My name is Kaye Garms, and I grew up in Loyal, Oklahoma, a tiny rural community located about 65 miles northwest of Oklahoma City. My parents farmed, raised livestock and planted vegetable gardens to help feed seven children, of whom I was the youngest. My parents always provided us with ample food, clothing and necessities for being happy.
My father built a backboard with a basketball rim and bolted it to our barn. We spent many hours playing basketball outside in the evening and on weekends. Basketball was a “way of life” for our family as all seven of us played on the high school team. It was the best entertainment we had since we had no electricity or running water until my freshman year in high school. Our high school gymnasium was never locked, and we would gather at the gym and play basketball during the summer months.
In 1954, during my senior year at Loyal High School, my high school coach organized an “All-State Team” from surrounding high schools in Kingfisher County to play in the AAU Tournament in St. Joseph, Missouri. I was chosen for the team and a local banker sponsored us: providing uniforms, transportation, meals and lodging. We played hard but lost both games. I saw the Flying Queens play and was in awe of their skills and success as they won the tournament.
I always had the desire to go to college, but my parents couldn’t afford for me to attend, especially to a college out-of-state. The coaches from Wayland saw me play and contacted my coach about a couple of us going to a Flying Queens tryout camp. We received written invitations, and our local banker’s wife took us to Plainview to try out for one scholarship.
Forty-two girls attended the camp. I worked as hard as I could in every practice. It seems like we had two-a-days for four days. A couple of weeks after camp I received a letter stating I would have a full scholarship to play for the Flying Queens and attend Wayland Baptist. We were all elated, and it was one of the happiest days of my life. I was the only one in my family who would attend college.
My entire experience at Wayland was positive. Wayland was a Christian school, and we were required to attend chapel three days a week. One of those religious talks convinced me to accept the Lord as my savior, and I was baptized at the First Baptist Church in Plainview during my sophomore year. This was a significant change in my life.
I loved our practices in that old gym on campus and worked hard to please the coach and my teammates. I was excited to make the Queens travel squad and help the team win so many consecutive games. Even when we fell behind in a game, I always thought we would find a way to win, which we did! As a freshman I got to play in the championship game at the AAU tournament and scored 15 points. Being in the starting line up as a sophomore was memorable because of the opportunity to play with the great athletes on the Queens that year. In addition to the memories of the Queens’ team success, being selected as an AAU All-American in 1956 and 57 is a personal cherished memory.
The most trying time came in 1958 when the winning streak came to an end against Nashville Business College. That game was a real disappointment and a heartbreaking loss. There were a lot of tears when we got to the locker room. Losing wasn’t even in the back of our minds.
During my senior year (May 1958) I was chosen to play on the USA team that toured Russia for two weeks. Nikita Khrushchev was the Russian dictator, Dwight Eisenhower was the United States President, and John Foster Dulles was Secretary of State. The USA/Russian diplomats were not on the best of terms then, and this was the first ever sports exchange trip between USA and Russia. The women’s and men’s teams traveled together and played on the same nights at the same venue.
John Head, coach for Nashville Business College, was our coach along with six members from his Nashville team, two from Iowa Wesleyan, two from Raytown Piperettes (team from a piping company near Kansas City, MO.) and two from Wayland. We played five games against their “All Star” teams in outdoor stadiums under the lights and sometime wet conditions. Approximately 20,000 to 30,000 fans attended each game. We played in Moscow, the southern part of Russia named Georgia, and in Leningrad. One of the highlights of that trip was observing the Russian “May Day Parade” on May 1st. WOW, did they ever show off their military equipment and soldiers marching their famous “goose step.”
I majored in physical education and history at Wayland and later earned a master’s degree from the University of Oklahoma. I then embarked on a career in teaching, coaching, and officiating.
I taught and coached for 33 years: seven in Texas and 26 in Colorado.
Because of my love for the game, I also became a basketball official. I officiated at the high school level for 17 years and at the collegiate level for 15 years. In 1991 I was appointed coordinator of women’s basketball officials for the Western Athletic Conference and held that position for 25 years, retiring in 2016. A highlight of my career and life is that I was the Honoree for the Naismith 2014 Women’s Collegiate Official of the Year Award.
During my tenure as coordinator, I attended camps every summer to help teach and advise future officials. During the season I traveled to universities to observe and evaluate officials. It was during this time that I met and made many, many friends that I continue to stay in touch with after retiring.
Attending Wayland and playing basketball provided me with a free college education and the opportunity to meet and keep so many friends, including Flying Queens, during the past 50 years. The game of basketball teaches you that there are rules one abides by to succeed, just like in the game of life. Basketball also teaches you that being part of a team, sharing successes and failures, is a great learning experience. Even now, the lessons I learned by playing basketball continue to enrich my life.
In retirement I enjoy traveling, visiting family and friends throughout the United States. My hobbies are fly fishing, golf, gardening and cooking.
Wayland Grad 1958
Flying Queens Forever!