American Institute of Commerce Stenos
The American Institute of Commerce Stenos of Davenport, Iowa, or AIC Stenos, was a women’s Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) team that competed nationally from the late 1930s to the early 1950s. The team was sponsored by the American Institute of Commerce of Davenport, Iowa. AIC was founded in the late 1930s by brothers Everett O. and Stephen Fenton. There was a sister school in Des Moines, American Institute of Business (AIB), which was founded in 1921 by Everett O. Fenton, and which also field a nationally prominent women’s basketball team called the Secretaries.
The AIC Stenos made its first impact in the National AAU tournament in 1941, when it took fourth place, losing the third-place game to its sister school AIB. The team earned one All American (all star) berth that year with Monica Ward.
The Stenos reached the apex of its success in 1942 and 1943 when it won consecutive national AAU titles. In 1942, AIC smashed the Hazel Walker-led Little Rock Motor Coaches in the title game, 42-25, with long-range shooting by Ruth Campbell and Margaret Macomber. This was the youngest AAU women's team to ever win a championship. Most of the team was still in high school or just out of high school, and average 17 1/2 years of age. Three AIC players made the All American team—Campbell, Macomber, and Viola Meyer The 1943 tournament final was an all-Iowa affair, with AIC beating AIB, 41-31. AIC garnered two All Americans that year--Helen Joura, who was also chosen as the Most Valuable Player, and Francis Stansberry.
No more national titles came AIC’s way, but the institution did take a second place in 1952, losing to the legendary Hanes Hosiery team. That year, the team had All Americans in 6 foot, 4 inch Norma Schoute (who was a senior in high school) and Betsy Clark. The AIC Stenos proved in dramatic fashion proved the greatness of Iowa women’s basketball by winning two national AAU titles in the early 1940s, and that is the lasting legacy of the team.