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Collected wisdom: Judy Bugher and Oma Gean Capps

by Berry Tramel Published: July 6, 2013

photo - Oma Gean Capps was honored in June at the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame as one of the players on the Flying Queens. Photo provided.
Oma Gean Capps was honored in June at the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame as one of the players on the Flying Queens. Photo provided.

JUDY BUGHER, 76, Slaughterville

OMA GEAN CAPPS, 78, Norman

From 1953-58, the Wayland Baptist University Flying Queens won 131 straight women's basketball games. Led by legendary coach Harley Redin and sponsored by Claude Hutcherson, whose air service flew the Queens of Plainview, Texas, to games all over the country, Wayland Baptist won four straight AAU national championships. In June, the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame in Knoxville, Tenn., honored the Flying Queens with its Trailblazers of the Game award. Twenty-one of the 31 players from those Flying Queen teams attended the festivities, including Oklahomans Judy Bugher and Oma Gean Capps.

Bugher, who grew up south of Noble, played high school basketball for eventual Oklahoma Sports Hall of Famer Paul Hansen, played for Wayland Baptist from 1955-58 and later was a noted coach herself, as a high school volleyball coach in Texas and as the OSU women's basketball coach from 1977-83.

Capps, who grew up in Blair, near Altus, played at Wayland Baptist from 1953-56 and returned to Blair, where she taught for 23 years.

Judy Bugher: “That event was so wonderful. There were 21 of us got back together. It was just like we'd been out for the summer. At Knoxville, we'd just stay down in the lobby of that big hotel and hung out and talked and ate. We were like a little covey of quail, where one was, the other one was. That's the way we were in school. We were very dear friends. You just make friends for life.”

Oma Gean Capps: “I guess besides seeing my old friends, seeing our display there on the wall of the museum was the most exciting. Another thing that was exciting, autographs. I knew they were going to have an autograph session, so they seated us all at these tables, all stretched out. I thought, ‘Well, who wants my autograph?' But we signed autographs for I'll bet an hour at least.”

Judy Bugher: “Whether we knew we were trailblazers, no, we weren't aware of things like that when we played. We were aware there wasn't any other group, any other team, doing what we had done. It was really quite an honor. We were all really excited that someone did remember us enough and think about us enough to name us trailblazers of the game.”

Oma Gean Capps: “I came from Oklahoma, where most of the schools, at least the small schools, had girls basketball. It wasn't such a big deal. Until Title IX came in, I don't think I was aware of how many places girls didn't get a chance to play basketball. They didn't do it until they had to.”

Judy Bugher: “I grew up where I'm sitting right here. My mother is 101 years old. We live seven miles out of Noble, down Highway 77, then two miles east. Growing up in Noble, basketball was my life, and I also helped mother and dad on the farm. Then go out and shoot baskets til it was dark.”

Oma Gean Capps: “I was a country girl. Blair school was almost as big as it is now. There were 16, I believe, in the graduation class. You know, all those small towns, they've struggled to keep going.”

Judy Bugher: “Coach Hansen was my high school coach. When I went in as a freshman, he came to Noble High School. I tell you, he was the starting of my basketball and my love for the game. There was just hardly anything else that was as important to me as playing basketball in high school. We were really good, we won state at Noble. Coach Hansen sent us on the right track at Noble. We were just a bunch of little country bumpkins. He was just great.”

Oma Gean Capps: “What advice would I have for a young girl? Get her a goal in her backyard. That's what I had. And it was made out of wood. A big, square piece of wood. My brother, Onzel, may have made it. I remember him out there telling me how to drive to the left, just like I drove to the right. Told me I ought to never miss a free shot.”

Judy Bugher: “I had a first cousin, was a teacher out at Plainview Junior High. She knew about the team because she was teaching there. She was the one that got word back to me. We drove out to Plainview. We drove all night, because I had been in the senior play. We got down to Plainview, and the first thing we did, Claude Hutcherson said, ‘We're going to go for a plane ride,' to make sure we liked to fly. I loved it. Through all the tryouts, I just remember, this is where I want to be. More than anything, that's all I wanted to do was go out there and be a part of that program.”

Oma Gean Capps: “My brother Verl, he was the one that really heard about Wayland and steered me in that direction. He lived in Texas and heard about Wayland. He called up and talked to Harley. Harley said he didn't have any scholarships left because he had just had tryouts. Verl talked him into letting me come out. I worked out with them several times. I had an academic scholarship that would cover me first semester. He (Redin) told my brother, if I made the team, the second semester, he'd give me a scholarship. So that's what happened.”

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by Berry Tramel
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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