This is Vassar: The newsletter for Vassar College Alumnae/i and Families

Photo Credit: Courtesy NCAA Hall of Champions

NCAA’s Hall of Champions Features Vassar

On April 3 and 4, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) hosts the Division I women’s basketball Final Four championship in Indianapolis, Indiana, home of the NCAA’s Hall of Champions museum and conference center. It’s fitting, given that the Hall of Champions – mere days before – will have just unveiled a new permanent exhibit, “The History of Women in Intercollegiate Athletics.”

When the facility re-opened in 2009 after a devastating fire in 2007, the exhibits – which primarily covered the current 23 sports governed by the NCAA, with an emphasis on men’s athletics – “didn’t do much history,” notes Kelly Dodds, assistant director of special projects at the NCAA. That omission was especially striking for women’s athletics, which didn’t enter the NCAA until the 1981-1982 season. (Title IX, which mandated gender equality in higher education, including sports, passed in 1972, and the Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women, founded in 1971, championed the cause until the NCAA took the torch in the early 1980s).

“We realized that women’s sports was a piece of history that needed to be included, and that we were missing an opportunity to educate people about women’s journey to get where they are today,” says Dodds. She and her colleagues set out to create a timeline, illustrated with photos, artifacts, and memorabilia, and trace it back as far as they could. As it turns out, that timeline starts with Vassar and the college’s women’s baseball teams of 1866. “They started the whole thing off,” Dodds says. The famous 1876 photo of the Vassar Resolutes, successors to the earlier Laurels and Abenakis, accompanies the timeline entry.

“They’re perfect to get the point across,” Dodds says, “that a lot of things were happening in women’s athletics long, long ago.” – PB

April 2011

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