Above The Rim in Knoxville, TN ...
Women's Basketball Hall of Fame
Scores High with Visitors
By Katy Koontz
The Women's Basketball Hall of Fame in Knoxville, TN, scores points before you even enter the building.
That's because the world's largest basketball -- complete with 96,000 regulation nubs -- adorns its roof.
The 30-foot wide, 10-ton orange orb is cleverly poised atop a glass staircase designed to resemble a basketball net. (See photo at left*)
Opened in 1999, the hall of fame is located in Knoxville partly because this college town is home to the eight-time national champion University of Tennessee Lady Volunteers.
The team won its latest championship this year. The Lady Volunteers are coached by local legend Pat Summitt.
Coach Summitt is the winningest basketball coach in the history of the game -- both men's and women's basketball.
Touring the Hall
Above, the Rotunda of the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame in Knoxville, TN, is readied for a Hall of Fame induction event.*
Ready to visit the hall? Then let's get started....
It's best to start your tour of the hall by watching the hall's 15-minute film covering the history of women's basketball.
The inspiring story begins in 1892 with Senda Berenson of Smith College adapting the original men's rules to make the game more “ladylike” for her students.
The film then takes you through the years to modern times, including the creation of the Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA).
(A statue in the Hall's Rotunda showcases the skills and indominable spirit of several female basketball players. See photo at left.*)
Next, a timeline outside the theater shares some fun facts.
For example, you'll read that until 1918, the net wasn't open at the bottom. Players had to pull a chain to get it to drop through the basket.
Next, an animatronic version of Coach Berenson speaks from a makeshift early locker room that's actually a janitor's closet.
What's up with that? Seems that in the early years, women's teams had to get ready in closets like this one, or perhaps under the bleachers or on the bus.
Around the corner is a modern locker room. Here, you can sit on the benches and listen to recordings of top coaches giving pre-game and halftime locker room talks.
The hall's impressive rotunda displays jerseys of the Players of the Year for high school, college and professional women's basketball.
Check out the rafters for the Ring of Honor, more than 100 jerseys recognizing current high school and college standouts.
In the display cases of Olympic and Pan-American memorabilia (shown at right*) look for Pat Summitt's jersey from the 1976 Olympics. That was the first year that women's basketball was part of the Olympic games.
Moving downstairs, you might shoot a few hoops yourself on three different courts with baskets at differing heights.
One is a court from the past, complete with canvas-strip basket and wooden backboard. One is from the present, while a neon-adorned court represents the future.
The hall also offers a timed dribble course and a few other tests of skill.
Then continue your tour back upstairs by viewing a 1966 five-seat stretch limo belonging to the All American Red Heads.
The Red Heads were a professional women's basketball team started in 1936
The team toured the country for 50 years. They outplayed men's teams using men's rules -- and won 500 of their 642 games!
Next, you might join virtual players mid-game, huddling in a tight circle as you hear recordings of various college and pro coaches calling plays during an actual time-out.
Before you leave, check out the Winners' Wall (recognizing the most current championship teams from every level) and the Hall of Honor (recognizing all the Hall of Fame inductees).
(Basketball stars previously inducted into the Hall of Fame are shown at left.*)
More names will be added on June 14, when the hall holds its 10th annual induction ceremony.
The basketball achievements of Patty Broderick, Lin L. Laursen, Debbie Ryan, Jill Rankin Schneider, Suzie McConnell-Serio and Michele Timms will be highlighted in the upcoming ceremony as these women receive the coveted Eastman Award.
Information for Visitors
The Women's Basketball Hall of Fame is located at 700 Hall of Fame Drive.
Admission is $7.95 for adults and $5.95 for seniors (62 and up) and children 6 to 15. There is no charge for children under 6.
From May 1 to Labor Day, summer hours are Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and Sunday from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.
From Labor Day through April 30, hours are Tuesday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and Sunday from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. During this period, the hall is closed on Monday.
For more information, call 865-633-9000 or visit www.wbhof.com.