Editor’s note: To celebrate Women’s History Month, the Transcript plans to run articles featuring successful women in the community.
Growing up in Putnum City, Jackie Krutsinger never expected her name would be associated with a part of history. She also never intended to be a trailblazer in the world of women’s basketball.
Krutsinger, who now lives in Norman, played on the All American Red Heads from 1955 to 1956. The professional team was comprised of all women and crisscrossed the United States playing basketball similar to that of the Harlem Globetrotters. The All American Red Heads were formed in 1936 by a Cassville, Mo., businessman, C.M. “Ole” Olson, who owned and operated several men’s barnstorming teams.
“He had seen some women playing basketball around Missouri and got the idea to start a women’s team,” Krutsinger said. “There were two teams. One on the eastern half of the United States, and one on the western half. The team I was on traveled the western half of the United States. It was a thrill for me to see the western half of the United States. People were so nice to us when we came to town. It was just a wonderful experience.”
Krutsinger began her basketball career in junior high and high school but it was after her freshman year of college at Central State College, now the University of Central Oklahoma, in 1956, that she signed on to play with the All American Red Heads.
“I knew about the Red Heads. One of the Red Head players came to the school, they needed another player,” Krutsinger said. “I loved playing basketball. I’d played basketball since junior high school. I’d pretty much worn out all the little boys in my neighborhood playing basketball.”
Being a member of the team meant that Krutsinger not only would have to leave her family, but also included a demanding schedule.