TEDxBoston

Elizabeth Galloway McQuitter

Basketball coach and president of Legends of the Ball for history of WBL, first pro women's league

Elizabeth “Liz” Galloway was born in Rockdale, Texas. High school girls’ basketball was big in the state and in Rockdale. She began playing in the neighborhood with her big brother and other neighborhood kids. After schools were integrated, she started playing in Jr. High in the eighth grade and by her freshman year was on varsity. She was on two state teams, one which finished runner up in her junior year and was named All-State. That was the year of Title IX. It is safe to say none of the players at the time knew what this new legislation would mean for the history of women’s basketball and their own personal journey with the sport they had grown to love. She would be named an All-Star her senior year and participate in a game that would bring her and her lifelong teammate and friend Debra Waddy- Rossow together. They would both go on to play together in college and in the WBL.

After high school, having played for three great coaches, Wanda Culp Mercer (MS), Ernie Lawrence and John Shoemake in high school, Liz graduated and headed up the road to play for Hall of Famer Fran Garmon and the Temple Junior College Leopardettes. This team would go on to win the FIRST NJCAA National Championship and beat the top four -year colleges along the way, including the eventual AAU champion, (pre-AIAW, NCAA) John F. Kennedy, prompting the coach to say that this junior college team was the best team in the country. In fact, TJC beat many four- year colleges, including UT, Baylor, SFA, UCLA, and others who were just forming teams with the scholarships Title IX afforded.

Liz and Debra (Waddy) left Temple to play for Dan Ayala at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Having offered organized basketball one year prior to their arrival, Title IX kicked in and the UNLV women’s basketball program was fully funded. They became the first female basketball players to receive athletic scholarships. Dan Ayala had been Jerry Tarkanian’s assistant at Long Beach State prior to UNLV and coached the Runnin’ Rebels with him. He, as did all her coaches, had a great impact on Liz and helped hone her defensive skills that would lead to her reputation as the best defender in the WBL.

After graduation, feeling that their basketball days were behind them, Liz and “Waddy” started grad school. Enter the WBL and Karen Logan. They were contacted by Logan and invited to Chicago to try out for the team as free agents. Both made the squad and went on the start and play in the first women’s professional game in the United States. Debra and Liz would finish with “double-doubles” with Waddy leading all scorers and rebounders with 30 points and 12 rebounds. Galloway would finish with 10 points, 10 rebounds.

Though a crafty scorer in the half court and a transitional player on offense, it would be on the defensive end of the floor where Liz would earn her moniker, “The Bandit”. She led the league in steals in the inaugural season with 136. No one was within twenty steals of her. They would play for two seasons with the Hustle for Doug Bruno and an organization headed up by John Geraty, President, and Chuck Shriver, General Manager that would make Chicago the best operating team in the league. They would fill the stands at Depaul’s Alumni Hall and Shriver garnered a television contract with WGN that broadcast the games nationally. It was a game changer and made them as popular as their male pro counterparts in Chicago. A special rivalry developed between the Hustle and Iowa Cornets proving to be some of the most competitive games in the league.

When the WBL folded after three years, Waddy moved back to Texas and became an educator and coach. Liz worked for former president John Geraty until she entered the coaching ranks as many of the WBL’ers would go on to do. She began her coaching career as an assistant at Northwestern University followed by her first head coaching job at Mundelein College. Assistant coaching positions at Dartmouth, and Depaul University (reunited with Hustle head coach Doug Bruno) followed before her first Division I head coaching positions at Lamar University and Northern Illinois University. Liz finished her collegiate coaching career as an assistant coach at Texas A&M under fellow WBL sister Peggie Gillom. Liz became an educator for K-12 and began a high school career at her Alma Mater, Rockdale High school and completing a 32-year coaching career at Legacy the School of Sport Sciences in Houston working for the school’s founder, former TAMU player, Kerrie Patterson Brown. Liz (and other WBL players) would influence this profession and players over the next four decades. Coaching is perhaps the group’s greatest impact as they have had their handprints all over the game after the league folded.

A WBL reunion in Chicago in 2003 proved to be the catalyst for Liz in her efforts to tell the story of this league and its pioneers. It would be a constant reminder up to the WBL induction into the WBHOF in 2018. Liz, along with eleven former WBL players who were teammates and friends formed Legends of the Ball, Inc. As president, she has made it her mission to bring this very important league out of the shadows and tell the compelling story of pioneers of Title IX, the AIAW, the Olympics, the WBL, and showcase their contributions to this game. They continue to pass it on and pay it forward. It is a rich history that needs to be cemented on the timeline of women’s basketball to help connect the dots to the present so that everyone that followed will know whose shoulders they stand on. This group certainly does.