Girls Athletic Association
Pat Scott Adams, a 1960 graduate of McKinley, now has a private counseling practice, Troy Counseling Center, in Troy, Missouri. Pat received a BA in Journalism from the University of Missouri and a Master's degree in Counseling from UMSL. She worked in advertising and public relations. She has written several articles for medical and veterinary journals. She has also written articles for St. Louis Magazine as well as a pet column for several years in the Journal Newspapers.
"The Girls Athletic Association was organized in 1926 to afford the opportunity for participating in various activities suited to all-around physical development. All the girls of McKinley are members."
-- (Nugget, 1935, pg. 93)

GAA – OUR SPORTS MODEL

The Girls Athletic Association (GAA) was McKinley’s sports answer for the female jocks. Many of us had played volleyball, softball and basketball at our elementary schools and churches. We also danced and jumped rope to keep our athletic ability alive before women’s sports received the universal recognition it does today.

At McKinley we met after school on Tuesdays and Thursdays to play either volleyball or basketball depending on the season. It was called intramurals, meaning we had no outside competition like the boys did in football and other mainstream sports to play arch rivals at other schools. Each season we voted for team captains and some of it was by athletic skills but most of it was by popularity. Then the team captains chose us just like they did on the playgrounds. How embarrassing to be chosen last, but it always happened to some of us. And if you were separated from your own friends, too bad. As a freshman and a sophomore I idolized my team captains because they were always juniors and seniors. At the first McKinley Alumni luncheon I attended, I spoke to Marilyn Padfield and Donna Brandon who were both team captains when I was a lowly freshman. I thought I was in celebrity heaven.

Our sponsors during my years from 1956-1960 were Mrs. Doris Meltner, Mrs. Barbara Najero and Miss Karen Weir who were also the instructors for our physical education classes. I lived for GAA! I wouldn’t miss school on those days. But I hated the required gym suits we had to wear for class and for GAA: blue, bloomer-bottomed, one-piece outfits that snapped. Many of us chose to wear our uniform all day with skirts (slacks were taboo) and it was a feat to use the bathroom during the school day. Very few girls liked to undress in the locker room and I don’t know anyone who ever used the showers. Did we even have showers? I only owned one gym suit throughout high school and had to wash it twice weekly so it must have been made of iron.

Our competition schedule allowed all the teams to play but with the shortage of gym space we were watching and cheering on the sidelines as well. I don’t know how the guys at McKinley won their letters and sweaters but we had a point system and my dream was to walk away with all of the awards offered by my senior year. So I was lucky enough to earn 300 points for my "M" letter, 500 points for my pin, 700 points for my guard and pin and 1000 points for my cup. One trophy was awarded to the highest ranking senior at each end-of-year banquet and Ruth Schmitz won it for our class. Points could also be earned for dance activities. Mrs. Meltner put on some great dance productions to entertain the whole school. I danced in the Li’l Abner routine one year and in a Space one another year. We had stars like Ruth, Sandy Harber, Joyce Tomich and JoAnn Weaver to take the lead roles, but they still needed backup people like me.

The only sport we played in outside competition with an opposing school was field hockey and we had to have a crash course just to be considered for it. I must have shown a small talent as I was one of the lucky (or unlucky ones) to play Cleveland. It was a short-lived event.

While GAA was a wonderful organization, it did not offer the cutting edge that some of us still needed in our sports program. Since every girl could join GAA, many did, with or without athletic ability. It was the largest girls’ organization at the school so it became as much of a social group as the PEP Squad. The irony is that groups that started out strictly for social reasons outside our school became active in city sports. The three teams I recall were the Panthers, Skyhawks and later Pixies. There may have been more. I was a Skyhawk (complete with sports jacket) and we played teams from other areas at the Soulard Gym and around the city. One year I was proud when we won the "City Championship" in volleyball. I’m short at 5’ 3" but I was great at set-ups to our front line for spikes. Remember, that was back when three people could each have 2 taps at the ball. I also had a mean serve, having learned it in McKinley’s low-ceiling gyms.

When I left high school behind I tried my hand at sports in college but it wasn’t’ the same. I missed my old friends and the esprit de corps built through my four years at McKinley. It did build a foundation for me to play sports up through age 50. I even won another trophy in a new game I attempted called Racquetball. But that was before the knees, arthritis and breathing conditions developed to slow me down. They never told me that the stress joints I developed as a younger person would haunt me later in life. I was too busy diving for balls and blocking shots.

Pat Scott Adams, 1960
counseldove@msn.com