Thursday March 22, 2018

Field, court, classroom

By Kristina Schulz, Assistant University Archivist

 Women’s athletics have come a long way at UD since coeds were first admitted to the College of Women in 1935. In their first semester, the Women’s Athletic Association was formed, offering tennis, volleyball, riding, basketball and hiking.  In 1937, Lou Tschudi, a former UD football player, created and ran the intramural program for women. A point system was instituted, and women were able to compete for points and earn the Varsity D monogram (Proposal for Intercollegiate Athletics for women, 1974, p.2).

The Women’s Athletic Association joined the Athletic Federation of College Women in 1939.  The women’s intramural sports program expanded over the years with additional sports offerings and “play days” where the coeds would travel to other colleges to compete with other teams. Through a series of coed athletic directors, the women’s sports program evolved. By 1949, intercollegiate sports for women at UD were well underway (Proposal for IAW, 1974, pp. 3-4).

Doris Drees: pioneer and proponent

Doris Drees was a student at UD in the early 1950s when the women’s athletic season consisted of only four to eight games. Basketball was played on a half-court "because girls supposedly lacked the stamina to run the full length," Drees said. The rules for the games were slightly different and did not allow for proper skill development, according to Drees (Alumna, 1985, p. 6).

Drees became a physical education faculty member and coach at UD in 1956 after teaching at Julienne High School in Dayton. Women funded their own sports activities through dues, rummage sales and bake sales. Officials were paid from allocations in the physical education department budget. Through the 1950s and into the early '60s, women's sports activities were largely self-funded (Proposal for IAW, 1974, p. 4). As director of the women's physical education program, Drees made a request for funding for coaches' salaries in 1963. The funding was set up under intramurals, and women's athletics had an official budget (Alumna, 1985, p. 7).

Title IX: A turning point

A turning point for women's athletics came with the passage of Title IX in 1972. Equal opportunities had to be available to all students, regardless of sex, in education programs or activities that received federal funding. Through Title IX, women's athletics at UD gained a women’s athletic director, three coaches, a staff secretary and an athletic trainer. Elaine Dreidame became the athletic director in 1974 (Alumna, 1985  p. 7).

The transition under Title IX went fairly smoothly for UD, according to Drees. She attributed this to the "caring spirit" of the University. It wasn’t always easy, she said, but change was necessary, and women benefited from equal opportunity in every area on the campus. Dreidame made the point that "the current success of UD's women's teams has its roots in Title IX (which provided a mandate) in getting money (which provided the means) and in following through (which provided success)" (University of Dayton Magazine, Winter 2010, pp. 35-36).  As a result, women at UD had the opportunity to learn teamwork through participation in athletics and to experience a level of athleticism that had not existed decades earlier.

— Kristina Schulz is the Assistant University Archivist in the University Libraries.

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