Members of the 1974 Melrose girls basketball team present $1,000 to support the current team. (Photo: Tyrone P. Easley)

The Memphis City Schools introduced girls’ basketball into the TSSAA school athletic program in 1974. On Jan. 7 (46 years later), Melrose High School’s first girls’ basketball team returned for a well-deserved salute.

Members present for the honors were Lois Smith-Jones, Wayetta Strong-Beard, Julia Forman-Stewart, Carolyn Taylor, Rachel Palmer, Dorothy Forman-Malone and Jilda Blackmon.

On January 31, members of that first team made a return engagement to contribute to the current girls’ basketball team.

Then and Now: The Melrose girls basketball team of 1974. (Courtesy photos)

“In 1974-75, we did not have to buy any supplies; everything was paid for by the school, including socks, shoes, headbands, wrist bands and even our physicals,” said Lois Smith-Jones. “Today, it is the girls’ responsibility to purchase many of their own items.”

So, the first girls alumni team came together to help support Coach Ciara Johnson, Coach Quartros Rhodes and the Lady Golden Wildcats with some of their team’s needs.

“This is what it’s all about,” said Smith-Jones, “giving back and blessing somebody else.”