Girls’ Basketball History

St. Mary’s Girls’ Basketball, 1956-1970
by Claire Nolan

In November of 1955, two nuns, Sister Monica and Sister Marie Adrienne, appeared at the door of the gym at North Junior High School and said they were going to start a basketball team at St. Mary’s. Little did I realize at the time the drive, the determination and the dedication these two great nuns possessed. They were totally responsible for organizing and setting the standards that the teams would follow in the future.

In the fourteen years of competition the girls won the Class “B” Championship four times and were runners-up six times. One of the highlights of the fourteen years was in 1965 when St. Mary’s played against Matignon for the championship. The two teams were coached by the same person — quite a feat, to say the least!

The first graduating team of 1961 consisted of the following players: Diedre Casey, Peggy Curran, Claire Demeo, Margie Jenney, Kathy Lally, Carol LeClair, Barbara Mobilia, Lorraine O’Dette, Betsey O’Neill, Martha O’Neill and Judy Poirier. These girls set the pace for the future. We finished second that year. In the last quarter of the final game against St. Mary’s, Brookline, our high scorer, Claire Demeo, developed a charley horse and could not finish the game. That was back in the days when girls played two dribbles and only two roving players were allowed to cross the center line. Since then, the girls’ game has changed drastically, and we now play as the boys do, with a few minor adjustments.

The girls at St. Mary’s seemed to have that certain quality for making up for the lack of space and equipment passed on to them by the tradition set by the first team. This was clearly seen when, with such a small number of girls, the last team to play for St. Mary’s was able to field a team and still finish high in the league. A point of interest — we finished the fourteen years playing with the seven balls we started the program with in 1956 — another rare feat!

Other moderators who followed Sister Monica and Sister Marie Adrienne were Sister Joseph Delores, Sister Eileen and Sister Patricia. The whole program was made possible through the efforts of these fine women.

There are many names which come to mind, but rather than leave anyone out, we have only listed the names of the first team. Every girl who participated at St. Mary’s deserves a special commendation.

That knock at the door in 56 proved to be the beginning of the only sports program conducted at St. Mary’s Girls High School.

The many happy memories of those fourteen great years will linger on and on, never to be forgotten. There is just something SPECIAL about a St. Mary’s girl that I can’t put my finger on — Don’t ever change! Remember we are LADIES FIRST, ATHLETES SECOND

Miss Nolan is Director of Girls’ Physical Education, Grades K-12 for the City of Waltham School Department. She coached the St. Mary’s Girls basketball team for 14 years, and as a result of her work at St. Mary’s, she received the National CYO’s “For God and Youth Award” in 1970.