Flying Queen


Rosalie Ardese

I am Rosalie Ardese from Wilburton, Oklahoma. My dad was Italian. His parents came to the USA through Ellis Island from Sicily. His family first settled in Chicago, then moved to the Kansas City area. To this day, my family members are Royal’s and Chief’s fans! My mom was Choctaw. Her parents walked the Trail of Tears from Mississippi to Oklahoma. My parents met in McAlister, Oklahoma.

I grew up in a large family and we were poor growing up. I have 7 brothers only one of which was younger than me. We had rough times but there was no lack of love in our home. All of us worked. I began mowing lawns and raking leaves when I was in 6th grade and could always come up with a way to get a paycheck. I loved to take my money and go to the store and buy baloney and bread. At our house, there was never a dull moment because all of the neighbors came over to play. I was the only girl, so I played what the boys were playing, which was all kinds of sports. I loved my brothers and would do anything for them. We were extremely loyal and whatever mischievous we got into, we would never tell on each other.

I went to school in Panola, Oklahoma for 12 years. My first competitive sport in school was marbles. In the 3rd and 4th grade, I played for keeps and whipped everyone. I began playing basketball in when I was in the 5th grade. Even in grades 5 and 6, we played other schools.
My grade school coach was DeWayne Mankin and both he and my high school coach, Ronnie Robison, stressed fundamentals. They gave me the drive to be better, so I was blessed to be coached by them. In my younger days I played in independent softball leagues.  I also played Indian sports beginning in the 7th grade. I was a catcher and I learned from the best, Johnny Bench. I also pitched, beginning in grade school.

My senior year I made the All-State First Team Basketball Team and was the leading scorer in the state, averaging 33 points per game. I think I was the state’s leading scorer my junior year also, averaging 38 points per game. My post-high school plan was to join the Marines, but my dad put a stop to that. Thus, I started considering the basketball recruiting calls I was getting from colleges. Basketball great Dixie Woodall wanted me to come to Seminole Junior College. I was heavily recruited by Coach Nicodemus from John F. Kennedy College in Nebraska and from Coach Weese from Wayland. My pick was John F. Kennedy because I thought I would get more playing time and thus have a better chance on becoming an All-American. However, Coach Weese told me the school was having problems (good advice since JFK closed in 1975) So, I was Wayland bound.

The summer passed quickly and when it was time to go to Wayland Mom and Dad drove me to Plainview. I did not know what to expect and was a bit anxious, but Coach Weese and family made it bearable for me. They greeted me at the dorm, assisted with my moving in and then gave me a tour of the gym. After I met with the Queens I felt even better. Classes began and I was very overwhelmed and intimidated. I had good teachers in Panola, but I wasn’t prepared for how and how much I needed to study. I was also very homesick. I was not used to being away from home. I was also not used to having so many girls as friends since I grew up with boys. Everything was a bit scary.

I have to admit I had never heard of the Flying Queens and their rich tradition, but I soon found out the meaning and it was a proud feeling being part of a dynasty. The first time I walked on the court with the team, all I could think is wow, what professionalism! Drills were amazing! I got hooked on defense!!! In high school we played three-on-three and I always played forward. Learning defense was the “icing on the cake.” I loved it!! When the day came for picking the traveling team, Leanne Waddle and I made the varsity as freshmen. What an amazing accomplishment to be a Hutcherson Flying Queen. Leanne and I took turns traveling with the team.

Among my best memories as a Queen was the National AAU Tournament in Gallup, New Mexico my freshman year. There was a one-on-one competition and to my surprise the upperclassmen picked me to play. What an honor. I came in third place. I also can’t forget Coach Weese giving me a lot of playing time when my parents were able to come watch the games. He was good about that with all of us. Mom and Dad were able to come to our games when we played in Oklahoma and Arkansas. They always sat and watched quietly. Dad would often sit with Claude. They got along really well. I also remember times when Coach Weese would take a couple of us to coaches’ clinics. We would demonstrate defense and shooting techniques. My worst basketball memory was missing the National AIAW Tournament my freshman year due to a badly sprained ankle.

I not only played basketball, but also softball. I want to say to Coach Nadler and the softball girls that they all were amazing. They were good athletes and played with heart. I felt honored to have played with them. The Wayland Queens taught me a lot about life. I knew God but Leanne Shieldknight and Leanne Waddell brought it all to life by the way they were living.

The following year I made the team again, but my season was short-lived. My grades kept me from playing second semester. That was a bad time in my life. I thought surely there was a way I could play so I went to see Dr. McClung (Wayland’s president). He listened but his response was something like “Rose, you may not be college material.” I’m a bit stubborn so I replied, “No, I’m going to stick it out.” I dug deep into my studies to prove him wrong. I spent a lot of time in the library. The librarian, Ms. Conway, and her mother were angels. They were instrumental in helping me through dark days. They invited me over to their house to eat and watch games. Dr. Bowers, the chair of the Biology Department, took me under his wing and kept me from leaving Wayland. My primary goal was to finish school with majors in PE and Biology, so I never returned to Flying Queens basketball. In the spring of my senior year, I did get to walk the graduation stage with my class, but I still had to complete10 more credit hours to get my diploma.

God has steered me in a lot of directions during my life. My first love was always the military and my second was sports. I really wanted to coach. I was offered a job to start women’s basketball at Eastern State College and to develop the program. The offer came in my senior year at Wayland but, even though I had walked the stage with my class, I still had to finish 10 credits to complete the Wayland graduation requirements, Thus I declined the job so I could finish my degree. I have often wondered what my life would have been had I asked them if I could have the job and finish my degree at a nearby college while coaching.

I returned home to Oklahoma for the summer and never returned to Wayland. To support myself, I worked for the Choctaw Nation as a lab assistant at a hospital in Talihina, Oklahoma. After two years my brother talked me into going back to school, so I went to Northeastern State University in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. A lot of Wayland classes would not transfer so it took three semesters to finish my degree. During that time, I played both basketball and softball for Northeastern. Looking back on my academic career, I decided that if I had worked at my studies from grade school on as hard as I worked at basketball, everyone would have thought I was Einstein’s sister.

After college sports, I played Native American sports. My team in basketball won two state championships, and in softball we won two national championships. In 2003, Tulsa World had a special section, “Oklahoma’s Greatest Athletes.” Being on that list with Jim Thorpe, Mickey Mantle, Troy Aikman and Johnny Bench was amazing.

I also decided to work on my masters degree but my dad passed away and I moved home to be with my mom, who couldn’t drive. Since it was the middle of the school year, a teaching job was out of the question. I ended up working 24 years in law-enforcement and was a three-year veteran in the Oklahoma National Guard in the 445 MP unit. When asked why I retired, I answer: “I got tired of ‘right foot drag,’ i.e., carrying a gun.”

My law enforcement career included a variety of assignments. I worked for the State of Oklahoma Penitentiary system as a correctional officer, transportation officer, case manager on death row. I worked for the Latimer County Sheriff’s Office as a jailer and jail administrator. I worked for Pinkerton Government Services providing security services in the aerospace/defense, industry. I guarded Boeing airplanes. I was also security guard at McAlester Army Ammunition Plant. I was only with the 445 Military Police for 3 years. I messed up my neck in a career- ending car wreck. I tried to go back in after 9-11 but was refused.

The reason I could retire was that I inherited a pesticide business from one of my brothers. In all, I have lost 4 of my 7 brothers. All died before age 50. I think I’ve spent at least 4 years of my life in hospitals dealing with their various illnesses including 6 months in Houston with one who had heart problems and was air-lifted from Tulsa to Houston. A lot of things have happened that made me strong. My little brother died after getting blood poisoning following dental work on a tooth. Along the way, he lost a leg, had to have open heart surgery and dialysis. One night when leaving the hospital, I was hit in the parking lot by a car. I had a dislocated my shoulder and my left knee was completely torn up. Three years of physical therapy later and I still couldn’t walk right. During this time a friend asked me to go with her to a year-long educational program to learn about the Trail of Tears. When I agreed, I didn’t realize it culminated with a 5-day, 60 mile walk along the Trail of Tears in Arkansas. Since my mom’s parents walked the Trail of Tears, I found this very interesting and even spiritual. It was led by a professor of Indian Studies from Washington State. The 2017 Trail of Tears walk also got me going again. Before it, I thought I would never walk right again. After it, I started doing 5Ks, and 6-mile and 9-mile marathons, which brought my legs back to life. That was a long struggle for me.

I am also a cancer survivor. I was given 6 months to live but I beat it. I’ve been hit by lightning three times. The first time it took a whole year for my heart to quit fluttering. The second time I was blinded in my right eye for 7 days. I was on the phone in the Army guard shack when a ball of fire knocked me backward and exited through my eye. As I was being transported from the base to the hospital, I thought I might die. However, this didn’t stop me from telling the ambulance staff about an article I had recently read in the Inquirer magazine about a man struck who was changed into a woman after being struck by lightning at a rodeo. I joked with them that I hadn’t checked yet to be sure I was still a woman. Humor is an important aspect of my life. The third time I was in Tulsa and I was standing too close to a building’s electrical box. I am truly lucky to be alive.

Currently, I live on a ninety-two-acre farm. My brother and his son, who has leukemia, live with me. I like keeping up the property and eventually hope to raise some cattle. I have seven dogs— a Great Dane, a Wheaton Terrier, and five Welsh Corgi’s. Besides my family, farm, and dogs, I love to play golf when time allows.

All in all, I have had an amazing ride in sports, but I consider being a Hutcherson Flying Queen my biggest ride. The Queens were amazing athletes. They played with heart and they are embedded in my heart. I also have to mention that Claude and Wilda Hutcherson were a true class act. What a love they had for each Queen!

In conclusion: Wayland and being a Hutcherson Flying Queen taught me through my life to have faith, perseverance, responsibility, sportsmanship, to strive for perfection, to respect and honor everyone, and to be a good example to all Queens past, present, and future. I received the “The Creed of a Hutcherson Flying Queen” by Carolyn James when I made the Queens. I still have my copy and I hope each Queen continues to receive one. I am including it because it is so important to me.

The Creed of a Hutcherson Flying Queen

I am a Hutcherson Flying Queen.

I accept responsibility for upholding the Flying Queen tradition of excelling in basketball and sportsmanship.

I know how to accept defeat, as well as victory.

I keep my body in good physical condition at all times.

I give my full attention in practice, as well as in a game.

I give 100 percent of my ability and effort to strive for perfection as an individual and as a member of this team.

I respect and honor my college, my team sponsors, and my coach.

I believe that every Flying Queen should be a diligent student and a good campus citizen.

I set a good example at all times so that everyone may know that I am proud to be a Flying Queen.

I give God the glory for all benefits and honors I enjoy as a member of this team.

I believe and follow this creed.

I am a Hutcherson Flying Queen.

To all Queens and Queen Bees past, present, and future I say OORAH. Once a Hutcherson Flying Queen, always a Queen. Godspeed.

Rosalie Ardese

Wayland Grad 1978

Flying Queens Forever!