'The Starting Six' exhibit now open at CCH

Tuesday, March 6, 2018
A wide variety of jerseys and letter jackets are currently on display in the recently opened “The Starting Six” exhibit at the Clay County Heritage Center. Other artifacts on display include a number of trophies, video footage, and a “foul tree,” one of the sport’s oddities used for record keeping.
(Photo by Joseph Hopper)

“The Starting Six,” the newest exhibit on display at the Clay County Heritage Center, has opened to the public. The exhibit features many artifacts from a time when six-on-six women’s basketball was one of the most popular sports played in Clay County and rural Iowa. State-championship caliber teams hailed from some of Clay County’s smaller-sized communities.

“It was huge in this area of smaller schools,” director of collections Braden Falline said. “At one point every small town in Clay County had its own team.”

Artifacts from a wide variety of teams, such as uniforms, trophies, game programs and even a basketball and basketball hoop used for the sport are currently on display. Also featured are items from Everly’s 1966 championship season and from the sport’s most famous game, the 1968 championship between Everly and Union-Whitten.

“(Six-on-six basketball) was unique to Iowa, and nowhere else in the country,” Clay County Heritage Director Stephanie Horsley said. “That’s what made it a big deal, especially in the small towns.”

Video of some of the matches played are also on display at the exhibit.

“There’s the videos of the game that are really neat to watch, it gives you a better idea of what the game is if you have never seen it,” Falline said.

Horsley said her favorite items in the exhibit were the many uniforms encompassing various decades of the sport’s existence.

“I like the uniforms, they’re really fun,” Horsley said. “Some of them were hand-made, (and) we have letter jackets, lots of letter stuff.”

Horsley said community reception to the exhibit has been positive.

“We’ve gotten a lot of interest in the exhibit, so many women played back in the day,” Horsley said. “It’s been great, we’ve just had so much wonderful support from the community. It’s just really gratifying to know people support us, they’re interested in what we have to do here at the heritage center. I’m really pleased with (the exhibit).”

For those wishing for a chance to witness the sport being played again, a tournament-style exhibition of the sport will be played in the Spencer High School fieldhouse Saturday, April 28, by members of the Granny Basketball League.

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