“It gives people a center point. To appreciate the game 100%, you have to know how the game started and how it evolved…to learn about some of the many stereotypes and prejudices girls and women were up against just to play the game…to help open a dialog between mothers, grandmothers and aunts with the rest of their families about their involvement in basketball and other sports.”
John Molina’s interest in women’s basketball began when he was a child, growing up in Glastonbury. While playing in his grandmother’s attic, he happened upon a picture of her on a 1930’s J. B. Williams Soap Factory basketball team. His interest in how women’s basketball had evolved and progressed was piqued when he and his family began watching UCONN and the New England Blizzard games in the 1990’s. He wondered about the evolution of the game from the days of his grandmother playing in bloomers to the high-powered game of today.
He tried to learn more about the history of women’s basketball via the Internet but could find very little. He started researching on his own. He held his first exhibition of the history in 1999…in his house. Feedback was so positive that he created some websites on the history of women’s basketball -- based on artifacts he had been able to collect online and from women who supported his endeavors.
John’s next exhibit was to assist a scholarship fund in memory of a high school girl who had passed away from a brain tumor. Several local papers wrote about his work. He began to receive emails from students and teachers inquiring about the history of the game for projects they were doing.
Women would write and relate how they were talking to their daughters and other family members about the days when they played basketball. The web sites and Molina’s work were serving as catalysts for conversations about the history of the game. More and more long-forgotten stories began to surface…many from mothers whose daughters probably had no idea that their Moms played the game! More and more women who had played basketball contacted John as word of his historical collection grew. His websites continued to grow and attract publicity from Doris Burke, the Hartford Courant, and other magazines. In 2002, a documentary was filmed on women’s basketball by All American and WNBA All-Star, Michelle Edwards.
Diane Smith highlighted John’s work for 2002 segment of her television show, Positively Connecticut… that episode was nominated for an Emmy. He displayed his work on the history of the game at the 2003 CT Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame dedication at the Brenda Reilly Gallery at CCSU. Shortly thereafter, his work was exhibited for five weeks at the Newington Historical Society and appeared on a segment of WVIT 30 CT Discoveries with Brad Drazen.
Back in 1999, John’s research resulted in acquaintances with many of the players from the All American Red Heads Team, that played as far back as the 1930s and the team owner and coach, Orwell Moore. He was inducted as an honorary team member in 2004 at a reunion in Oklahoma City for his work in helping to promote the history and legacy of the Red Heads. Mo-lina had assisted many of the players in writing their autobiographies, which were posted on the Internet and became part of his exhibitions.
John served as Historian of National Women’s Basketball League (NWBL) from 2002-2005 and, in 2004, was given his own column for a women’s professional basketball magazine called OnPoint. His columns featured articles on various teams and historical topics. In 2005, his exhibit was used to help raise money for Kara Wolter’s charity, Kara Kares. That year he authored an article written about the All American Red Heads for the Women’s Sports Foundation website.
Much of 2005 and early 2006 was spent preparing an exhibit for the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) National Convention at the Division I Final Four in Boston. That exhibit was sponsored by the CT Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame. He also did an exhibit at the Regional Finals in Bridgeport.
John continues his efforts to preserve and promote the history of women’s basketball and is constantly searching for other venues and sponsors to help promote the game. His passion for the many aspects that make up today’s game has provided a wonderful legacy for past and future female basketball players. He hopes to someday have a museum dedicated to the history of women’s basketball.