University of Minnesota "Trailers" Basketball Team 1920
University of Minnesota "Trailers" Basketball Team 1920

Grudge Match

I asked Stacey (over at the Alumnae Relations department at St. Kate’s) if they wanted any rewrites on the Mother Antonia piece before starting to rehearse it for this year’s reunion. Stacey mentioned that after last year’s performance, someone had shared the story of how Mother Antonia gave permission for the basketball team to wear bloomers, and the Alumnae Relations folks were wondering if this could be worked into the play.

By way of background, Stacey sent me a paragraph on Modesta Reichert Gamble of the class of 1920, a basketball star known for “assuring Sister Antonia McHugh that the St. Catherine’s team could beat the University [of Minnesota] if she permitted them to change the cumbersome bloomers in which they customarily played.” So it appeared that M. Antonia actually gave permission for them not to wear bloomers!

Digging for more details, I was dismayed to find in Joel Rippel’s 75 Memorable Moments in Minnesota Sports that the University of Minnesota didn’t have a women’s basketball team in 1920. The U had abolished women’s intercollegiate sports in 1908, not to revive them till 1973. So did that write-up on Modesta Reichert get it wrong?

The digital collections of the St. Kate’s archives come to the rescue. It seems there was an unofficial (?) women’s basketball team known as the University of Minnesota “Trailers” which did play against St. Kate’s. And the record of the 1920 basketball season (see here for details) makes it very clear why both Miss Reichert and Mother Antonia might have been looking to press every possible advantage:

January 27, 1920
Northwestern National Bank Lady Employees: 2
College of St. Catherine: 62
(come on, girls, that’s just mean)

February 10, 1920
Wells Memorial: 13
College of St. Catherine: 33

February 26, 1920
University of Minnesota “Trailers”: 21
College of St. Catherine: 20
“Mable Prothers, Trailers star, caged the winning marker ten seconds [!!!! – Ed.] before time was called.”

February 28, 1920
Wells Memorial: 4
College of St. Catherine: 8

March 7, 1920
St. Paul YWCA: 14
College of St. Catherine: 22

March 10, 1920
University of Minnesota “Trailers”: 15
College of St. Catherine: 29
“Miss Modesta Reichert, playing in her last collegiate game, was the star performer of the conflict, annexing eleven goals.”

There’s a photo of the 1920 CSC team here.

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