“Once an Iowa girl, always an Iowa girl.” These words rang true for Wanda Dunsbergen of Lynnville who was a guest of honor at Wells Fargo Arena on Saturday, Mar. 2, during the special celebration of the Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union’s (IGHSAU) 100th anniversary of the girls state basketball tournament.
Dunsbergen was one of 75 women honored during a special halftime ceremony of the 4A championship game. The “Iowa Girl” celebration recognized former student-athletes and trailblazers of the game who were part of the IGHSAU’s earliest days of an organization. Twenty-eight women were in attendance and honored, and a special video board segment celebrated those who were unable to be there.
After the introduction of each honoree, which included an appearance on the big screen, Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds visited with the ladies and talked about her six-on-six playing days with Dunsbergen.
Dunsbergen was nominated by Michelle Van Zante, who is married to Dunsbergen’s grandson, Jason. Van Zante nominated the 93-year-old after learning about the IGHSAU’s online campaign to find the “Oldest Known Living Iowa Girl” that launched in December. Dunsbergen was a member of the Lynnville basketball team that made it to the state tournament held at Drake Fieldhouse in 1939.
“Memories of 1939 and 1940 Lynnville basketball girls at the state tournament were great,” Dunsbergen recalled. “Those years, we had two six-foot girls, and they were Alice Terpstra (guard) and Ruth Petersma (forward). I got to go (to state) but was not on the first team.”
Dunsbergen enjoyed returning to the state basketball tournament, now held at Wells Fargo Arena, on Saturday. She, the other honorees, and their family members were given VIP passes to sit at court level. The Iowa Girls were each given a corsage, a bracelet with an IGHSAU charm, and a recent publication the IGHSAU put out of all teams that played throughout the years.
Dunsbergen had a pleasant talk with Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds, who used to play basketball and really liked the six-on-six game.
To top off the experience, the Class 4A championship game ended up being a one-point win by North Scott over Marion, so the Iowa Girls had a good game to watch.
“I had a most enjoyable time at the girls state basketball tournament,” Dunsbergen said.
Another former basketball player from the area was among the 75 recognized by the IGHSAU on Saturday. June (Hasley) Williams, 94, of New Sharon was on a state tournament team from Searsboro in the 1930s as well. She was ill and very disappointed she couldn’t attend on Saturday. Her parents were Charlie and Margueritte Hasley.