Picture that picture. It’s a photo of San Diego’s oldest female basketball players lined up in shorts, playing in the cemetery. It’s 1985.
The goal is to get all seven players in that picture into a national championship game.
“Took everybody’s best game to make the playoffs that year,” team coach Maureen San Nicolas says. “Some had never stepped foot on a basketball court, and these were the top local women’s basketball teams.”
Arnold Hoiles won the North American championship that year. It was the oldest trophy he ever won. His older brother, Bud, was also on the team and won the state championship the year before. They were not allowed to practice together that year, but one of the players – Karen Contreras – played for both teams.
“In those days, you had a couple of players on each team,” she says. “There was only about one hour to train.”
“Me and Karen were the only two that were ever in high school at the same time,” San Nicolas says. “If she got a scholarship, she was going to go to college, and if I got a scholarship, then I was going to play at San Diego State. That was about it.”
Arnold says they practiced about once a week, and then played in the cemetery. “It was a little like playing on Mother Earth,” he says.
His advice to the women today: “Earn a scholarship, if you can get one, play basketball. Everybody is dumb if they don’t play basketball.”
Arnold says he played basketball at the university level until 1971, when he was drafted into the NFL.