41 Years of Women’s Varsity Sports

Since Davidson College officially went co-educational in 1972, women have been playing sports. Early sports participation by Davidson women included the formation of a co-ed intramural swim team in 1972, and Tracy Charles (Class of 1974) became the first woman to join the varsity sailing team that same year.

1974-1975 swim team.
1974-1975 co-ed swim team, from Quips and Cranks 1975.

On October 26, 1973, the College Trustees passed¬† their Policy Statement on Athletics and Physical Education, which included a proviso that “other intercollegiate athletic teams, including women’s teams, be supported financially at a level which would enable them to make a positive contribution to the overall athletic program,” which marked the College’s intention to comply with Title IX. 1973-1974, the first year that freshman women enrolled as degree candidates, saw the establishment of basketball and tennis as varsity sports for women. The basketball team was coached on a volunteer basis by Ann Holland, whose husband Terry coached the varsity men’s team. The tennis team was led by student player-coach Carol Goldsborough (Class of 1975). This banner year for women in Davidson sports also produced the first female varsity swimmer, Susan Reid (Class of 1977).

The 1974-1975 women's tennis team, from Quips & Cranks 1975.
The 1974-1975 women’s tennis team, from Quips & Cranks 1975.
The women's basketball team on the bench during a game in Johnston Gym, circa late 1970s.
The women’s basketball team on the bench during a game in Johnston Gym, circa late 1970s.

The first full-time paid female athletics staff member was Pat Drake, who was appointed in Fall 1974 to coach swimming and women’s tennis. Two years later, Susan Roberts was hired to coach women’s basketball and the newly established field hockey team, and during the 1977-1978 year, a playing field was set aside specifically for the field hockey team.

The Davidson field hockey team playing during its inaugural year, 1976.
The Davidson field hockey team playing during its inaugural year, 1976.
Davidson basketball player makes a jump shot, circa early 1980s.
Davidson basketball player makes a jump shot, circa early 1980s.

1977 through 1980 saw further expansion of women’s sports at Davidson: a co-ed intramural equestrian program began in 1977, women’s cross country and track intramural teams were formed in 1978 (both teams became varsity programs in 1982), and athletic facilities were improved by renovation and expansion of women’s locker rooms. Rebecca “Becca” Stimson (Class of 1977) is a standout athlete from these early years of women at Davidson – Stimson lettered in three varsity sports (four years of tennis, three of basketball, and one season of field hockey), and since 1978, the Rebecca E. Stimson Award has been presented to “a woman athlete in recognition of outstanding dedication and contribution to intercollegiate athletics” (from the College Catalog 2010-2011; see a list of the Stimson award winners here).

Davidson's Riding Club, from Quips & Cranks 1980.
Davidson’s Riding Club, from Quips & Cranks 1980.

Women’s sports at Davidson have continued to expand, adding volleyball in 1986, soccer in 1989, and lacrosse in 1994. Some notable highlights include: a 1984 women’s tennis Division III National Championship; a 1991 women’s tennis Big South Conference Championship; six consecutive Deep South Field Hockey Championships between 1991 and 1996; women’s soccer Southern Conference Championships in 1993, 1994, 1995, and 2009; a 2008 women’s swimming Coastal Collegiate Swimming Association championship. Currently,¬† Davidson women compete in ten varsity sports.

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