Full Court Press

How Pat Summitt, a High School Basketball Player, and a Legal Team Changed the Game

  • Author(s): Haltom, Bill and Amanda Swanson
  • Series:
  • Imprint: University of Tennessee Press
  • Publication Date: 2018-11-20
  • Status: Active
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“What a nice description of the progression of women’s basketball in the 1970s! Bill Haltom and Amanda Swanson paint a very accurate picture of the environment in women’s athletics at that time in this new book.”—from the Foreword

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When Victoria Cape moved to Oak Ridge, Tennessee, in the early 1970s, she had no idea that her desire to play basketball would change the game for women and the sport in Tennessee. Encouraged to sign up for basketball by her athletic father, Victoria was in for a shock: the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association endorsed an entirely different form of the game for high school women than the version of basketball commonly played around the country. Women played six-on-six basketball, in which offensive players stayed on one half of the court, and defensive players on the other half—defenders could spend their entire careers without taking a shot. Victoria Cape sued the TSSAA, and her lawsuit paved the way for women to play basketball by the same rules as men and served as an early test case of groundbreaking Title IX legislation. Further adding to the case’s history-making précis was the presence of a young Pat Summitt, recently elevated to head coach of the Tennessee Lady Volunteers, who bravely testified on behalf of Cape during the lawsuit.

Full Court Press is a valuable addition to research on how individual initiative can bring about social change—in Tennessee, in the sporting world, and as a part of the broader struggle for women’s equality. Written in a lighthearted and inspiring style, this book is a must-read for anyone fascinated by the many achievements of Pat Summitt, Tennessee women’s basketball, or women’s sports history in general.

 

Bill Haltom is an attorney with the firm of Lewis Thomason in Memphis, Tennessee. A practicing attorney for four decades, he has served as the president of the Tennessee Bar Association and the Memphis Bar Association. He has been an award-winning newspaper columnist and has written six books, including The Other Fellow May Be Right, a biography of the late Tennessee Senator Howard Baker.

Amanda Swanson worked as women’s basketball operations assistant at Mount St. Joseph University and is currently a law student at the University of Virginia.