The Formation of the Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union

Narrator: forty some years before Mavis Van
Cleave saved girls’ basketball in Montezuma, there was a battle brewing that would have
an impact on athletic opportunities for young women in Iowa for years to come. In 1925 a national movement argued that sports
were harmful to young women, and the Iowa High School Athletic Association listened. When this movement threatened girls’ basketball,
a group of school administrators, all men, mostly from small schools, stood up for the
Iowa girl. They broke away from the boys’ association
and formed the Iowa Girls’ High School Athletic Union, the first and only organization of
its kind in the nation. E. Wayne cooley was executive secretary of
the Iowa Girls’ High School Athletic Union for nearly fifty years. E. Wayne Cooley, Executive Secretary, IGHSAU
1954-2002: She deserved her own singular identity, not as a second cousin to the boy. She deserved an identity that was all her
own and nobody else. Narrator: After the organization of the Iowa
Girls’ High School Athletic Union, Six-on-Six grew stronger and stronger in rural areas,
but essentially disappeared from urban schools until the late 1960s and early ’70s. By the 1940s more than 70 percent of the teams
fielded in the state were from schools with enrollments of fewer than one hundred students. Small towns identified with their girls’ basketball
teams, and parents and business leaders alike took pride in their achievements.