Long live the great tradition of basketball. Lots of young, all-American boys grow up under the influence of Bill Russell's defense or Oscar's offense. Lots of girls do too.
At Harvard, however, basketball has suffered from mediocrity and the influence of those stars has failed to shine. The Crimson quintet has also been over-shadowed by the men on skates. But playing second fiddle to most everyone has been the Radcliffe basketball team.
Some women's sports have achieved acceptance comparatively easily, but basketball, still associated with a masculine image, is still fighting its way into the center court.
For Susan Williams, leading scorer for the Radcliffe cagers, this fight has presented some problems.
"It's rather frustrating for my training and dedication to be belittled and unappreciated simply because women traditionally have not dedicated themseeves to athletic endeavors," she says.
Williams is from Arizona, where girls' high school basketball is taken just as seriously as the boys' program. The adjustment for her to the Eastern attitude toward women's basketball was at first difficult.
Since her arrival last year, however, Radcliffe has emerged out of the dusty confines of the Radcliffe gym into an equal court use with Harvard's five at the IAB.
"The move to the IAB was a tremendous psychological lift for us; the team has taken its training much more seriously," she said.
This Friday, Radcliffe will participate in a tournament at MIT. Teams from Brown and the University of Chicago will also be there, and despite a long layoff due to reading period and exams, Williams is encouraged.
Practicing in January
"A number of the women have been practicing on their own over January, and although we may not be in top shape on Friday I still think we should fare well," she says.
The camaraderie of the squad has been a big boost to the program. Much of the team is made up of members of the Radcliffe tennis team, who hope they can maintain their winning tradition through the winter.
So far a combination of a tenacious defense and a fairly well-balanced offense has led Radcliffe to a successful first half of the season. The squad's good height and overall dedication can only bring better things for the future.
It's been a long trek for Sue Williams from Arizona to Cambridge and an even longer one from the Radcliffe gym to the IAB, but she has made it to the center court.