Lloyd Fetherolf, an insurance man from Woodbridge, spent $50,000 and realized a dream. Now he owns a professional team. The Washington Wiz is his.
The Wiz - a name Fetherolf likes but has not officially coined - is a member of the planned eight-team Women's Pro Basketball League. If the league gets off the ground, Washington would open its 34-gan season Dec. 15. Fetherolf can't wait.
"Women's sports have got to come on the scene. It's inevitable," said the 44-year-old Fetherolf. "I think the market in this area is above average and that a women's basketball team will be accepted."
Bill Byrne, the league president, also is encouraged. "All eight teams are ready to go," said Byrne from his Columbus, Ohio, office. "The league will have no financial problems the first year. "I'll guarantee you that."
Television, apparently, has much to do with Byrne's optimism. "We will have TV in Washington and in all our markets," said Byrne, who claimed that negotiations already have begun with a Washington station.
Byrne, 42, is principal owner of the National Scouting Bureau and served as director of player personnel for the Chicago Fire of the defunct World Football League.
Currently, the WBL is composed of New York, New Jersey, Houston and Washington in the East Division and Iowa, Minnesota, Milwaukee and Chicago in the West. Byrne said he expects St. Louis to join the West Division and either Philadelphia or a team from Florida to join the East before the season begins.
He expects teams from Seattle, Portland, San Francisco and Southern California to join the league for the 1979-80 season.
The WBL drafted college and freeagent players recently in New York City and Fetherolf felt he did well. "I think our club will have all the earmarks of a championship team," he said.
The Wiz selected free agents Sheila patterson (University of the District of Columbia), Denise Craig (Shaw) Linda Stroick (Michigan State), Angela Scott (Maryland) and Sue Revna (Virginia).
Recent college graduates selected by Washington were June Brewer (Ohio State), Tina Price (Georgia), Donna Forester (Clemson), Vivian Green (Norfolk State) and Felicla Payne (Dubuque).
Prominent players such as Ann Meyers of national champion UCLA and Montclair State's Carol Blazejowski, the nation's leading scorer last season, have said they prefer to remain amateurs in hopes of playing in the 1980 Olympics.
"We don't want to interfere with the Olympics," said Fetherolf. "The best talent should be available."
Byrne feels strongly that the league can easily survive the Olympics. If we thought 12 women would ruin the league, we wouldn't have started."
Fetherolf, who said he had to financial backers to help "perpetuate support," has not signed a player, does not have a staff, a coach or an arena. He expects to have a coach and a staff within a month.
Fetherolf realizes his club will be competing for the sporting dollar against the Bullets, the Capitals and arca colleges. For that reason, he has not ruled out playing some of Washington's home games in Norfolk and Baltimore.
Fetherolf emphasized that the Wiz will be a Washington team. "We've got to get some identity to the people," he said. "We're going to give them all the exposure we can."
Each team in the league would carry 12 active pjlayers. There would be a 30-second shooting clock, as there is in women's college basketball, and the ball would be smaller in circumference and lighter in weight. Games would be officiated by men and women.
There was much seriousness in the draft but there was a moment of the absurd. New York conlcuded the three-hour session by selecting former TV sports commentator and Miss America, Phyllis George.
Wecome to the WBL.