By CFISD Communications Department
CYPRESS — The Women’s Professional Basketball League (WBL) only lasted three years, but as the first league, it helped open the doors for others, including the 22-year-old Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA), and left a lasting legacy that reaches all across the country.
That reach includes Cypress-Fairbanks ISD and its athletics office. And now even has an enshrined home.
Associate Athletic Director Sharon Farrah was a WBL first-round pick in 1979 following her playing days at the University of Missouri and played in the league’s final two seasons.
The entire league – the first professional women’s basketball league in the United States – was inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame as the ninth team or organization to be recognized as “Trailblazers of the Game.” The induction ceremony was held June 9 at the hall’s home in Knoxville, Tenn. In addition to the WBL going into the hall of fame, the Class of 2018 included Tina Thompson, a two-time Olympian who led the Houston Comets to four consecutive WNBA titles, and Katie Smith, the sport’s all-time leading scorer in the United States.
Farrah was among three former University of Missouri standouts to play in the WBL and be recognized by the hall of fame. She’s fourth all time in program scoring history, paving the way to play professionally. In 2000, Farrah was inducted into the University of Missouri Intercollegiate Athletics Hall of Fame.
“I was exceedingly honored and grateful to be a part of a group that included all players who played in the WBL, the precursor to the WNBA,” Farrah said. “This group of distinguished athletes paved the way for those who came after us and I believe we were a huge asset to the development of women’s basketball and women’s athletics in general.”
Following her collegiate career with the Tigers, Farrah was selected by the New York Stars in the first round of the WBL draft leading into the 1979-1980 season. The league began the year before with eight teams, with the Houston Angels winning the inaugural championship.
It grew to 14 teams in the second season at its peak, and Farrah helped the Stars win the title. The team folded due to financial reasons and Farrah was traded to the New Orleans Pride for the 1980-1981 season.
The WBL folded after three seasons but started a movement for other professional opportunities in women’s basketball. The sport finally got its footing with the WNBA, which was formed in 1996 and now features 12 teams across the country. The league has honored those in the WBL, which included commemorating the 25th anniversary of the first women’s professional basketball in the United States in 2004.
“The two years I spent playing professional basketball were some of the best experiences of my life and I wouldn’t have traded them for anything,” Farrah said.