I’m Susan Britton Ford and I played on the Flying Queens from 1968-1972. I grew up in Earth, TX with two sisters, Beverly and Janet, and one brother, Brian. I was in the gym any time it was open for free play. My Springlake-Earth High School team won the Texas UIL 1A State Championship in 1966-67 and in 1967-68. In my sophomore year, 1965-66, we lost the final game by 5 points to Jordanton, led by Carolyn Dornak who also became a Flying Queen. I was an All-State forward for 3 years. Near the end of my senior year in high school, Coach Redin asked if I wanted to compete in the National AAU Tournament in Gallup, New Mexico on the Queen Bees team. The Queens Bees were the junior varsity or “B” team for the Queens. The Bees mostly played high schools but they were good enough to compete in the AAU Tournament. They competed under the name Silverton TF&R Queen Bees and were sponsored by Silverton businessmen Shelly Tomlin, K.M. “Kink” Fleming and Alvin Redin, father of coach Harley Redin. Judy Gover, an All-State guard from Springlake-Earth, was a freshman at Wayland and was on this Queen Bees team. It was fun to play together again. Our team, coached by Betty Donaldson, had high hopes of the Bees advancing far enough to play the Queens in the National Tournament. That dream did not come true but my decision to go to Wayland was cemented by this experience.
I had a wonderful experience at Wayland. In addition to basketball, I stepped a bit out of my comfort zone and represented Phi Mu Alpha in the Miss Wayland my freshman year. I also became engaged to Jim Allison. The most important thing that happened is that I accepted Jesus as my personal savior during my junior year when I was 21 years old.
As true for many Queens, basketball gave me an opportunity to travel. In the summer of 1969, Cherri Rapp and I went to Mexico, Panama, and Columbia on the United States team, coached by Alberta Cox. This was my first exposure to International Rules and it proved helpful, as the AAU had adopted the five-man, full-court system for the 1969-70, season. In preparation for that season, Coach Redin scheduled us to play the Mexican Olympic team. We won two out of three contests and benefited greatly from the experience with international rules— 5 on 5, full-court play. In 1971, I played on the United States Pan American team. Six Queens, Janice Beach, Carolyn Dornak, Cherri Rapp, Marcia Shieldknight, Mary Williams and I, formed the nucleus of that team. Coach Redin was chosen by the United States Women’s Basketball Olympic Committee to coach the team. His assistant was Coach Dean Weese, who followed Coach Redin as coach of the Queens. We finished the Games with a 5-1 record, but the gold medal went to Brazil who had handed us a 4-point loss. Coach Redin said we were the best USA team he’d ever coached.
We also logged a lot of miles within the United States. In addition to the regular season, we played national tourneys in Gallup, Council Bluffs and Amarillo. At the AAU National Tournament in Gallup, New Mexico we finished 3rd in 1969 and were National Champions in 1970. The AAU Tournament moved to Council Bluffs, Iowa in 1971. We repeated as National Champion in 1971 and finished 4th in 1972. I was an AAU All-American my last three years and an Honorable Mention AAU All-American my first year. At the end of my freshman year, we competed in the first annual National Women’s Invitational Tournament (NWIT) in Amarillo. The tournament was sponsored by the Amarillo Chamber of Commerce and was limited to college and university teams. We won this tournament each of my four years.
After graduation, I married Jim Allison. We were married for 26 years and the birth of my three children was a highlight. After a divorce, I was single for 8 years before I married Trevor Ford, the love of my life. We have been married for 11 ½ years. I have three children, three stepchildren and five grandchildren. Trevor and I have enjoyed traveling. We have taken two cruises to Alaska, gone Branson, MO four times, and been to the Caribbean. Within Texas, we like Gruene, Holly Lake and Lake Conroe. In New Mexico, we have enjoyed Albuquerque, Red River, and Ruidoso.
I was a teacher for 24 years. I didn’t begin my career until my youngest started kindergarten. I have taught and coached in three districts (Smyer, Whiteface and Prosper) and my load involved various combinations of subjects — 3rd grade; physical education at the K-6, junior high, and high school levels; TAKS math and regular math; junior high girls’ basketball and track and high school girls’ basketball, track, and cross-country. I retired in 2009.
If I got a chance to talk to current Queens and/or their coaches, I would tell them the main thing I learned from playing basketball was to “never give up!” This life lesson has never been so important to me as it is now because I am fighting PSP-progressive supranuclear palsy, an uncommon brain disorder that causes serious problems with walking, balance and eye movements, and for which there is no cure! I would also tell them to have fun and enjoy the game.
I would love to reconnect with Queens and other friends from Wayland! I cherish those relationships and I feel like I can pick up conversations and continue like I never left Wayland!
Susan Britton Ford
Wayland Grad 1972
Flying Queens Forever!