Club Store Coeds
The Club Store Coeds, an African-American women’s basketball team of the 1930s and 1940s. They began as an amateur team formed by promoter and coach Dick Hudson in November of 1934, featuring original members Ruth Reese, Sarah Reese, Kate Bard, veteran Virginia Willis (of Roamers and Olivet Cosmopolitans fame), and Olympic track star Tydie Pickett. Within a couple of weeks Hudson added to the lineup 6’ 7½’’ Helen Smith and a little short girl named Zadie Lloyd. The Club Store Coeds can be seen as a successor team to earlier Chicago teams such as the Roamer Girls, Olivet Baptist Church Cosmopolitans, and Savoy Colts.
The basis of this team came from the Pilgrim Baptist church team that won the Union Church League women's title the previous year. Hudson picked up the Reese sisters, Tydie Pickett, and Zadie Lloyd all from Pilgrim, and Kate Bard from the rival Grant Memorial church team. The Union Church League had terminated its women's program at the end of the 1933 season, the girls wanted to continue to play and Hudson gave them the opportunity.
During early 1935, the Club Store Coeds were beating everybody in sight—such as the Platt’s Girls, Auburn Five—and had became the preeminent African American female team in Chicago. Hudson continued to work at improving the lineup, bringing in veteran basketball player and tennis great Lula Porter and Gladys Morgan in February (Tydie Pickett and Virginia Willis appear to be gone by this time).
During late February the Coeds made a long tour westward, playing teams in Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota, and points further. Basketball historian Claude Johnson has asserted that the Club Store Coeds were the first female African American barnstorming team.
In mid March the Club Store Coeds were back in Chicago, and the Chicago Tribune reported that they were the "national colored girls' champion" (neat trick for not having ever gone East) and were seeking their 35th win for the season. The Coeds were suppose to meet leading amateur teams, notably the Spencer Coals and the Frain’s Usherettes (the 1935 Central AAU champions), but the results were not reported by the Chicago Defender or the Chicago Tribune. (they may not have met).
In April 1937, the Club Store Coeds toured the Pacific Northwest, building a tradition of traveling just about every year. On these barnstorming tours they picked up the name “Chocolate Coeds,” and the name became attached to them even more so than their original Club Store name.
The Club Store Coeds played into the late 1940s, and by this time no doubt professionals, and were the busiest and hardest working of any known team. For example, in 1949, the team played 89 games in 30 states, with 44 contests against women’s team and 45 contests against men’s teams. In games against men, the men played with restricted rules, such as attempting shots only beyond the foul line or being limited to one shot per possession. Sometime in 1950 the team disbanded, so ending the story of one of the most legendary women teams in basketball history.