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Of Fitzgerald and of Girls Basketball

Those who have been fans of basketball in south Georgia for a lengthy period of time might recall one school system that once operated a bit differently.

It wasn't unusual for some of the biggest schools not to offer girls' basketball. Columbus schools did not. Bibb County's white girls' schools did not play competitively (black schools, though, were co-ed and had hoops for both). But if you were in south Georgia, everybody played. Except Fitzgerald. Scheduling Fitzgerald in the regular season meant your boys played two more games or you had to mess up someone else's girls' schedule to even it out.

Fitzgerald High, land of the Purple Hurricanes had girls' basketball. Then they didn't. In 1957, they stopped. Paraphrased from the December 13, 1957, edition of the Fitzgerald Herald are the school's explanations:

  • National authorities believe it is 'harmful' for girls to compete at this level of sport. Only five states are said to have yearly state basketball tournaments.
  • The team is not very good, having a 4-13 record in 1956-57. The coach of the team believes that the won/loss ratio will not improve in 1957-58.
  • Intramural sports allow more girls to play and are at a 'safer' competition level. In lieu of varsity girls' basketball, Fitzgerald High is in the process of developing an intramural squad.
While there were concerns for the health and safety for Fitzgerald High, their concerns didn't extend to the other two high schools in the county. Both Monitor High and Queensland High continued to field teams and competed in the GIA until integration.

It took some time before Fitzgerald resumed girls' play. Finally, an announcement was made in 1978 that they would gradually get back into the game. For this first year only, they would play a B-team schedule with 10th and 11th graders. Donna Skinner was named head coach. Their first game was November 17, 1978 at Crisp County "B". Crisp won, 58-26.