and to the Texas Historical Foundation for providing the first significant grant for the project and recognized the many individual gifts donated to this project.
“We really have so many people to thank for their help in raising the necessary funds for this level of project” she said. “We will have a place for proper acknowledgements inside the museum because we couldn’t have done it without their support.”
University officials said a ribbon cutting celebration is being planned during February’s Homecoming and will release more details when they are available.