As part of the Tribune’s coverage of the 50th anniversary of Title IX, we asked for ideas from women who made an impact on sports history in the Chicago area.
In June, the Tribune published profiles of 50 women in all sport Y 20 women in sports media who stood out for their achievements on and off the field. But we wanted to hear from readers who they thought deserved attention for their work in girls’ and women’s sports.
These are some of their ideas.
- By narrowing the scope of the project to the Chicago area, in addition to some exceptional athletes from Illinois, we eliminated some notable women from the region’s universities, including Notre Dame basketball coach Muffet McGraw, Illinois state basketball coach Illinois, Jill Hutchison, and several key universities. of administrators in Illinois.
But perhaps we should have included, especially given her roots at Rich East High School and the scope of her impact, was former Northern Illinois athletic director Cary Groth. She played basketball and tennis at NIU, coached women’s tennis there and was an administrator before becoming athletic director in 1994, one of three female ADs at an institution with NCAA Division IA soccer at the time.
Groth was NIU’s AD for 10 years before becoming athletic director at Nevada, and was recently elected to the Mid-American Conference Hall of Fame. She is on the faculty of the Nevada College of Business and founded The Pictor Group, a collegiate sports consulting firm.
- Other suggestions for colleges outside the Chicago area included Pat McKinzie-Lechault, a native of Sterling, Ill., who earned the first Illinois State women’s basketball scholarship in 1978. She went on to play professionally in the women’s professional short-court basketball league. duration and in Europe. and he is an author who has written about Title IX.
- Rockford’s Deb Patterson, who attended Rockford College, was the Kansas State women’s basketball coach from 1996 to 2014. Her teams participated in nine NCAA tournaments and she was twice named Big 12 coach of the year. She is now the director of player personnel and program analysis at Washington State.
- Mary Terwilliger was a track athlete who attended NIU in the 1930s. She was a star sprinter for the AAU and made two Olympic trials. She was companion of Chicago speedster Tidye Pickettwhose compelling story was told by the Tribune in 2016.
- Sandra Bucha was one of the early fighters for girls’ opportunities in Illinois high school sports.
A talented swimmer, Bucha trained with the men’s team under Hinsdale Central coach Don Watson, but wanted to compete with them in competitions. In the months before Title IX was enacted, he filed a lawsuit against the Illinois High School Association to push for girls to be allowed to compete with boys in noncontact sports. The claim was unsuccessfulbut the IHSA’s implementation of girls’ swimming was not far behind.
Bucha became an accomplished marathon swimmer who He was inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame.
- Only a few of hundreds of worthy Illinois high school coaches received recognition in our profiles, but veteran Chicago-area sportswriter Jack McCarthy thinks former Mother McAuley volleyball coach Nancy Pedersen deserves a mention.
Pedersen retired in 2004 with nine state titles and a career record of 789-110.
- Women who worked in sports business or charities weren’t a big part of our profiles, unless they worked for one of Chicago’s pro teams, like Jaime Faulkner of the Blackhawks and Karen Murphy of the Bears.
There are probably many we could add, but two suggestions were Lisa (Meyers) Strasman and Barb Lazarus.
Strasman grew up playing hockey in Skokie and went on to play at Yale and internationally. she is now the President and COO of Next College Student Athlete (NCSA)a Chicago-based recruiting organization that connects high school athletes with college coaches.
Lázaro is the founder of Game on! sports 4 girlswhich helps promote healthy lifestyles for girls through sports and physical activity through summer camps and school programs.
- A couple of readers wrote in to share their experiences fighting for their place in sports, including former Morton West student Barbara Lukes Collins.
Collins said he covered a boys’ indoor track meet for his high school newspaper in 1965. He had to fight to get the article on the sports page, and his adviser was going to publish it without his byline because it was a little girl.
After she insisted on a byline, it was published under the name B. Lukes. Collins was irritated that she left out her first name, but she still takes pride in being the first girl to cover a sporting event for the paper. She later studied journalism and has written two books on horticulture.
Here’s to all these women who fought for their places in sports, and the millions more.