Calhoun County family sees six generations of girls take to the basketball court

For more than a century, women in one local family have been hitting the basketball court, a matrilineal tradition that started six generations ago in Auburn.

Frances (Bean) VanAhn kicked off the tradition, playing high school ball before graduating from Auburn in 1913. Today, VanAhn’s great-great-great-granddaughters, Payton and Sayer Steig, play for South Central Calhoun schools.

In between came Elise (VanAhn) Smith, who played at Lake City High School in the 1930s, then Marylyn Gillespie, a Lake City resident who played at Marcus Junior High in the 1950s. Gillespie’s daughters, Jolene Steig, who played the sport through junior high, and Rita Light and Joyce Wiederin, who were standout players for Lake City in the 1970s. They were followed by Miranda Light, who played for Rockwell City/Lytton in junior high, and Jenelle Steig, and, most recently, SCC’s Payton and Sayer, and another great-great-great-granddaughter, who lives in another part of Iowa.

“It’s always been a passion of mine,” Gillespie said of the sport. “That’s why it tickles me to know my mother and grandmother played.”

Read more in the Jan. 3 edition.