It’s hard to believe, but it’s been twenty years since Iowa had its final girls six player basketball game.
“You had aunts, mothers, and grandmothers that all played the same game,” recalled Lisa Brinkmeyer, “there was a definite link to each other through the history of the game.”
Former official Duane Nevenhoven misses the atmosphere, “The thing that I miss the most was that the auditorium which we called the barn was filled.”
For some it feels like yesterday, for others it’s a distant memory. One thing is for sure, even 20 years after the fact, the 6-aside game is still a hot topic at the girls state tournament.
“It was a unique game. It was unique to the state of Iowa; Iowa had a great format,” said former coach, Marlowe Vanginkel.
In 1993 the Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union voted to do away with the 6-player game, a decision that wasn’t universally popular, “I was against it, totally against it. Even today I say the schools should change,” said Nevenhoven.
Vanginkel thinks it impacted the game for girls, “The excitement of the offense was gone when we made the transition so it took a while for Iowa girls basketball to make the switch and feel comfortable.”
Although Brinkmeyer is philosophical, “When I look back on the game, I don`t think I wish it was still here. I think how fortunate I was to be a part of it.”
In the final season, Lisa Brinkmeyer led Hubbard Ratcliffe to what would be the final girls 6-player state title, “We knew how important it was to win for our communities, that much we understood, but really we were playing for our entire state and everybody who played before us. They came out of the woodwork to watch that final game. Truly, I don’t think we understood how important is was for everyone there.”
20 years later the game looks different but making it to state still feels the same, “It`s the tournament where everyone cries… And that`s what sticks out whether it`s 5 on 5 or the 6-man game.”
6-on-6 is a part of Iowa basketball history and unlike the game, that can`t be taken away.