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The reigning queens of basketball

Throughout history, "ladies" were discouraged from participating in team sports because it was thought competition would lead to "manly" behaviours. But thanks to pioneering athletes such as Bobbie Rosenfeld, Nancy Greene and Hayley Wickenheiser, young women now have the freedom to participate and excel in any sport — be it track, skiing or hockey. These women not only excelled in their chosen fields but were instrumental in shattering stereotypes of the female athlete.

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The man who invented basketball called them the finest team ever to step on to the court. Edmonton Commercial Graduates Basketball Team begins in 1915 as a women's amateur squad culled from a local high school. The Grads soon dominate the sport not just in Canada but around the world. Canada's wonder team boasts 16 consecutive world championships and an unprecedented record of 502 wins and just 20 losses.

After a remarkable 25 year run, the team disbands in 1940 due to travel restrictions resulting from the Second World War. But in its heyday, a Grads game is the hottest ticket in town. The reigning champs regularly pack arenas and have adoring fans worldwide.
• The Grads' last game was on June 5, 1940. It was their 522nd game and their 502nd victory.
• The best known Grad was Noel MacDonald, the team's star centre from 1933 to 1939.
• MacDonald was named Canada's most outstanding woman athlete in 1938.
• Women's basketball became an official Olympic event at the 1976 Montreal Games. Men's basketball became an Olympic sport in 1936.
• A total of 38 women played for the Edmonton Grads but Percy Page was its sole coach. The Grads attributed the team's success to the Page's unrelenting commitment.
• Page died in 1973 after a distinguished career in politics, culminating in his appointment as lieutenant-governor of Alberta in 1959.
• Dr. James Naismith (1861-1939), who invented basketball in 1891, grew up in Almonte, Ont., just outside Ottawa.
Medium: Television
Program: The Journal
Broadcast Date: Oct. 21, 1991
Reporter: Tom Alderman
Duration: 2:19
Photo: Canada's Sports Hall of Fame, reproduced from the National Library of Canada's website (www.nlc-bnc.ca).

Last updated: September 20, 2013

Page consulted on October 9, 2014

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