Photo Credit: 
Chronicle photos by Lisa Carroll

STERLING - At the start of the school year in 1941, Sterling began its first girls’ basketball team.

As the only senior at the time on the team and playing guard, Lou Ella Rother worked hard to make All-County. Marrying her husband Rex Revel in December of that year, Lou went on to become salutatorian of her graduating class in 1942 and received "the first-ever Sterling Tiger letterman jacket given to a female." According to Sterling Superintendent Secretary Ronita Bridges, it was after posting a picture on Facebook in honor of this year's first basketball game held Nov. 8, when Lou’s daughter, Joni Revel Johnson, reached out and shared a picture of her mom who was on the first Sterling girls basketball team. Ronita said she also shared a picture of Lou wearing the first letterman jacket a female received at Sterling.  "She told me that her mother would like for the school to have it," said Ronita. "I immediately said yes and asked her if she thought her mom, 97 years young, would feel like coming to a home basketball game and donating the jacket. I told her we had an old men’s uniform displayed in the gym lobby and that maybe we could do the same with her jacket." After checking the basketball schedule and formulating a plan, that's what they decided they wanted to do. But shortly after deciding on a date, Ronita explained that Lou fell and broke her hip.

"I was afraid our plans were not going to happen," said Ronita. "However, Lou is a tough cookie. She had surgery and was soon in Jim Thorpe rehab." With assistance from her family, Lou was able to make the trip from Oklahoma City to the Sterling basketball game on Tuesday, Dec. 10, to donate her 1942 letterman jacket.  "The stands were filled with an additional 40-plus family members who were here to help us honor such a special lady and event. It was a pretty special night," Ronita said. "Several of the girls on our current team were overcome with emotions and tears were flowing." Both the girls and boys Sterling basketball teams surrounded Lou after the presentation to take pictures with her at half court. "To be the first senior girls player and still have her letterman's jacket in such great shape is amazing," said Sterling basketball coach Darrell Stanley. Former Sterling High School Principal, Mr. Gene Cross, has volunteered to build a shadow box so the team can display the vintage jacket in the lobby.