NewsWomen's History Month 2023


Kansas City-area broadcaster shares history, struggle, triumph of women's basketball in docuseries

'Brenda VanLengen created 'If Not For Them' docuseries
Brenda Vanlengen
Posted at 10:00 PM, Mar 27, 2023
and last updated 2023-03-27 23:42:25-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Brenda VanLengen is a renowned women's basketball broadcaster.

You can catch the call of the former player and coach's daughter on ESPN and other networks during women's basketball games all season long.

"I was having a conversation with Marsha Sharp, the legendary coach at Texas Tech a few years ago, that there were a lot of coaches in their retirement years, and we're starting to lose their stories," VanLengen said.

Years ago, she set out on a mission to document that history and legacy of the game she loves in a docuseries titled "If Not For Them."

"When I really started looking at those who paved the way for us to have what we do today in women's basketball, what I have in my broadcasting career, it was very simple to say if not for them, we wouldn't have what we do today," VanLengen said.

The stories are sometimes sad, surprising and uplifting.

Each of the more than 100 women interviewed bring a different piece of the story of women's basketball here in the United States to life.  

"There were women all over the country in places that were having experiences, and winning championships, and doing things that were revolutionary," VanLengen said. "And there were people in other parts of the country that didn't know anything about it."

On Thursday, a portion of "If Not For Them" will be showcased at the NCAA Women's Basketball Final Four in Dallas, Texas — the same state that served as a battleground for Title IX more than 50 years ago.

"Even though they endured criticism, discrimination, racism, homophobia — so many things they had to battle against, they still pushed through, because they knew it was the right thing to do." VanLengen said. "I'm so excited about it. It really kind of makes me emotional, because these are the hidden figures of women's basketball, of women's sports, of women's leadership. By standing up for what was right when it wasn't the popular thing to do, they changed our world."

If Not For Them is still in need of a major funder to bring the project over the finish line.

Then, the incredible story chronicled in the interviews, film and photos will become a tool to educate and inspire generations to come.

KSHB 41 anchor Dia Wall asked VanLengen what she hopes people feel after they watch the docuseries.

"I hope the feeling in the room is celebration, that they can look back and think we did that," VanLengen said.