• Sam Allen

Flying Queen


I was born and raised in Friona, Texas. My parents, L.M. and Annie Crow, had nine children of which I was the youngest. My father farmed (mostly grain crops and cattle) and ran a grocery store/ meat market in Friona. As a youngster, I helped on the farm herding the cattle and milking. I also worked at the grocery store/meat market. I was good at cutting up the meat, but I didn’t like doing it very much. Each of my siblings had their assigned responsibilities and helped all they could.

I loved basketball from a very early age. I was tall and basketball seemed a perfect fit for me. I would play at school but, being from a working farm family, I didn’t feel there was really much time to spend on the game during after-school hours.

However, in high school I decided I would really like to play on the high school team. I would rush home after school on game nights and do all my chores so I could go back to school to “watch” the girls’ game. My siblings knew I was really playing, but no one wanted to tell my father because they all knew he disapproved of girls “wearing shorts in public.”

I think it was one of my brothers who finally told my father that I was on the team and was one of the best players. He surprised me one night by coming to watch me. He smiled and said, “Now, I just don’t want you to get hurt out there.” From then on, I never had to sneak out for another game.

I never really thought seriously about going to college because none of my other siblings had gone. My brothers became farmers and my sisters got married and started their families. Several of my older sisters had already started their families before I was born, so I had nieces and nephews who were actually older than me. Most of them lived in or around Friona, Texas, so some of them were as close to me as brothers and sisters. The summer after my high school graduation, a family friend suggested to my father that he allow me to go to college at Wayland Baptist College, promising that he would help keep an eye on me. I attended Wayland from 1946 to graduation in 1950.

I was very impressed with Wayland from the very first moment I stepped on campus. Although it was a little scary for a country girl from a small hometown, I felt it was a warm, friendly place.

I lived on campus in Willis Dorm and, there, happened to run across several girls who I had played basketball against in high school and at the Texas High School Girls State Tournament. We got together and decided we would like to play basketball for Wayland. Girls before us had organized their own teams on a club-sport basis, with a college faculty member as a sponsor and often a student as coach. We decided to see if the men’s basketball coach, Coach Harley Redin, would be our sponsor and coach us too. We became the Wayland Lady Jackrabbits, played nearby high schools and provided our own uniforms and transportation.

Although Coach Redin agreed, this group of determined girls pretty much practiced and worked out on our own, determined to be able to play the game we loved so much. Our “coach” was able to get us games with some of the better high school girls’ basketball teams in the area and a few organized town teams. He was even able to hire a men’s team of professional-type players to play against us. We didn’t win that game but were able to keep up and play a good game against the men.

It was 1947 before we were actually able to get a real schedule of games. J. W. Marshall, Wayland’s president, had become interested in our team and assigned Sam Allen, the Wayland track coach, the responsibility of developing the women’s basketball program. Coach Allen scheduled us to play Texas Tech and we won that game handily [27 -9]. Coach Allen also introduced AAU competition into the 1947-48 schedule. We only lost two games that season and both of our losses were in AAU tournaments. The first was in the semifinals of the Plains AAU Tournament in Amarillo and the second was in the Southwestern AAU Tournament in Dallas. When traveling to these tournaments, we had to stay in churches or private homes, as there was no budget and no one could afford hotels.

In 1948-49, we changed our name to the Harvest Queens, a much better name for a women’s team than Lady Jackrabbits. Coach Allen and Dr. Marshall had talked the Harvest Queen Mill into sponsoring us. They provided us uniforms and helped pay for us to play some AAU teams during the regular season and to go to St. Jo [Joseph], Missouri to compete in Wayland’s first ever National AAU Tournament. This was one of my biggest thrills and quite a memorable experience for a country girl. I played post and forward but, at this time, the game was only half-court. The women’s game was in the process of transitioning to full court, but during my time playing, I never was able to cross the centerline. We were defeated by one point in over-time by a team from Iowa in the second round of play.

I only played for Wayland for three years. I chose not to play my senior year [1949-50] so I could concentrate on my studies. I wanted to be sure I would graduate and be able to begin my career in teaching. That was the season that Claude Hutcherson flew the team to Mexico and the team became the Flying Queens. I was asked to come along, even though I hadn’t been playing, but decided I needed to stay home and study. To this day, that is my biggest regret.

I loved attending Wayland and have very good memories of the students, teachers, and friends I made there. I even met my future husband, Vernon C. Inmon, also a Wayland graduate, there although we didn’t meet again until later in life and married in 1982.

I did reach my goal of graduating in four years and becoming a teacher. I taught for over 32 years in Arkansas and Texas. I also did a lot of private tutoring throughout the years. I ended up living and teaching in Hereford, Texas, for many of those years. I still loved basketball and was a staunch supporter of the high school teams where I taught, especially the girls’ teams. I also have had a life-long love of crafting. I am an avid knitter and I’m known for my crocheted name banners and Christmas angels.

I am a proud graduate of Wayland and even though I was never a Flying Queen, I was a Harvest Queen and I’m so proud of being one of the founding members of this phenomenal women’s basketball program at Wayland.

I now live in assisted living at a nursing home in Hereford, Texas, and often wonder if any of my old teammates/friends are still living. If so, I would love to talk with them. On April 9, 2018, my daughter, Lynne Fuller, had a surprise 90th Birthday Party for me. Flying Queens’ ex-coach Cathy Wilson attended and gave me greetings and flowers from all former Flying Queens. She said that they were recognizing the fact that I may well be the oldest living Queen. If so, I am honored and proud. Coach Wilson and I, along with my niece Lila [Robason, who played for the Queens in 1947-48], are pictured below. I am on Coach Wilson’s left and Lila is on her right. In the picture from my annual, I am the tall one on the back right next to Coach Redin. I am greatly disappointed that the Flying Queens were not selected for induction into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame because my daughter was planning to take me.