NOTE: Christie Shippy was inducted into the Wayland Athletic Hall of Honor in 2013. The Hall of Honor article captured her unique Flying Queens story, and with her permission and an update on her life after college, the Foundation is honored to share it with you.
Attaining a degree while playing collegiate sports isn’t easy. Doing it the way Christie Shippy did – taking a year off midway through in order to start a family and then returning to school while raising a young son – took the process to a whole other level. Still, looking back, the three-time All-American and one of the most prolific scorers in the history of the Flying Queens wouldn’t want it any other way.
“Everybody seemed excited for us that we were attempting this new adventure ,” Shippy said of returning to Wayland following the birth of her son, Anthony. And the Flying Queens were especially welcoming. “Anthony went from having two wonderful aunts to a whole dozen.”
Shippy came to Wayland in 1986 from Robstown, near Corpus Christi, where her family moved prior to Shippy’s senior year of high school. Shippy had been an all-state basketball player at Ponderosa High School in Parker, Colo., an honor she repeated at Calallen High School in Corpus Christi.
“It was a lot different. It was very, very physical,” she said of playing basketball in Texas compared to Colorado. “While I had amazing coaches in Colorado who taught me the finesse and skills of the game, I had not yet experienced the level of physical play that the game in Texas brought. I don’t know if I would have been ready to play college basketball if we hadn’t moved to Texas and had the opportunity to put it all together.”
Shippy decided to attend Wayland even after a memorable visit to her high school from legendary University of Texas women’s basketball coach Jody Conradt.
“She wanted me to be a wing at a (junior college) and then transfer to Texas,” the 6-foot-1 Shippy recalled.
But then Shippy discovered Wayland Baptist University…and the Flying Queens.
“My mom always got the Baptist Standard (newspaper), and there was an article in there about the Flying Queens being the No. 1 team in the nation. I read the article and thought, ‘What a remarkable program! ‘”
While Shippy was intrigued by the Flying Queens, who that year finished as NAIA national runners-up, she wasn’t immediately sold on West Texas.
“(Then Flying Queens head coach) Floyd Evans flew me in (for a visit), and I remember seeing a lot of brown and not much else,” she said with a chuckle. Having recently moved from the mountains of Colorado to the Gulf Coast of Texas, “I was already in shock in Corpus wearing shorts at Christmas. Then coming out here…It was so different!”
Shippy was more than impressed, however, with what she encountered at Wayland.
“The integrity of the girls and the rich tradition of the Queen’s program,” she said of what impressed her the most about the Flying Queens program. “That first visit left quite an impression; I thoroughly enjoyed it!”
In fact, after her first visit, Shippy was completely sold on Wayland.
“I didn’t even really consider (the University of) Texas after that,” she said. “(Wayland) felt right. I felt like I was where I needed to be.
“Coach Evans offered me a scholarship, and it was an answer to a prayer,” she added. “I don’t know if I could have swung college without it.”
Tutored by two of the most decorated Flying Queens in history in Carmen Wynn, then a senior, and Sharla Harrison, a sophomore, Shippy’s freshman season saw the team win their first 31 games before falling in the NAIA Elite Eight to Wisconsin-Green Bay, 74-73. That year, the high-scoring Queens eclipsed the century mark seven times and tallied 90 or more points on another eight occasions.
During Shippy’s sophomore season the Flying Queens posted their historic 1,000th career win, becoming the first women’s basketball team in history to reach that plateau.
“To be there when we got the 1,000th win was something I will always cherish and remember as one of the proudest moments of my career at Wayland,” Shippy said. “So many talented women had carved a path of excellence before me, and I felt so honored to have the opportunity to uphold that same standard of excellence. Just to be a part of that was almost overwhelming.”
It was after Shippy’s sophomore season – when the Queens finished 28-7 and lost in the first round of the NAIA National Tournament – that her life drastically changed. Shippy married Tony Ramos and she had a son, Anthony. Shippy withdrew from school, and the young family moved to Midland.
But after sitting out one year, Shippy again felt the pull of Wayland…and the Queens.
“I wanted my degree, and I loved basketball and the Flying Queens,” she said. “I loved that whole experience.”
Becoming a part of Wayland’s team again wasn’t automatic, however, as Evans had left and a new coach, Sheryl Estes, was calling the shots. Not only that, but Shippy would be one of the first moms to ever put on a Flying Queens uniform.
But Estes agreed to give Shippy a chance, and after giving birth in December, Shippy had her tryout in front of the new coach the following spring. While Shippy felt the tryout went well, Estes – as Shippy discovered later – wasn’t as impressed.
“We talked about that a few years ago, and Sheryl said she remembers thinking, ‘Wow, this girl is really out of shape,’” Shippy said with a laugh. “But I wanted it badly. I told her she wouldn’t be sorry if she took a chance on me.”
Estes no doubt was happy she gave Shippy that chance. After averaging close to 5.0 points a game as both a freshman and sophomore, Shippy averaged a team-best 17.3 points and 8.1 rebounds and was named American Women’s Sports Federation All-American her junior season when the Queens went 30-11 and advanced to the Elite Eight. She repeated the AWSF All-American honor, and added NAIA All-American as well, her senior year when the Queens went 27-8 and again made it to the Elite Eight.
Not only did Shippy’s on-court performance drastically increase when she returned to school, but her role within the team also changed as well.
“When I came back for my last two years, I was more stable and solid, especially in my faith and in my walk (with Christ),” she said. “Sheryl wanted me to be a leader. She used to tell me, ‘You’re a mom. Others are looking up to you.’ I had to pray hard every day for that extra strength and wisdom.”
Shippy viewed that role with her teammates as a unique privilege.
“I think the girls saw my commitment as a wife, mom, student and teammate as a challenge, but it also gave them a sense of security to know they were a part of a family,” she said. “Being all of those things was hard sometimes, but I didn’t dare complain because I was so grateful to have a chance.”
Shippy ended her playing career at Wayland with 1,691 points, which at the time ranked No. 5 in Flying Queens history. Today, it’s ninth.
Shippy’s final win as a Flying Queen – against Minnesota-Duluth in the Sweet 16 at the national tournament in Jackson, Tenn. – was one of her most memorable games.
“I had to guard Dina Kangus, their 6-foot-2 point guard, the entire game, coast-to-coast,” recalled Shippy, who did a stellar job against the All-American who ended her career as the NCAA Division II women’s basketball all-time scoring leader and who scored more lifetime points than any other player (male or female) in Minnesota collegiate basketball history. “I don’t recall how much she scored but it was my job to slow her down. It was tiring but also exhilarating because Sheryl had prepared us to go all the way, and I was in the best shape of my career at that point. That was a great memory.”
Shippy enjoyed getting out from under the basket in order to guard Kangus.
“I always wanted to be a point guard. I was always wanting to dribble…and always getting in trouble for it. It makes people nervous when tall people dribble.”
In addition to starring in basketball, Shippy shined elsewhere on campus as well. She was named Wayland’s 1990 homecoming queen and was honored with the Claude Hutcherson Memorial Award and the Roscoe Snyder Award as Wayland’s top female senior athlete.
Probably because she was so busy with her studies, basketball and raising a child, Shippy doesn’t recall a lot about serving as homecoming queen.
“I remember being very surprised,” she said. “There was a parade, and that was fun. My mom got me a dress for the coronation. I was honored but also very busy.”
Originally, Shippy graduated with a degree in business administration and worked as an accountant for an oil company in Midland before moving to Amarillo where she did accounting work for several health-related companies; however, for the past 22 years, she has worked as a music specialist at Reeves-Hinger Elementary School in Canyon.
“It’s truly my calling,” she said of her love of teaching music. “I was good at working with numbers, but my passion has always been connected with music. I always thought I wanted to be a concert pianist; who would have thought that playing for my students and teaching them all the wonderful aspects of music would bring me such joy!
Her son Anthony, who used to run around the gym with the Queen’s in diapers, is now a doctor of chiropractic and has three sons; Shippy loves being a Gigi. Her other son Aaron is married and is an accountant for Texas Tech. Seth, her third son, lives with his sister in Washington State. Audrey threw discus and shotput for the Washington State Cougars and graduated with a marketing degree.
Shippy’s many activities, outside of teaching school, have included playing piano and singing with her church band, teaching piano lessons, and being head Wrangler and Rider on the Rim for the Outdoor Musical TEXAS in the Palo Duro Canyon. She now resides between Canyon and Amarillo Texas with her husband Kris. They have a menagerie of farm critters including their cat, Kit Kat; Dog, Daisy; and two horses; Flash and Dusty.
Shippy feels she owes much of her life to her days at Wayland…especially getting a second chance.
“I wouldn’t be where I’m at if I hadn’t gotten that chance. So many people at Wayland encouraged me along the way. They believed in me, and that made following my dream even sweeter.”
Being inducted into the Wayland Baptist Athletics Hall of Honor, meanwhile, is icing on the cake.
“Even now, people here in Canyon will come up to me and ask, ‘You played for (the Flying Queens), right?’ I am so proud just to be a part of such an amazing program. There have been so many great players who have gone through the Flying Queens program. I’m so very honored. I’ve always been completely grateful for the chance I got, and to be honored in this way exceeds my highest expectations.”
August 24, 2023