Vallie Moorefield was born in Stokes County in 1922 and recently celebrated her 96th birthday. She still wears her 1939 class ring and has her driving license, while living life to the fullest. Nannie, as most people call her, sat and talked about times gone by at the old Pinnacle High School and what it was like to be a woman athlete in the 1930s.
“You had to be a little mean,” she said with a smile. “You had to worry about yourself because nobody else would. You won at all cost back in those days. Our teams were tight and we all got along with one another.”
Moorefield graduated from Pinnacle in 1939 when there were only 11 grades to complete. A year later, the school system changed it to 12. She participated in track and field and competed in the pole vault event. She also played guard on the varsity basketball team for three years, but never scored a basket.
Women’s basketball was played with six players at the time with three guards and three forwards. The forwards were the only ones allowed to shoot the ball and were required to stay in the team’s frontcourt, while the guards were in the backcourt on defense. You could dribble the ball up to two times and at that point the player must shoot or pass to a teammate. This style of basketball for women was phased out for most states in the late 70s, but Iowa and Oklahoma played it until 1995.
Moorefield recalled playing Pilot Mountain High her senior year.
“I remember one game my coach called me into his office during school and said we had to win this game against Pilot regardless of the cost. The game was close and it was coming down to the last shot. They had a player named Lynch that couldn’t miss. She was good and fast as a jackrabbit. She had the ball and I stuck my foot out and tripped her. We got the ball back and won the game. It sounds bad, but that was the way you played back then. It was always a very physical game.”
Moorefield said life was hard growing up. Like others in the area, she walked almost three miles to school each day and only received one pair of shoes each year. But today, she chooses to focus on the fond memories.
A teacher, Verna Denny, became a positive influence in her life and taught eight different grades during her days at the Pinnacle school.
“We lived a hard life back in those days,” she said. “It’s like night and day now. I’m not sure kids today would survive. It was simple, but yet difficult. I sit and think about those times often and am reminded of how good God is.”
Robert Money can be reached at 336-749-1193.