Ruth Cannon Nichols played for the Flying Queens from 1951-55. She passed away in 2005. This is her story as written by Dorothy Canon Belcher, a proud sister.
Ruth was born on July 21, 1933, along with a twin sister named Ruby. They were totally different in size and looks. Ruthie was always taller, of larger build, and had light brown hair. Ruby was short with dark hair. Ruth’s personality overwhelmed Ruby’s quiet demeanor, yet each had their strengths. We grew up in a rural farming community. It wasn’t unusual for all the families to have large numbers of children. My parents had a family of six boys before Ruth and Ruby were born.
Ruth was always full of energy, and ready to work on the farm or play games. It didn’t matter what kind of game she was relentless about winning. It was part of her personality. She grew up a winner. In high school, Ruth was given the opportunity to excel in basketball. She put Cotton Center, Texas, on the map. As a result we were exposed to winning early.
Since we lived so close to Plainview, we were very familiar with the Hutcherson Flying Queens and had access to see them play. It was only natural for Ruth and Ruby to try out for the Flying Queens and, as expected, to be accepted. The twins played during the years 1951 to 1955.
During that time, the Queens were National AAU Runners-up in 1953 and National Champions in 1954 and 1955. Ruth was named All-American in each of these years and was the National Free Throw Champion in ’54 and ’55. She played in the first 52 games of the 131- game winning streak. She made the USA team that participated in the French Invitational Tournament in 1954 and the Pan Am Team that went undefeated in Mexico City in 1955. To date, Ruth is ranked number 4 on the Queens’ all-time scoring list with 2,159 career points.
After graduating, Ruth had a short career coaching a high school team. She left to marry Buzz Nichols. They started a family and had four beautiful children—Bobby, Russell, Joe, and Martha Jane. Later in life Ruth coached again for several years. All told, she coached basketball and taught physical education in Plains, Alpine, Cotton Center and Anton, Texas, winning a number of district championships. After retiring, she was a caretaker for an elderly friend who had health issues.
Cancer ended Ruth’s life in 2005. She has three loving sisters who miss her laughter and personality. We like to remember a sister who is in five Halls of Fame and is an All American, Free Throw Champion, and Pan-American team winner. I like to imagine we will see her again with a basketball in her hand, for if there is a basketball heaven, she is surely there. I wouldn’t be surprised if she also snuck in pair of tennis shoes.