The women’s basketball team at Wayland Baptist University in Plainview is known as the Flying Queens.
“The team started in the 1940’s,” says Jonathan Perry of Wayland. “The team was previously known as the Harvest Queens because the Harvest Queen Mill sponsored the team. Then local businessman Claude Hutcherson, who owned a flying service, decided to take over sponsorship of the team. He would fly the players in his personal airplane to their games all over the country and even into Mexico. In the 1950’s the Queens won 131 consecutive games, which is still a collegiate record. They have won more games throughout the course of their program than any women’s program in the nation. In 2017 the team won its 1600th game.”
The women’s basketball program at Wayland will be inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Massachusetts this coming September.
“We’re excited about that. The program has meant a lot to the school and to this community over the years and has done a lot for the game of basketball as a whole.”
Wayland has an active athletic program. It was the first college in Texas to offer intercollegiate wrestling for both men and women. The track team is always ranked among the best and has11 national titles. Sports teams at Wayland are called Pioneers.
“We changed to the Pioneers in the late 40’s. We had been known as the Jackrabbits. The college president at the time was doing a lot of pioneering things so it seemed natural to switch to Pioneers. We were bringing in International students. At one time we had a higher percentage of international students than any university in the nation. We still have our international vocal ensemble that performs all over the country. Every once in a while they’ll go overseas and sing in Russia or some place like that. In the beginning they wore costumes of their home countries.”
Wayland’s music department is a preferred destination for students seeking careers in opera. The school has the distinction of being the first of any university in the formerly Confederate South to voluntarily integrate. In 1951 a black student, Ann Taylor, was allowed to work on an advanced degree. The administration seemed opposed to the cultural norms of that time.
The Plainview campus has 1,100 students, but Wayland has 12 additional campuses all over the country, including Hawaii and Alaska.
“Most of that was developed through our relationship with the Air Force. A lot of those campuses are on military bases. It all started with the Air Force asking if Wayland could set up classes on bases. We’ve gone to other branches of the military now and we are on their bases as well. At one time of all the active military personnel who earned college degrees the majority got them from Wayland.”