I grew up in Farwell, TX, population 1,008. My father was the head football coach and AD, so I grew up with sports. To spend time with my dad, I would watch reel-to-reel football games on our living room wall and would attempt to talk football. I had an elementary teacher, who had played basketball at Wayland, and when we had rainy weather, we would get to go the gym and shoot baskets. Mrs. Huffaker would shoot and I would be in awe of how many baskets she would make. From then on I was hooked. We had a goal in our back yard and I killed the grass shooting baskets and/or playing with the neighborhood kids. By the time I was in 6th grade, I would walk to the gym on Sunday afternoons with my “Chucks” hanging on my shoulder and would shoot at a side basket while the older kids played. I turned into a gym rat. To this day, I love the smell of an old gym and the feel of a basketball in my hand.
In my 6th grade year, we got a new coach, Gayle Nicholas, who was also a former Queen. One night, she loaded all of us up on a “yellow dog” and took us to watch the Queens play. I loved it! From then on, I knew I wanted to play college basketball. I have an older sister, Sharon, who is two years older so we got to play varsity basketball together for two years. I know now that I was so lucky to get to have that memory of playing sports and running around with my sister. She played basketball at South Plains College in Levelland, TX. Along with being a basketball player, I also ran track and played golf. I always made it to the regional tournament in track, both as an individual and on a relay team. I also played on three state golf championships. Wow! What a great time that was. I could have played college golf but my heart was with basketball.
The spring of my senior year, Coach Dean Weese called and asked me to tryout. I was there bright and early, feeling very nervous and excited. Once tryouts began, I found out in a hurry that everyone was good and that if I played at Wayland, I would have to work twice as hard just to make the team. After the tryouts and walking around the campus, I felt like Wayland was “home.” Later on that week, Coach Weese called and offered me a scholarship and I accepted.
The beginning of my freshman year (1977) at Wayland was quit traumatic for me. One word, “initiation!” lol! Wearing a beanie was bad enough but the initiation was brutal—at least for the first week. After that, when we returned to Fleming Mays Tower, we would meet in someone’s room. The last one in would lock the door. We’d sit on the beds and/or the floor and then we’d take off our beanies, bust out laughing, and abuse each other as to how funny we looked doing whatever the Queens made us do. We all survived and learned a valuable lesson during those two weeks—the importance of being a team and depending on each other for support.
I grew up a lot during those two weeks. And then there was basketball practice. I was the only freshman who made the Queens. During practice, I would always shoot on the Queen Bee’s side, since they were my age. Every day for about a week, Coach Weese would send me to the Queens’ end. One day he had had enough of me shooting with my classmates and said, “Booth, if you want to play with Bees, you can just stay on this end with them.” After that, I shot with the Queens. I did play some games with the Bees and loved every minute of it! However when I got on the floor during a Queens’ game, I was a nervous wreck while waiting for my chance to play. I knew who everyone was supposed to guard, I knew our offenses and defenses, I knew what the other team would run, and then, bam! Coach Weese would call my name and, in an instant, I would forget everything.
My freshman year, I flew in the five-seat plane and I sat in the very back with the basketballs, luggage, and medicine kit. There was just enough room for me to sit. I had never flown before so the first flight was a bit scary for me. After that, I loved it! Through the course of my years of playing, we had a lot of fun on our flights and I loved all of our pilots. They were all sweet men who took great care of us.
Being a student/athlete at Wayland Baptist was perfect for me. It was a small university in a town that wasn’t too large for me to get lost. I arrived a very shy young lady and left with confidence and knowing what I wanted to do with my life. I had teachers who took time to teach me but, most importantly, they took time to get to know me as a person.
My freshman year, I was in the Miss Wayland Pageant! I won “Miss Congeniality” and boy was that an experience! My only talent was that I could play basketball. Not a crowd pleaser in the talent section of the pageant! My junior year, I was a homecoming queen nominee. The coronation was at the auditorium and I needed a formal dress. I asked my friends who were about my size and height if they had one I could borrow. The night before the coronation, I finally found a dress. There was one problem. The dress smelled like fried chicken and I did not have time to take the dress to the cleaners. I really didn’t think much about it because I was certain that I would not win. During the ceremony, the 3rd runner up was announced, the 2nd runner up was announced, and the first runner up was announced. At that point, I am scouting out who is left and trying to decide who would win. Then finally the 1980 Homecoming Queen was announced. Kathy Booth—me! I was most shocked person in the auditorium! So there I stood on the stage, mouth wide open, wearing a cute dress that smelled of fried chicken and holding a beautiful bouquet of long stem red roses. A very special night for me! I finally did smile.
There were five girls that played basketball at Wayland my freshman year who had the first name, “Kathy.” So all of us were called by our last names or a nickname. I started off as Booth but ended being called “Boothie.” All of my years at Wayland, there would be students walking up to me to inquire what my real name was. And to this day, I still am called “Boothie.” I love it!
I have so much pride in being a graduate of Wayland Baptist. Being a Queen and enjoying all of the traveling and all of the places we played are part of it, but Wayland has just such a dear spot in my heart. Some of the facilities that we played in were amazing and some were no larger than my high school gym. We played on a very high level, had very high expectations both for ourselves and for our team. We all wanted to be successful for our school and for our community. I think all Flying Queens have a common bond and we enjoy seeing each other. I love seeing the older Queens and enjoy trading stories—particularly those that we cannot mention.
I have been married for 28 years to Pat Loter. We have two amazing children. Jesse James is 26 and is soon to be married. He is a teacher and a coach in Round Rock Independent School District. Mattie Lee is 24 and is an architectural designer. She is currently working for Mattamy Homes. Pat and I have taught and coached for over 30 years and are now currently teaching at Midland ISD. I am very blessed.
Things I would like to share with the current Queens are that they are playing at an amazing university with a very rich tradition. Even though times have changed, Wayland will always be Wayland to each and every one of us. I would like to tell all of the Queens to enjoy college and every possible aspect of college life. Attending a small university will allow them the chance to be involved in much more than just basketball.
Kathy Booth Loter
Wayland Grad 1981
Flying Queens Forever!