I am Peggy Provence Appleton and I was a Flying Queen from 1972-76. From the time I was nine months old, my family lived in a rural area of south eastern Oklahoma City. I was the second child and first girl of four siblings. We all attended Choctaw public schools and graduated from there. My parents were hard workers. Dad worked at Tinker Air Force base as a civil servant. For a while, he also worked at Sears—holding down two jobs to support his family. When I was in the eighth grade, my mom started working in the school cafeteria. In addition, when my brothers were in FFA, they also ran a small farm with cows, chickens, a horse, and pigs. We also had a huge garden and summer days were spent freezing and canning produce for the winter.
I was tall from the beginning and everyone said I should play basketball. So, in the seventh grade I started playing. My coach, John Keely, was a first-year teacher who aspired to be a great football coach. I played in the first basketball game I had ever seen. We were playing 6 on 6 and we were pretty pitiful. No one had explained the finer points of the game. When a shooting foul occurred and we got to shoot two free throws, the referee would say, “first one is dead.” I thought it
meant it didn’t count, even if you made the first shot, so I didn’t really try to hit it.
In the eighth grade we had a new coach, Cindy Wigginton Cross. She was a tall, lanky young woman who had played for coach Redin at Wayland for two years. She taught me to use my right and left hand in the post position. Through her, I learned about the Flying Queens and decided I would go to Wayland and play basketball. In the ninth grade we had another new coach. She didn’t know basketball and we kind of stalled in our basketball skills.
High school started in the tenth grade and my coach was once again John Keely. I loved playing split court and had a very successful career. Choctaw was the largest school district in Oklahoma that played girls’ basketball and there were over 250 schools in our class. We made it to the state tournament all three of my high school years but never won a title. I was the state’s leading scorer my junior and senior years. Coach Keely has remained a treasured friend throughout my life.
In the spring of my senior year, my dad and I took a trip to see Wayland. I was dressed in sandals and cute, hemmed, cut-off, white shorts. I met some of the Queens—notably Janice Beach and Cathy Wilson. They showed me around the campus. First, they took me to the Hutcherson Center. It was a beautiful, one-year old facility that was “state of the art” for basketball. I also saw the old “cracker box” where the Queens had played for years. It was the smallest gym I’d ever seen.
They then took me to lunch at Slaughter Hall. I was in my cute short shorts and found out that the dress code was pants or dresses. What a shock! This was in 1972 and that was the first year that girls could even wear jeans to class! We had a forgettable meal. My dad had gone to lunch with Coach Redin and they had catfish. The things you remember.
I went back home with the intention of attending Wayland in the fall. To this day I do not know how Coach Redin found out about me. I am certainly grateful to whomever it was. I was in the last class to be recruited by and play for Coach Redin.
My senior year, I made the Oklahoma All-State Team. Later I was selected to play for Oklahoma in the Texas-Oklahoma All-Star Games. These games were held in Plainview at Wayland. Several of the all-stars traveled there together. I went with Kay Phillips and Linda Lyster from Sayre. Linda drove a hearse and we had a wonderful week. Kay would join me for two years at Wayland before transferring to a school in Oklahoma. The Oklahoma All-Stars beat Texas in both games. It was fabulous playing at Hutcherson Center. Unfortunately, the “state of the art” basketball floor (Tartan surface) gave me shin splints and I was plagued with them my whole time at Wayland.
I began attending Wayland in the fall of 1972. Some of my fond/funny memories from my Wayland days involve initiation, chapel, and Dr. McCoy, the Moshers, and math.All freshmen were initiated as “slime” for the first month. We had to wear blue and gold beanies everywhere except the basketball court. As part of our initiation as Queens we had to put on a talent show in the basement of Mayes Hall. We were pretty weak on talent, so we chose to lip-synch Tina Turner’s “Proud Mary.” It was Pearl Worrell’s bright idea and it was quite the performance. For our final initiation as freshmen Queens we spent the weekend at Palo Duro Canyon. We slept on the sand, hiked and had a wonderful time.
Chapel was a shock to the system. Two days a week at 10:00 am Monday, Wednesday, or Friday we had required chapel. Chapel checkers took roll. It didn’t take long to learn how to slump down and take an impromptu, 50-minute nap. I got down-right good at it my senior year. If chapel was canceled or cut short, we had a choice of activities: visit the Spudnut Shop, watch “The Young And The Restless,” finish homework, or nap.
During registration my freshman year, the Queens were very helpful in figuring out our schedule of classes. They also had sage advice. “Whatever you do don’t take Dr. Dorothy M. McCoy for math.” Well I took that advice and signed up for trigonometry under another teacher even though I had taken trig in high school. NO—Busted! Dr. McCoy caught me and made me (and Kay Phillips) take calculus. So, I took two semesters of calculus and sold my book back— planning never to take Dr. McCoy ever again!
However, during my sophomore year, I needed to declare a major. Well I decided I’d show Dr. McCoy. I’d major in math. I had to buy that cursed calculus book back! I discovered Dr. James and Linda Mosher. He taught math. They were amazing and took us into their home to celebrate birthdays and holidays. Linda was an amazing woman who could paint, cook, and make her home very welcoming. They were second parents for many of us.
Like other Queens who have shared their stories, flying, special trips, and international play provide some of my best memories. I will also add moments of “stardom!”
When the basketball season started, I was assigned to Moss Foster’s plane along with Marcia Shieldknight and Brenda Moeller. I had never flown before. We had many wonderful trips flying with Moss but one really memorable one was a trip to California over Christmas break. Our plane lost oil pressure and, as we were stopping in Yuma, Arizona, Brenda had to crank down the landing gear manually. We landed successfully and Marcia got off the plane and kissed the tarmac. The rest of the flight was uneventful. This was my first trip to California. Claude gave us money to see Disneyland, Knotts Berry Farm and the Wax Museum. It was amazing!
While I was at Wayland, we played the international teams from Mexico, Republic of China (Taiwan), and Russia. We beat Mexico and Taiwan but were soundly defeated by Russia. Our tallest player was 6’2”. Theirs was 7’0”. We exchanged gifts at the beginning of these games. We gave great gifts and got trinkets in return.
Now for “stardom.” The Queens were in high demand to be photographed for ads for the Wayland yearbook. I remember pretending to eat frozen pizza at Pizza Inn so we could star in their ad.
Overall, my first year as a Flying Queen was a good one. The transition from playing 6 on 6 split court to 5 man full-court basketball was difficult but I did it! The first home game and the last home game of the season were memorable to me. In my first game in Hutcherson Center we beat the Raytown Piperettes by one point. I made the winning shot with only six seconds left in the game. Our last home game that year was special because it was “Harley Redin Day.” Coach Redin had announced his retirement and Plainview had set this day aside to honor him. Before the game, it was announced that Dean Weese would be our new coach. We won the game giving Coach Redin his final victory before a home crowd.
That same year, in tournament play, we won the Gold Coast Classic and I made the All-Tournament team. We won the National Women’s Invitational Tournament where I was named a NWIT All-Collegiate American and was named NWIT Rookie of the Year. However, our season ended in disaster as we were beaten in the first round of the National AAU Tournament. We felt badly, not only because we lost, but because this was a terrible way for Coach Reding to end his stellar career.
My sophomore year was a transition year and I think the transition was tougher on the Weeses than the rest of us. Leann Shieldknight, Sheila Patterson, Carolyn Bush, Jayne Jenkins, Jeanie Stevenson and Faith Watson joined the team. In tournament play, we won the Gold Coast Classic, the NWIT and the national AAU Tournament. This was the year the Queens began competing in AIAW basketball. We easily won the Southwest Region AIAW tournament but were upset in the first round of the National AIAW tournament. We did go on to win the consolation bracket.
My junior year brought the “eenas.” Tina, Breena, Sheena and Trina (Slinker, Caldwell, Cooper, Bryant). There were also others who weren’t “eenas”—Rosemary Brown, Rosalie Ardese, Robin Tucker and Leanne Waddell. When it came time for the freshman talent show they actually had some talent!! That year, we repeated as Gold Coast, NWIT, AAU, and Region IV AIAW champions. We again were upset in the AIAW nationals and once again won the consolation bracket.
My senior year arrived before I knew it. Coach Weese asked if anyone was interested in coaching the Queen Bees. I visited with him about this and decided I’d like to be the coach. Coach Redin’s parents, Papa and Mama Redin, were the Bees unofficial sponsors. I got to coach many of the “eenas.” We always managed to have fun. While driving the van to away games wasn’t really too much fun, we always got there and back.
Finally, I graduated in 1976. Pearl Worrell and I were the only two left from our freshman class. I got married two weeks later. My husband, Terry Appleton, and I have two daughters and have been married 43 years. I worked for the Hobbs Municipal Schools for 28 years. By the grace of God, I am a cancer survivor. I am blessed to have both of my parents still living.
Wayland was a magical place for this country girl. I tell everyone that I had the best four years of college that anyone could ask for. God truly blessed me with my basketball talent and getting to attend Wayland was my crowning achievement.
Peggy Provence Appleton
Wayland Grad 1976
Flying Queens Forever!