West Chester University’s highly competitive athletic program provides students the opportunity to showcase their talents outside the classroom. During the early years of WCU athletics, women athletes were forbidden to compete on athletic teams – just 50 years later WCU has changed the face of women’s athletics.Female student athletes that competed for WCU are invited back to campus on June 6 for a day of festivities to celebrate 50 years of women’s athletics. Since 1959, women athletes have shown their “love for the game” by having more athletic teams than men – WCU currently has 14 women’s athletic teams and only 9 men’s athletic teams.
“I am so proud to be a WCU women’s athletics alumnus,” Christine Karpinski, a 1989 WCU graduate and Professor in the Department of Health, said. “The history of our programs deserves a huge celebration. Being involved with WCU athletics is a very big part of who I am today.”
Dr. Edward M. Matejkovic, Director of Athletics, and Keri Haibach, Director of Development, have worked around the clock to spearhead the planning and organization of the celebration. Along their side is a committee of former coaches and players including Dr. Eve Atkinson, Vonnie Gros, Sandy Theilz, Barbara Cordova, Julie Glavin, Sue Parkinson, and Gail Brown.
Over the years, WCU women’s athletics has been committed to athletic excellence. In 1969, WCU women’s basketball team won the first women’s basketball championship, which took place on WCU campus.
WCU also won the first four women’s field hockey championships, which were previously known as AIAW. In 1992, WCU became the first school in PSAC to sponsor women’s soccer. WCU is currently the only division two school to sponsor women’s rugby.
“WCU women’s athletics has a history of being successful,” said Dr. Matejkovic. “However today there is much more press coverage of games and better record taking.”
Activities for the day will take place from 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. In the morning, attendees will meet at Sykes Student Union for registration and a continental breakfast followed by a guided campus tour. Then attendees will gather for a luncheon provided by ARAMARK, which will feature keynote speaker Marian Washington.
The conclusion of the day’s activities will include a photo opportunity in front of the Ram Statue, a visit to Hollinger Field Hall of Fame, and a meet and greet reception with current coaches.
WCU athletic memorabilia will be showcased during the celebration featuring uniforms, hats, and trophies from throughout the years. All of the donated memorabilia will be permantely displayed at Hollinger Field House.
Cathy Rush, a 1968 WCU graduate, will serve as the Emcee at the celebration. Rush became a leader in women’s athletics by achieving Hall of Fame status. She was recently inducted into the Nasimith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2008. She is also a member of the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame, Pennsylvania Hall of Fame, Philadelphia Big 5 Hall of Fame, U.S. Olympic committee of Women’s Basketball, and a recipient of special achievement award from the Delaware County Athletes Hall of Fame.
Keynote speaker Marian Washington is a 1970 WCU graduate and retired University of Kansas head women’s basketball coach. During the celebration, Washington will discuss her experience with women’s athletics on and off campus. 550 career victories, seven conference titles, six league tournament titles, four All-Americans, 11 NCAA tournaments, among another accomplishments has allowed Washington to make a lasting impression on women’s athletics across the nation.
Sponsors of the celebration include WCU Student Services, Sheraton Great Valley Hotel, Barnaby’s of America, UPS, and Metropolitan Flag & Banner. For registration and other information about the celebration visit www.wcupagoldenrams.com.
Melissa Stack is a third-year student majoring in Communication Studies and minoring in Journalism. She can be reached at MS626731@wcupa.edu.