You've heard of
the movie Glory Road, right? The inspirational story of the 1966 Texas Western
basketball team that won the NCAA title with an unheard-of five black
Well, this is the
flip side of that story. I was tipped off about it by A Million Little Pieces
author James Frey. It's the Wyoming State University basketball team--the only
NCAA Division I school in the country right now starting five white
honest, it's been hell," says WSU's courageous black coach, Marlin
Streeter, 43. "Some people just aren't ready to see five white guys out
there. It triggers something deep inside them."
located in Casper, is 17-5 overall yet has not cracked the Top 25. They've been
heckled, mocked and ridiculed everywhere they've played. They've heard,
"Crackers!" and "Damn! Where's my sunglasses?" One sign read
ALL WHITE? THAT AIN'T RIGHT!
"I was out
there for the opening tip at Fresno State," says starting Ghosts center
Chip Lovington III, "and the ref goes, 'Son, five white guys isn't a
basketball team, it's an insurance firm.' It gets old."
It's not like
Streeter set out to thumb his nose at the you-need-blacks-to-win culture of
college basketball. His team's makeup was born of desperation.
State hasn't had a winning season in 14 years, and because Casper's black
population can be counted on Bart Simpson's fingers, good black players weren't
exactly wearing out Streeter's cell number. And then one day, while speaking at
the Bemidji ( Minn.) Elks Lodge, he looked out the window and noticed a 5'9"
white kid named Schuyler Olson making 20-footers like they were layups.
It took some
sweet-talking to get him to come to Casper. Olson's father, Prescott, is the
regional sales director for Wonder bread, and Schuyler had his future already
mapped out. But when Streeter finally got him to sign with the Ghosts, the
coach realized he might be on to something.
scouring the country for talented whites--at country clubs, squash courts and
Volvo dealerships. He found power forward Chad Melman Jr. at his wife's book
club. He persuaded point guard Cheddar Smithson to give up his beloved
horseback riding and join the team. The white flight to Casper was on. And did
it go over well with the team's previously all-black roster?
no!" says backup forward Tayron Wilson. "We were like, 'You're bringing
in all white guys? On purpose?' I kept looking for that Punk'd dude to show