Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Pioneer hoopsters to play on Saturday - Women reunite for charity basketball game

BLUEFIELD — A group of women who played high school basketball in the “pioneer days” of the sport in McDowell County is getting together on Saturday evening to raise money for a local effort to assist homeless people — and to relive their “glorious past.”

The women are now in their 40s and 50s, leading to the team’s name, the Hot Flashes, according to team member Paula Newbill Mlynczak.

The game is set to tip off at 6 p.m. Saturday at the Bluefield Recreation Center on Stadium Drive.

Ticket proceeds will help Open Heart Ministries, a Christian-based, non-profit alliance that assists temporarily homeless people. The effort helps people re-direct and re-establish their lives, Mlynczak said.

The Hot Flashes roster includes alumni of now-defunct Northfork, Welch and Big Creek high schools from McDowell County, as well as Mount View High. Some members of the Northfork Blue Demons 1979 state championship team have committed to play, Mlynczak said.

The oldest player is 56 years old, she said. The majority of the team is still living in southern West Virginia. “We have four or five from North Carolina,” she said.

The Hot Flashes will play a group of middle-school age girls from Bluefield who have chosen the collective name of Team Dominant.

Team Dominant includes “upper-tier middle school players,” several of whom are in AAU programs, said Mlynczak’s husband Larry, who works with his wife in Open Heart Ministries.

Paula Mlynczak said she got the idea for the game while watching a 2013 movie, “The Hot Flashes,” which starred Brooke Shields, Wanda Sykes and Daryl Hannah.

When Mlynczak started talking with area players from the past, their comment was, “Let’s do it,” she said. “They’re a very competitive bunch of girls.”

The practices have been productive, she said. “We had the fundamentals way back. We had great teachers. So when you hit the court, it’s time to get busy,” she said.

“The fundamentals started in junior high for us,” she said. Among their mentors at that age were Gladine Barner and Coach Turner at Welch. At Northfork, the girls program that won several state championships in the 1970s was inspired by Ron Tote, Henry Winkfield and Jennings Boyd, she said.

The Hot Flashes include former collegiate players.

Kimberley Newbill, who is Paula Mlynczak’s sister, and Sheila Huckleberry went on to play for Bluefield State. Cassandra Myers, a Northfork High alumna, played for West Virginia State College (now University). Leila Huckleberry also played college ball after graduating from Northfork.

The Hot Flashes are organizing another game next month at Kimball Elementary School. They are looking at playing additional games, with the goal of raising funds for local community betterment.


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