They were basketball’s version of A League of Their Own, only better. On Saturday, a group of trailblazing women who utterly dominated their sport for a quarter of a century were featured on Google’s home page.
The Edmonton Grads were the Google Doodle to mark the team’s induction into Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame on this day in 2017.
The Grads, who were also known as The Edmonton Commercial Graduates Basketball Club, began as a high school girls basketball team before becoming a sports dynasty.
Known as Canada’s most successful team in history, they won 17 world titles and went 502-20 from their founding in 1915 to 1940, when they folded due to demands of the Second World War and falling attendance.
They went undefeated in the Western Canadian Championships from 1926 to 1940, and won 29 of 31 games in the Canadian Championships — never losing a series.
After the Grads won the Underwood International tournament, also known as the “North American championship,” for 17 years straight, tournament organizers decided to let them keep the trophy permanently.
Coached by J. Percy Page, who would go on to become Lieutenant Governor of Alberta, the Grads collected four straight exhibition Olympic titles, winning all 27 matches. They played nine games against men’s teams and won seven of them.
But the Grads never won a medal, since women’s basketball was not yet an Olympic sport.
Edmonton Grads honoured in Heritage Minute
The Google Doodle was created by Olivia Huynh, who addressed how the team defied stereotypes that had discouraged women from participating in competitive sports.
“I hope that people will be inspired to learn more about the Grads and the history of women’s basketball,” Huynh said in a statement.
“It was fewer than 150 years ago that women were playing in blouses and bloomers. It’s hard to imagine. Now, new heights continue to be reached and possibilities extended — thanks to the hard work of teams like the Grads.”
Huynh was surprised the Grads were not necessarily a household name, considering their success.
“When I was reading about the Grad’s first world championship game in 1923, I thought it was incredible that they were considered the underdogs.
“No one can know how much potential you have until you try. Now their team holds so many records still.”
When the Grads first started, basketball was a fairly new sport, having been invented in 1891 by Canadian James Naismith. He would later recognize the Grads as “the finest basketball team that ever stepped out on a floor.”
The Google Doodle is a section of the website above the search bar where the company’s logo usually is but is changed occasionally to celebrate holidays, anniversaries and the lives of famous artists, pioneers and scientists.
Below: concepts for the Google Doodle
— With files from The Canadian Press
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