Class of 2010
When it came time to bring girls sports into equality, Bedford had Joan Baker, a phys ed teacher who was prepared to coach basketball and softball. A lot of girls were ready, too. And for the first seven seasons, they produced a record of excellence.
Baker s basketball teams won 92% of their regular season games. In a six year period (1973-1978) they lost two Bedford County games, both to Everett. Both years they came back to defeat Everett in a playoff for the league title. They were undefeated four of the six years and had a county record of 60 wins and two losses during this period. They beat Altoona every time they played, even coming back once from 15 points down to win by three. Baker taught them to know what to do on their own, while the Altoona girls had to hear oral commands.
They ran fast breaks, they used the John Wooden full court press, they loved defense. "The girls were in great shape," says Baker. "I ran the heck out of them." Each girl had to shoot 25 free throws on her own time. Boys coach Royce Waltman and Jim Hostetler ran a camp for the girls, and were invited to critique. The girls loved their end-line plays.
An article in the Gazette, in 1973, describes the girls bringing the ball down on a fast break. The ball never hit the floor. Baker says that was how they were taught. "We don t waste time." Kim Traynor, Nanette Leach, Mary Lindahl, Debbie Wolfhope, and Dauphine Hamilton were "cute as kittens and just as dangerous when provoked," the Gazette said.
A picture with the article shows the Bedford girls on the move, left, right and center, looking for the ball. "A set shot bounces high off the rim, out to a defensive forward, who turns for the outlet pass as the team wheels toward the far basket. A pass to midcourt, and two speedsters are angling in from the sides. The second pass goes to the one on the right, and the defender moves with it- too late, the next pass is perfect, to the shooter coming in from the left. Two points. The ball hasn t touched the court, the way a good fast break works."
Bedford won district championships four times in seven years. One year, they went to Pitt Field House to play Baldwin. Bedford had two handicaps-their regular season had been months earlier, and Baldwin was a much bigger school; girls basketball was not yet divided into several classes. But Bedford stayed close to Baldwin, and was down three points at the end of three periods. They lost by eleven points. Baldwin won the state title.
Coach Baker and her girls gave up Saturday mornings to run a clinic for grade school girls. They scouted opposition teams. Several went on to play college basketball.
In softball, Baker teams won 47 and lost 13 regular season games in six seasons. Her first team was 10-0, with no playoffs. In 1975, Bedford went 9-2, beating Everett in districts, then lost to Moon. In 1976, Bedford was 9-1, beating Southern Fulton and North Star to win districts, then lost to Seneca.
Jo Baker taught PE at Bedford for 23 years. She not only started basketball and softball programs there, but helped get programs started in the county and in District 5. Born in Carolltown, she won a BS degree from West Chester State College, and taught at Stoneycreek and Cumberland, before coming to Bedford in 1956. She retired in 1979, and maintains a home in Florida and summers in Bedford. She remains active in tennis and golf.
Bedford County Sports Hall of Fame
Bedford County, Pennsylvania