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Hoops and Heroes – The Story of Army Women’s Basketball (Ep 172)
We are honored to bring this episode to you. You might say it’s a story of “hoops to heroes”. Last year, Melissa Miles, Cameron-Brooks alumnus from 1994, approached Cameron-Brooks and shared with us a project that she and West Point teammates Melody Lutz and Dena Caradimitropoulo were working on. Melissa (Miss) and Dena were USMA class of ’81, and Melody was USMA class of ’84. Miss, Melody and Dena were among the first graduating classes with women at West Point (the first class with graduating women cadets was the class of 1980.). Basketball was the first varsity athletics team that women formed at West Point. Those three, along with many others, were pioneers as some of the original members of the Army Women’s Basketball team.
A few years ago, Miss and Dena formed a nonprofit organization with the purpose of commissioning a professional writer to tell this special story, as seen through the eyes of West Point leaders, team supporters, coaches, and Army women’s basketball players. It covers from the start of the program in 1976 to the present day. It also covers players’ military and professional careers and contributions. Among the book’s themes are leadership, service to country, resilience through adversity, athletic accomplishment, diversity, inclusion and more.
The story of women at West Point has been told from several angles but never from the viewpoint of the Army women’s basketball team. It tells the story of how the team helped acclimate women to the academy, gain their acceptance and further the institution’s athletic and academy ideals — literally going from hoops to heroes.
In addition to Miss and Melody, Royd Lutz, USMA ’84, also joined the conversation. He and Melody were classmates and have been married for nearly 40 years. He, too, is a Cameron-Brooks alumnus (1989) and brings an excellent perspective to the conversation as someone who had a front-row seat as women started attending West Point and the Army Women’s Basketball team was formed. Fun fact: Royd and Melody’s son, Cliff, is also a Cameron-Brooks alumnus (2017).
I hope you enjoy listening to the history of Army Women’s Basketball. You can grab a copy of the book, as well as learn more at www.hoopsandheroesbook.org. We plan to record additional episodes in the future highlighting more stories and experiences from the book. For now, enjoy!
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