Edith Trice of the Younger Set, in 1913.

Edith Trice of the Younger Set, in 1913.

The NBA All Star Weekend always coincides with Black History Month. But this year it also overlaps with Valentines Day and takes place in New York City, so we are using the occasion to introduce a special team that touches on all four of these aspects. Please meet the Younger Set Girls, an all-star African American women’s basketball team that was formed in New York City in 1912.

We think if there were a “most irresistible” award for the weekend then this squad could win the title, not only for the design of its team identity that featured a huge red heart on the left chest of their uniforms and warmup gear but also for the pioneering aspect of the team’s history.

Formed in September 1912, the Younger Set had its club office at 135 West 135th Street in Harlem. The players on the team were also the club’s officers.

The team’s roster included some of the most talented players in the area. Rosa Mitchell, formerly a star with the championship-winning New York Girls, was president and team manager. Eva Miller was vice president. Mildred Gasaway was the club’s secretary. Edith Trice, formerly the captain of the powerful Spartan Girls of Brooklyn, was now the Younger Set’s captain and the organization’s treasurer.

Three of her brothers were affiliated with the Smart Set Athletic Club of Brooklyn, which considered the Younger Set its unofficial sister team. George and Arthur played for the club’s basketball team, and Lester, “a distance runner of much merit,” was its assistant manager.

The Younger Set’s very first game, played in late October 1912, was at Pierson’s Hall in Newark, New Jersey against a team from there called the Crescent Girls, who the Younger Set defeated 4 to 2. The Younger Set, “under the able leadership of Miss Edith Trice, outwitted and outplayed the Jerseyites at every stage of the game.”

A simple yet effective newspaper advertisement for the Younger Set, a successful New York City-based African American women's basketball team of the 1910s.

A simple yet effective newspaper advertisement for the Younger Set, a successful New York City-based African American women’s basketball team of the 1910s.

Though they had little time to prepare for the season, according to the team’s organizer, a man named Henry S. Creamer, they were ready anyway because “by hard and constant practice, the team was whipped into shape.”

This approach must have worked. After seven games, the Younger Set girls were still undefeated. Their rivals included the New York Girls, the Criterion Girls, and the Spartan Girls as well as teams in New Jersey and in Washington, DC.

One of the reasons that Creamer was able to sign top players is that the Younger Set played their home games at Young’s Casino, a beautiful venue located at East 134th St. and Park Avenue in Harlem. The facility included a roof garden, was managed by Alex Rogers, could accommodate “entertainments, balls, picnics, and private parties.” The proprietor also owned the famous Young’s Cafe, not far away at 126 West 135th Street.

Creamer was also a master promoter and a showman who had a way with words.

“I shall introduce to New York the Younger Set Girls’ basketball team, the neatest, sweetest, likewise cleverest girls’ team it has known,” Creamer announced before the Younger Set’s first home game. “I really believe it is the team that put the word ‘all’ in basketball.”

Alice Powell.

Alice Powell.

Eva Miller.

Eva Miller, who was also the team’s vice president.

Team promoters Harding and Wilson.

Team promoters Harding and Wilson.

Mildred Gasaway.

Mildred Gasaway was the Younger Set organization’s secretary.