EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WEHT) — Linda Yearby — along with her classmates at the Midway Grade School in Spencer County — left a jar in the ground before graduating the 8th grade in 1950, but it was displayed Saturday at the Indiana Sports Hall of Fame induction ceremony Saturday.
Meanwhile, Yearby is being recognized for her decades-long career as a basketball player, coach and owner, and for advancing the game for other girls and women to play when only the men were able.
“It makes me feel real great that I’ve done something because I’ve helped in lots of ways for other girls to play,” Yearby said.
In January 2022, Brian Hanson discovered the capsule with a metal detector and documented the discovery for his YouTube channel.
“In the metal-detecting world, it’s considered a find of a lifetime to find such a time capsule,” Hanson said.
Hanson and the Yearby family collaborated with Faith Fairhope — who owns the Midway Grade School — to bring Yearby’s story to life and eventually make a call to the hall of fame to have her potentially become an inductee.
“I thought ‘I want to do everything I can to make it happen,’ and I just stuck with it,” Fairhope said. “And I was focused — all of my friends know I was focused on us getting here. So, I’m just glad that it’s happening.”
Yearby’s basketball career began at shooting baskets at her family’s grocery store before heading to school in Bloomfield.
She advocated for herself and eventually tried-out for Midway’s all-boys team, and made it.
“I just wanted to be myself. You know, play,” Yearby said. “I wasn’t trying to smoke other people out or anything. I wanted to just love the game — love the game and love to play. That’s what I did.”
Yearby developed as a professional player known as a barnstormer for teams like the Texas Cowgirls and the Arkansas Lassies.
She would travel to other gyms — most of the time being high school gyms — and play against men across America and even in Europe.
“We only made five dollars a game back then,” Yearby said. “We didn’t care how much we got paid when we played basketball; it didn’t matter.”
Yearby says it was important to give back to other players — especially girls — because of her love of the game.
One of the teams she coached was the all-Black “New York Harlem Chicks,” where she advocated for the players’ rights to stay in motels and eat at restaurants.
“I just couldn’t back out,” Yearby said. “There was no way I wanted to back out because I was there to coach as well as to play.”
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