This is an interview with all three Lorenzen Women: Lynne Lorezen, Jill Lorenzen, Lori Lorenzen. All played 6 on 6 basketball. Their mother is one of Billerbeck twins, Frances (Billerbeck) Lorenzen. Lynne Lorenzen was a star forward in the mid-1980s and the all-time leading scorer for girls’ basketball nationwide. She scored 6,736 points during her Ventura High School career.
Q: Who were some of the people who contributed the most to it success of six on six?
A: Jim Zabel was at a lot of the games and so forth. He's really an icon in broadcasting. I remember Frosty Mitchell was at the Girls Union when we played.
Well, there was KGRN, there was WMT, when you look at all the banners around of all the different radio stations broadcasting the games.
And in the behind the scenes the organization, you always knew about the men in the coats. But yet they set the atmosphere. Do you see what I mean? They were really the ones that were behind the scenes that allowed the show, and so it was the men in the coats, and I know E. Wayne was down there.
Q: Who shaped it?
A: Perennial? Perennial, coaches, families, heritage. You read some of the stories in the book.
Q: How has it been passed on and on.
A: Jack Norris.
Jack Norris exactly.
A: Yeah and you know what, you should, we should like mom has mentioned some of the media. Really, I mean, it's the, if it's not covered and people see it, what I mean, it, it was as much as a part of them as well, it went from just like one it was the entire package.
Q: Was it difficult making the transition to five on five? Hard to get used to the lower scoring?
A: I remember one game I think it was Kansas State. Doesn't matter where but I had like four field goal attempts, four field goals made, three free throws attempts. What happened was if I'd missed I just didn’t think I was doing well. because we were used to, I mean, six on six, I mean, it wasn't dribble, dribble, it was a passing game, and it was fast like Lori said it is fast, and shooting and the accuracy of shooting percent is 86% that your thing, I mean if you are less than 50% in five on five you’re good. You know what I mean, you're doing fine if your 50/55 and for me that seemed like a failure in sense. Oh my gosh, I'm missing. It, that's what I had trouble adjusting to was, was that it just, it just didn't have that accuracy.
A: And I mean I was the one that didn't have the accuracy obviously but I did, , but it wasn't, I couldn't get a grip on that level what was good or what, what would have been good. I never had an opportunity to really define that to myself.
A: I think physically we were fit. I mean, that, wasn't an adjustment to go to five on five, but I remember one game in college I scored eight, I was a guard in high school, and I scored eight points in college and I was so excited I looking up at my parents, gave a big smile like, LOOK!
A: No, I don't, there wasn't a whole lot of difference as far as physically. Do you think? Cause you played-
A: But you did
A: Yeah, there's more stamina. And the ball changed too. We had a big ball. We had the big heavy ball and then in five on five you had that smaller ball.
Q: What did you think when six on six was going to come to an end?
A: It was just at that time Oklahoma and the State of Iowa were the only two wasn't it?
A: And you knew it was inevitable that it was going to come, and then that's when the large schools got involved. Like the super large schools weren't involved and then of course when it went to five on five in the long run it probably was better because everybody was involved all the schools.
A: And they did somewhat gradual. Because there was still a six on six champion and the five on five champion so…
A: But, the thing is we forget is, I, I like to be unique and different.
A: It was something different that's right.
A: And, and people would say, you scored how many points? And I'll say I played six on six, they're like what's that? I'm like half-court ball, two dribbles, lot of passing, and they were like what? So, it really a force conversation about six on six. So, yeah, because it's boring to a lot of people outside of Iowa, and hopefully not boring to a lot of people in Iowa.
Q: How does it feel to your family that you represent the long term family tradition? You are part of that unique part in the state's history?
A: I'm proud, yeah, and I'm not, not saying proud of myself but I'm proud to be part of it. I, I'm thankful too.
A: Great memories.
A: Oh yeah we still talk about it all.
A: We warm it up.
Q: Do you find yourselves reminiscing?
A: Oh, oh yeah.
A: Oh we got all the pictures last night, let me tell you! We've been through the book. Yeah, and we did.
A: Oh I never let her shoot.
A: Oh, yeah, Dad told me I came in and told everyone, their blocking my shot and then I'd cry and he'd say hey well, are you staying here? Go back out! And I go back out and I came back in “someone else” blocked my shot.
A: That was family yeah, and I mean, if you don't mind I can tell you.
A: In the barn you have all these cross beam. You had that one on the side and if you were gonna do a side shot you had to go up and over and, the three point shot, you had to go up arch over the beam. Yeah, and this ball fell down the pigs were below and someone would flip it back up or go down and wash it all off and I recall vacuuming the barn. Because of the dust from the pigs. I took water up there and sprayed it. Well water and dust make mud? But do you see where we were just steps away. And there were gyms everywhere.
A: There's even there's big, big, big places out there that you have to drive to, and I recall being at Iowa State at a camp and someone says oh yeah, you're that girl that plays in the barn. I was, like, I had no idea that was unique and different. I mean, its like, yeah, you're that girl that plays in the barn.
Q: Describe the rules of the game if you've never heard of six player- describe it for me how does it work?
A: Half-court - 3 guards, 3 forwards, on the other side, 2 dribbles, but it was a passing game, and in the, the key thing was that you pass it was fast, couldn't cross half court.
A: And the referees if you scored tossed it up to the middle and you'd start in the center circle.
A: And off you'd go on the other end.
Q: Tell me a little bit about the Lorenzen history.
A: Well, I'll start because I am the youngest and so I probably went through it. but Mom won state with her twin sister in 1952 and as we were growing up basketball's part of Iowa history and heritage and so my sister Laurie played and their team went to state. I was in second grade at that time, and got a chance to go to Vets and just get that whole atmosphere. And our family re-located from _____ up to Ventura, and so moved up here which is a century farm, and Laurie needed to switch from being a guard because six on six guard court/ forward court and so she practiced. And of course where do you practice when you're a farm girl at that time we practiced out in the barn. And, Laurie, I re-bounded for Laurie and we just kept going from there, and Jill and I set some goals and we wanted to follow in the footsteps of Mom and Laurie and make it to state, and then the rest is history. There we go.
Q: Tell me about the scrapbooks
A: Well, I mean, if you, if you actually look, have a chance to look through this, I mean, and the pages are yellowing but you can just tell by looking at the faces, the memories, back in the back are the corsages and the letters that people wrote. ‘Cause it, it was, it was a big deal. I mean, and I mean where do you see your mom in the newspaper? What I mean, and grandma and grandpa?
A: We aspired to be a girl basketball player. We all did.
A: Following in Mom's footsteps.
A: And it was fun.
A: It was fun.
Q: And each of you did make it to state. Each of the gals did get to play at state.
A: At the big barn and that's I always remember even if you weren't there you were, you were, watching it on TV. Everybody sat down that was a big night to watch the, the finals on TV.
Q: When did the two of you play and for what school (twin sister)
A: Actually we played at the town of Byron? Near Waterloo and we started in our sophomore year with a coach. Before that we just practiced on our own and our coach during our senior year of course we me made it to state tournament. Our suits at that time were midriff suits. Little short skirts, midriff, and the little short top. We were the, we played with a white basketball in '52 is when they went at the end of the season they had gone then to the brown leather type basketball. we played at Drake University.
A: Four years later I think it was Goldfield then played in the big barn. So, we had on the way home what we remember actually during the season we lost two games to the Ventura- to Union-Winton and then we lost to Monona? who had the six foot four girl and we avenged the losses of course one was in the finals so the state championship with Monona so it was pretty special, and on the way home we stopped at the small towns and people would great us and it was well, it's just Iowa Basketball. Yeah.
Q: Tell me about that game against Monona and that night and what it was like winning.
Tell me about that night and what it was like winning.
A: Actually the first half we just had one on one guarding and then the second half Norma was getting quite a few points and so forth. The second half then our coach put a gal behind her and Francine my twin sister in front. So, I think she was probably limited to, I don't wanta say how many points, but it wasn't that many. So-
A: The secret of the success.
Q: What was it like getting to play with your sister?
A: Well, we practiced together, we actually we, I don't know, she just, we always went everywhere together. Played basketball a lot. Practiced together. Yeah.
Q: How some of the differences when you played ball in the early 1950's- tell me about the game at that time. What did it look like in comparison to when your girls played.
A: Well of course we played the six on six ah, but we had what it was then for, for our little small town of Reinbeck bec- the, the town just backs us, the girls. The town became, they were at all the games, they followed us, I think as compared to now with the five on five, I think back then it was more accurate. The shooting was more accurate, the free throw shooting was more accurate, it was a lot of snap passing and so forth. We did the two dribbles and so forth.
Q: Wasn't your lane smaller though? The ladies?
A: The lane was smaller yeah.
Q: Did you have one or two dribbles?
A: We had two dribbles.
A: And no three point shot.
Q: Why do you think six on six was so unique and so special especially to rural communities?
A: The rural communities were small. You could easily play six on six. Don't ya think?
A: It was just a wonderful type of ball to play. It was fast. lot of passing, fast. It was, it was just great game to watch.
A: It was a great game to play.
A: Don't you think?
A: Yeah, I, I, I agree. the thing that's with it is, there's all types of athletes and I think six on six affords a finesse, it affords, and I'm not gonna say that there's not a grace to all basketball because it's a wonderful sport, but you have a chance to-
A: Well, of course you had a chance to really excel in one specific area. I happened to excel in points.
A: But that wasn't the focus but and the thing is with it is, it was different. And different is good. And we, we were the Iowa Girl and when we talk about this, we're talking about the girls state tournament, and when we're talking it's not even-
At first it was like let's just make to the girls state tournament. That was the goal and then after we made it we're like woooo, we needed to set another goal. We need to win State. Just that's the whole point. It was, it wasn't to be the winner, it wasn't to be the champion, it was the ambiance and atmosphere of Iowa Girls Basketball. I mean, mom says the big barn, I mean really, if you talk about the big barn and hopefully Vet's is still down there. headed south look left there's the big barn.
A: That was, that's the symbol of across the country now or across Iowa. Is it still there? Not as much, our barn's been torn down. but that's what it was is, what, when you talk about a farm girl and you talk about- that's what it was, it was, it was just what it was to be an Iowa Girls Basketball player. ?
Q: Why was it to be a basketball player at that time that was so important?
A: it was just I, as you mentioned. It was just a one sport. There was no track. There was not softball or anything. So, we just concentrated on basketball, and of course, I played in the barn too. Our, on our farm, and our my brother played against us, we, we- mother would call, I remember she would call supper and we would still be out in the barn practicing and so forth, and you set goals you set goals, and small town Iowa with your goal is to get to the state championship.
Q: Sweet sixteen wasn't it?
A: Sweet Sixteen yeah, all of that.
A: And it was all one. I don't know what they're doing today, but it was like. 615 people at the time, in town of Ventura and we went up against South East Polk. and that was a Des Moines city, and then they did the stories of the David and Goliath and the, the Cinderella stories, and, and another thing is looking at that the era of when Jill and I growing up. it was eighty four through eighty-seven pretty much, and country was on as far as the movie, and there was a lot going on with farming here and, and depression with, with the money and the economy falling out and that movie country, it was like that was so close to home we didn't even want to sit through it with Jessica Lang, and then later it became Hoosiers. and out came that story of the basketball. They were telling our story, but there story was set back in the fifties and, and before, and we were living it as young women in the late eighties. ?
Q: Farm crisis. What do you think was good for your family as a farm family for the community of Ventura during that horrible time.
A: This community turned out, and that's the thing schools are consolidating and it's getting to be larger schools and there's larger farms these were small farming, and it was hard, it was hard, and dad has always said his six children are his greatest crop. so, it was, it's family gathering around family and you saw that in the gym. They would come and Friday night, Tuesday night, that's where everyone came to the game. there was something to do and you know you could leave your worries and troubles behind at the door. The gym was packed, it really was. It was fun, fun, fun, it was, it was fun.
A: Community. Middle of winter everybody went.
A: That’s why I was, ha, sometimes they would come by make sure that you get to the game.
A: Yep, that part's true.
A: They came to get Laurie on the snowmobile and we stayed here and listened to it on the radio.
- That game in Mason City.
Q: What was the state tournament like as an Iowa Girl as an Iowa Farm Girl.
A: Amazing. It was just everything we dreamed for and it came true and it was so special to play there with you. I mean, we talked about sisters playing together and we got there and remember as we were walking out to the courts for the very first time.
A: It was fun. It was so big, it was huge.
A: And I mean, let's add to when you'd go outside the hotel room and look up at the skyscrapers. How many times had we even been to Des Moines?
A: It was, it was in the eighties and we hadn't even made it to see the skyscrapers and we rode the escalators.
A: It was it's the whole thing, and then when you go to Vet's and, and the pageantry and, and the show, and everything that centers around, and we had, I remember seeing the, I don't know what they called it, the flags, where all the flags would come in and
A: The parade of flags.
A: Is that what it was?
A: And the, yeah, they represented all the state.
A: That was always great.
A: Do you remember the team breakfast, our first team breakfast?
A: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.
A: You'd sit up and, and yep it was in there and you'd sing your schools song.
A: I remember mom said when you get on court looking up at the rafters. Look up at, look up at the top. Of the, of Vets. Maybe it was to take a deep breath and go for your dream.
A: To see all the fans that were there and everything. Take it in.
A: Yep, yep, ya well the, let's add add that one back to that they had to remind us that, it still the same distance up to the hoop, what I mean? Because there was…
A: It was big. It really was big, and Jill says it's amazing and then when you're talking we're talking girls basketball we're talking about championships, but we're also talking about all this that centered around girls basketball and then in reading in Jan's book here she she talks about how E. Wayne Cooley mentioned the, the parade of champion, where that venue of people were all coming to girls basketball in all the Iowa Girls. To support the track and the volleyball and the softball and have them out on the floor and show these are the Iowa Girls. This is what a tribute, what a tribute.
A: So, it wasn't, even though there's the game and the championship that's basketball. It was the ambience of basketball. What, that whole it's electric, isn't, I mean, you could, I can feel it the goose bump.
A: And what a wonderful thing to pass on to your children. You see my nieces and nephews here and I have two daughters and it's like they talked about Title Nine. I recall and I don't know I was a Junior maybe, in High School, and I looked at mom and I was like Title 9, what's that? And they were like an equality of women, and I'm like, I never knew there was an equality of women. Women were lifted up, young girls were lifted up, and, and we were lifted up in, in a way it wasn't an expectation. We were lifted up to be role models for future young women. We, strong women, -
A: Very True.
A: And we want that for our daughters. That's something, if you don't experience in your own state that's something that we as, I mean, I'm in Oregon now, and you talk to my family and it continues to extend out to our daughters.
Q: Another part we should talk about is after the game.
A: Talk about state and when Ventura was there, Southeast Polk,
Q: I guess one thing I really like when Chuck Offenburg something he mentioned was that he described you in the ladder part of the second half really dominating the court, and said he thought you had played better there than any other person in that auditorium. Even Larry Bird, he said. Describe that game and when you went out on the floor.
A: It is a story, start for a minute, and just when you think that we just wanted to go state together. We just wanted to have that experience of going to state together. So, that meant as an eighth grader I needed to step it up because I needed to start or as freshman and so, but so the story is in-between there there's a record and there's a lot of media and there's a lot of information, but the thing is we, we were at the pinnacle of exactly what the goal was. When you're talking about that second half that was exactly what every shot prior to was set up for. That was good, that's what we practiced for, that was it, and yeah, everyone was there. Except for grandma, but
Q: This been a family thing?
A: Yeah, we did, it, it was such a high it, it was such a high of we had…reached the mountain top.
A: With the trophy and the flowers. Remember those roses, it was us, we were sitting there, and I mean,
maybe we were in a zone, but
A: That was it, that was it. It was a pinnacle, and what's amazing is a college ball was really coming on. I mean, I was being recruited by everyone, but I wanta win state, Iowa Girls Basketball. I mean, that was the goal. I, I never had a goal to play college ball. I mean, when I was growing up it wasn't go play college. It was to win Iowa Girls State Basketball. So, that it really shows, I mean-
A: Look how many p-people that serves. I mean, we had twenty-six people part of the team, and then in the band and ____, I mean, that's, that's a crucial time in young ladies life. This is high school and they're part of something and they're part of bigger product it's not to go to college. That __________, it was high school basketball, but it was it was it. it- awesome stuff. .
A: Awesome. Awesome for young ladies.
A: We were lucky, we were really lucky. .
A: But you forget Lynne, the process of which you went through truly prepared girls for college.
L: Sure. Oh sure. Life? It did serve more than just to get to state. It served for college and life.
L: But that, goal of how allowed you to, yeah, oh yeah. The whole story is what, what you experience going through it. Yeah, it was the whole process. it, the, when it was all said and done the championship wasn't what you remember. It is all, all you did to prepare for the championship. what I mean? That was what it was. It was your growth as young lady. Really, yeah.
Q: How do you think being a six on six player and being part of the team especially girls athletics in Iowa really influenced the woman you are today?
A: Wow. trials and tribulations, wins and losses, I mean, it prepares you to be a stronger individual. A stronger young woman as you go through life truly.
A: Yes, I think you learn with the loosing. You learn to prepare yourself. You learn and with the winning you learn to- and you learn to control your emotions too in the end.
A: For me it's, it's more than more than basketball at that point because it's, you take back to the farm family or you take it back to the farm girl, all of that led into girls basketball as well, and so we got a chance to showcase who we were because I mean we worked hard physically, what I mean? It, it, its a farm family. You’re out in the beans; you're detasseling corn, other families bailing hay if that was their livestock, and the sort of thing. So, it begins to showcase your strength. Strength in just human being, and then to add what E. Wayne Cooley added was lifting the woman in you up an, and treating you, I don't want to say like royalty, but really, he really gave us the other side of the farm. what I mean? He really, really gave us an opportunity to experience life in a different demeanor because you stepped out the door, you put your boots on, or and so, that's what girls basketball, it culminated. It gave you chance to showcase you as, as a young farm girl. And I mean, don't get me wrong, but that's the thing for me. I can speak for me being a farm girl.
A: I think for me it gave confidence. I was very, very shy. Right?
And I gained the confidence playing with the team and knowing I can help and get to be a part of something and to go somewhere. I think that helped me in the long run in my life.
Q: The nation looks to Iowa as girl’s basketball leader. Why do you think that is? Why do you think that happened here?
A: There you go. I mean, that's, that's the whole story right there because why did they look to Iowa? other states were doing other things and yet we were packing them in, weren't we? it's just like because it was the story, it was real, it was, it was hard work, and it was family, community, I mean, it was, it's the good stuff.
A: It's the heart of America.
L: Really, I mean really, it, it is. I mean, and it sound s kind of cliché' but it really was that. It was family and if family meant community or family meant friends or family honestly meant family that's what it was. Really.
A: Well, I agree.
A: Difference with the boys, they talk about boys, men and women.
A: I didn't know there was so difference between the boys and the girls. We were put right up there. If not higher in some respects - with the pageantry and the well, the midriffs.
A: And I don't know, I mean, honestly its, maybe there is no proper way to say it but they talk about the Iowa Girls. The Iowa Girls were real.
Q: (Addressing Lynn and her career.) Tell me about your journey and then to the night to where you broke the scoring record.
Well, it started way back when practicing ____ in the barn really, honestly because she get the paint out, she painted the floor. Dad cut the cable, I mean, she made me switch from a guard to a forward. Of course that took a lot of shooting and then but the thing is with it is it does start because that's where you learn to whistle. at the games or gotta run around Vets and then in that time you could run everywhere, every as a young girl. You could go to the top of Vets. You could look at the trophy room, parents weren't having to watch their children.
So, we got to go and really experience, and then it started with basketball camp and playing and that sort of thing, and then have a great opportunity to work on under Coach Jean Kling, and one time he finally was just like Lynne, just shut the lights off in the gym. He really, he really just afforded me a chance to really bloom, and he started with me and the post moves. So, he taught me some specifics.
I have to give a lot of credit to Coach Breadlow, Chuck Breadlow was our coach, and talk about power positive thinking, he, he taught us to believe in us, and the key thing is and Mom's got it over here somewhere. It, it doesn't matter if you are the best it matters if you do your best, and so coach would always say to us, as long as you can look in the mirror and know that you gave it your best, it's not the end of the game. Then that's all you could ask. As long as you know you did your best.
Now guess who is the keeper of that key, you could determine did do my best? So, as you continue to do your best, give your best, well look what started to happen for me. It got bigger and bigger and bigger and then there were times. I remember my sophomore year the first year we wanted to make it to state. I remember we fouled up. We wanted a win that day. But we didn't we didn't make it through the first, first game and then the second year we had lost to Maxford, and it was 79-77 and I scored 75. So, then we were really trying to push for, we were trying push for -
That's not gonna work and so fortunately with the team and everybody practicing, I mean, we worked all through the year. That's what we'd do. We'd all get together and play hoops. We'd go sit and play at the school at, outside, and and that was the goal going to state, and we didn't make it our Junior year.
We had some unfortunate circumstances that happened the night before, with one of the members of our community and then but we close, and it was an excellent team, and it actually worked out when we didn't make it state my junior year because the determination, we definitely made the team, and then I just think I mean, that, that was Cinderella story that was, that was the whole book, storybook year.
And then within there, there was a record with Denise Long, and they had talked about this might come when I was a freshman, I scored over a 1000 points as a freshman. So then they were like whoa, maybe, as that wasn't why I played basketball, and in playing and being your best and doing your best those records come, in fall, it's, if you- on their own. That, that's not what defines me. But the goal was to win state and we did it.
Q: What were your feelings that night going on the floor knowing Denise Long was in the crowd
Well, I mean, even a little prior to that, I had heard Ventura was going to change the venue. They were gonna change the game to Mason City because they wanted to prepare for the crowd. Well, that meant that we'd already played our last home game in Ventura, it was like-
So, prior to that then I scored the last point. So, that we could, winning maybe an option of, but the previous year I had scored a hundred points and I only needed ninety-three so then Ventura turned into, and I don't know who was all there, but there were a lot of media cameras. That’s when really, I don't want to call it a circus, because that's not an appropriate word but that's when things really, that's when media and ESPN and National and that's when that took a lot - That was really big.
A: Yes. Well, the family was, Lori flew in to probably the sophomore year with Lynne before the championship. Oh, when Lynne broke the record. Yeah, yeah, family was there.
A: Family came into the state but-
A: Or Laurie didn't, but Laurie got to watch it in Arizona.
A: Via Satellite.
A: So, yeah, so they, they had it piped in to Arizona. So, they got to watch it down there. Yeah, yeah.
A: So, but that really, I mean, we're looking here, it's, it's about, it's about the girls state tournament. what I mean?
A: Really, it, it it's about bringing it all together.
A: Well, and with records it seems like records probably were made to broken and if the record is broken that means the game gets better and the fans enjoy everything more.
Q: Why do you all like playing the six player game.
Laurie: I guess that was the game to be played. I mean, that was what it was at that time and it was a fast game. I enjoyed playing guard when I played my first two years as guard. that was a great aspect of the game, and then to turn over and, and do forward my last two years. was a whole other challenge and I, I did ok. Made a few points.
A: Well, but went up to Niacc
A: That's right we all did.
Lynne: and I did, I mean, I went to Iowa State but again, it's, it's the story around six on six. You see what I mean, it, we talk about the game and being an athlete, but it, it's was wonderful because it was different and unique and, and it lifted young women up, and so for me, did we get the team going in Iowa State, that was childhood memories of growing up together. what I mean? That's, that was the culmination of girls basketball. I mean, we, we did all together as we were young. It wasn't just a sport, it was a story. You see what I mean? It, and I'm not gonna say justice for in a derogative, but there were many sports and then there’s a game.
A: E. Wayne Cooley had a lot to do with, with elevating the whole Iowa Girl.
A: I don't think though E. Wayne had any other option. I mean, we never even thought difference in playing. That's what we did, we played.
Lynne: I mean if you didn't play, I recall on year Ventura, we were gonna loose softball. We went and just said come on a team, I mean we knew if started losing and people weren't coming to participate we'd lose the sport. So, we just grabbed anybody to come on before the, you see what I mean, I mean, you wanted people to be involved in the community. You wanted the people around involving the high school, and we didn't have a lot of distractions. A lot of outside things, and so you were part of school activities.
A: You did everything.