WBA NEWS WATCH
November 20, 2021
COMING SOON SHOOTING STAR
- By Chrissy Fletcher…
- In an era when women had to go overseas to pursue their dream of playing professional basketball after college, one man had a vision. His vision? To create a professional basketball league for women right here in the United States. A league where women could play their “natural game” and still be close to friends and loved ones. There would be hurdles to overcome; struggles that would seemoverwhelming; doubts that would be ever pressing and lead to questions as to whether this idea would ever become a reality. This is a story of one man that was willing to lean in to the whispering voice of God…Lightning Mitchell is a man of humble means, whose dream in life was to play professional football for the NFL. His aspirations led him to try out for the Philadelphia Eagles where he successfully made the first cut for spring training and from there to the last-round draft players.But God had different plans for Lightning’s life and Lightning walked away from his professional football dream when he felt God tugging him in another direction.After a time of prayerful searching, Lightning was impressed to begin a venture that would stretch his faith to limits he had never imagined possible. He decided to start up the first ever spring and summer professional basketball league for women.Lightning began taking steps to ensure this new basketball league for women, and with every step, God was there paving the way, even though he often did not see it. But as time progressed, he began to clearly see Gods leading. And so, the WBA (Women’s Basketball Association) was created.To say that there were challenges along the way would be an understatement. Many obstacles blocked the path to success. Money, staffing, player interest, and community support are just a few of the roadblocks Lightning ran into as he began his journey. But when things looked bleak God would always provide a path around the difficulties.As you read this book, you will be caught up in the games played and find yourself hoping that the outcome of the WBA will be a triumphant one. You will also be introduced to some amazing women. Players like Robelyn Garcia (University of Kansas) and Sheryl Schroeffel (College of the Ozarks). These two players were the engine of the first tour of the WBA.They were the two that inspired all the other players as well as the fans.Sarah Campbell (University of Nebraska) was like the Magic Johnson of the WBA and Maurtice Ivy (University of Nebraska) the Michael Jordan. When their teams matched up it was thrilling. One fan was heard saying that the game was better than watching the NBA. The Kansas City Star called that game the “Shoot out at the OK Corral”. The St. Louis River Queens had two players that really stood out. Petra Jackson (Southern Illinois University) and Chris Aldridge (Easter Illinois State University). These players were the queensof women’s professional basketball in St. Louis, Missouri. They dared teams to come into their home court thinking they were going to take a victory from them. The opposing teams were usually sent backdown the river with a loss on their record.And in the windy city of Chicago, we catch a glimpse of Diana Vines (DePaul University) and E. C. Hill (Northern Illinois University) who fought to make sure that the championship banners remained in Chicago regardless of the cost. When they hit the court, they gave 110% every time! As the seasons of the WBA progressed, the challenge to become successful and make enough money to pay the girls and the coaches and staff proved exceedingly difficult and Lightning was hard pressed to find sponsors who would take an interest in the WBA and help with its growth. He used all the resources he could think of, even going so far as contacting NBA players like Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson. He contacted major news networks to see about getting some of the WBA games televised, but both of these avenues proved unsuccessful. Then he decided to contact the NBA personally and see if he could interest them in sponsoring his league.
- After speaking with someone from the NBA commissioner’s office he was asked to send information regarding the WBA to a women named Val Ackerman. She feigned interest in Lightning’s league and he sent her his entire game plan. He left nothing out. This would prove to be a detrimental mistake on Lightning’s part. This would be the beginning of the end for the WBA.Follow this journey through the rise and fall of the Women’s Basketball Association. Watch as God’s invisible hand leads and directs Lightning through some of the most advantageous years of his life and catches him when unexpected and disheartening days threaten to steal away all traces of joy.This is the untold story of the WBA: Forerunners of the WNBA…