Virginia Tech Magazine
Letters to the Editor
Fall 2008

1973 Virginia Tech women's basketball team
From the 1973 Bugle, the 1973 women's basketball team and personnel. First row, left to right: L. Sam, manager; D. Starbird; M. Sloan; C. Smith; R. Wilkinson; S. Houland; L. Hurff; S. Reid, manager. Second row, left to right: J. Ristroph, coach; C. Wagner; J. Hinchion; M. Retzke; B. Glover; S. Tracy; P. Hall; J. Vicker-Smith; S. Kelly; N. Packard.
Women's basketball: then and now

Watching the U.S. women's basketball team at the Olympics reminded me of how much the game has evolved over the years. In 1973, Virginia Tech upgraded women's basketball from a club sport to a varsity level. I coached that team, and I would like to share some of its history with fellow alums. There were no scholarships, and I was a graduate student who served as a volunteer. We played only in-state colleges and universities, and when the team traveled, parents of players would host us in their homes.

We were 2-8 when I arranged for the team to have free beer at one of the fraternity houses, but only if we won. We then went 8-2, so our final record was 10-10. All of the women's teams competed in a statewide tournament at the end of the year, and we finished third. We might have won it all, in fact, if not for some unique officiating. I was the only male coach, and that seemed to bother a referee who called three technical fouls against us in the first half. She would not inform our players or the bench why she called the fouls and was getting ready to call one on me when I attempted to go onto the court to ask her about them. Finally, at halftime, I inquired why she had called the technicals. She looked at me with disgust and said, "For unladylike behavior." I asked if anyone had said anything inappropriate, and she replied that some yelled or made noise when they attempted to block a shot. I informed her that there was nothing in the rulebook about that, but she just walked off. I think that we lost by two points. After the game, the other referee sought me out and apologized for what had taken place.

The loss made it impossible to come in first in the state, but the team met and showed their character. They decided that since our next game might be our last, everyone should have equal playing time, particularly those who had gotten less time during the year. We won the next game, led by our reserves, who overcame a halftime deficit. This advanced us to the consolation game, for which I was allowed to choose one referee. I chose the woman who had given us a fair game in our loss; our third team started the game and we won it handily.

I still have the hat that I wore that winter, or what's left of it after it was roundly stomped at our post-season party, and I would love to hear from members of our team. Please e-mail me at

John H. Ristroph Ph.D. '76 | Lafayette, La.

Editor's note: The women's basketball team was not moved under the Department of Athletics until 1976, so official records for the team only go back to the 1976-77 season.

Bringing back memories

I had to chuckle [at the challenge to identify campus buildings, inside front cover, Summer 2008 issue]. I couldn't find my "rat year" barracks, "Ol' Number 7"--you know, the one with the moat around it and the two bridges to the entrances. (Darn, that sure was a cold place.) Nor could I find the lower quadrangle where I was the morning bugler and frequently got cold water poured on me on winter mornings just for blowing my horn. Anyway, as an alumnus who began in 1950 and graduated in 1957 (Uncle Sam got a couple of those years and I got the G.I. Bill), I enjoyed the piece.

William R. Britton '57 | Talladega, Ala.

The article by Amy Boyce about Florence Price Kinnear brought back many memories for me. When attending Blacksburg High School (class of 1957), I had Mrs. Kinnear as a substitute teacher in Latin. But our connections go even further back because my mother had many relatives in Price's Fork and was the exact same age as Mrs. Kinnear. I am sure they knew each other in their youth, and they could have been distantly related.

For some time, I have been reading Harry Temple's six-volume The Bugle's Echo. For someone who grew up in Blacksburg, this is a fascinating account of Tech history in unbelievable detail. As a kid, I knew many of the people who are mentioned. I am now at the 1927-28 session in Volume V. On page 3,456, a Miss Florence Kinnear from Randolph-Macon Women's College is mentioned as one of the partners who led off the pairs of the German Club Formals (October 1927). It has to be Mrs. Kinnear.

John M. Miller '61 | Silver Spring, Md.

Michelle Hess (finance '92) and Judy Earley Revels (communication '91) Michelle Hess (finance '92) with daughter Kayla (left) and Judy Earley Revels (communication '91) and daughter Kate learned that you never know when you might meet a fellow Hokie. Hess and Revels were seated next to each other while celebrating their daughters' birthdays at the American Girl Cafe in New York City. Hess, who lives in New Jersey, and Revels, who resides in North Carolina, had never met, but when they casually started talking about their respective trips, they learned that they were both Virginia Tech alumnae. The four got to know each other and promised to catch up again some day.

Editor's note: The university will be conducting a random e-mail survey later this fall. The survey will ask about your impressions of the Alumni Association, including alumni events and programs, as well as Virginia Tech Magazine and the VT NetLetter. If you receive the survey, please don't hesitate to share your opinions.

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