Siloam Springs native finalist for Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame

A Siloam Springs native who was a part of the women’s basketball team, The All American Redheads, is a finalist for the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame.

Willa Faye “Red” Mason, a point guard for the Redheads, was already inducted into the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame with other members of the Redheads in 2020, according to former Redhead Tammy Moore Harrison, the daughter of Orwell Moore, the owner of the Redheads.

Members of the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame can vote for Mason by going to the following link: https://tinyurl.com/ybt44su6, Harrison said in an email. Mason also said only members of the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame are eligible to vote for the winner.

The Redheads were also inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2012 in Springfield, Mass., According to an article in the Herald-Leader on Sept. 5, 2012.

According to a press release from the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame, the All American Redheads were inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in 2011. Mason also said the team was inducted into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame in 2017.

“It feels great,” Mason said of her nomination.

Time as a Redhead

Mason developed an interest in basketball in the seventh grade, she said. She played forward throughout her high school career at Siloam Springs High School, Mason said. After high school Mason joined the All American Redheads where she played from 1949 to 1956, she said.

The Redheads had three players from Siloam Springs, Mason said. The other two players were Johnnye Farley and Bonnie Buell. At the time, the Redheads only played half-court.

“We changed the rule from the half court to the full court in 1968,” Mason said. “They even changed the size of the basketball. They changed it by making it smaller.”

During the last two seasons of her time with the Redheads, Mason was a player / coach, she said. One of Mason’s favorite memories was when the team went to Alaska. The team played in Anchorage and Sitka, Alaska as well as the University of Fairbanks in Fairbanks, Alaska, Mason said.

“When we arrived in Anchorage, the people who booked us met us at our hotel and took us on a dog sled ride,” Mason said. “We saw the Northern Lights. It was pretty exciting.”

The Redheads normally played men, which consisted of Rotarians, members of the VFW and even military teams, Mason said.

Life after the Redheads

After the 1956 season, Mason said she wanted to come home. Mason went back to school at Northeastern State University in Tahlequah, Okla, to become a physical education teacher. She taught for a few years in Tulsa and then went to teach at Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kan., Mason said.

Then in 1962, Mason came back to her alma mater to teach physical education, she said.

“I was interested in coming back to Northeastern,” Mason said. “My family was here … and I thought it was time to get closer.”

Mason taught at the college for 30 years, she said. Mason said she had lost her mother by the time she retired but had a brother and sister here. Mason was inducted into the Northeastern State University’s Athletics Hall of Fame in 1990, she said.

When asked what advice Mason had for young women who have an interest in basketball she said they have to love the games and practice all the basic skills like passing and shooting. Mason also recommended watching the WNBA.

“Any time I could, I studied Bob Cousy from the Boston Celtics,” Mason said. “He was a point guard so I studied him.”

Of course the best thing anyone can do is to play the game, Mason said.

Looking back, Mason said she has been very blessed. Mason is appreciative to the Redheads because of the role they played in her life as well as her students that she taught throughout her life, she said.

“I’ve had wonderful health,” Mason said. “I’ve had opportunities that I never dreamed I would have. I am one of those who believes that the Lord has had a strong hand in it.”

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