In early August of 1965, I was quite excited to hear that I had gotten a job as Assistant Professor in Physical Education at Arizona State University. At 31 years of age, I was confident and eager to begin my career as a Sun Devil! The entire physical education department - both men and women - as well as the men's athletic department were located in the building that is now known as PEWest. Men's football games were played in Sun Devil Stadium with a seating capacity of 30,000 and men's basketball games were played in the one gym in PE West. In future years, several additions were made to Sun Devil Stadium to increase the seating capacity. Women's athletics as an entity did not exist. Competition for women in the individual sports - tennis; golf; archery; badminton and swimming - was conducted through the women's physical education department. This competition was governed nationally by the Division for Girls' and Women's Sports of the American Association for Health, Physical Education and Recreation. The only competition offered in volleyball; basketball; softball and field hockey was in a playday/sportsday format. Playdays and sportsdays for women of all ages had existed for years. The emphasis was supposed to be on the social aspect of the day rather than on winning. The desire to win, though, was always there!
Even though ASU didn't have a women's athletic department as such at that time, many very talented female athletes enrolled as freshmen and most eventually graduated with a degree. Among those were:
Joanne Gunderson (Carner) - 1957-1961
Won the Women's National Collegiate Golf Championship in 1960
Later joined the LPGA tour with much success
Patsy Willard (Heckel) - 1961-1964
Four time All-American in diving; competed in two Olympic Games
Peggy Michel - 1969-1972
Pam Richmond(Champagne) - 1970-1972
Key tennis doubles team in 1st National Tennis title in 1971
Judy Severance - 1964-1967
Nations top ranked archer in 1964-1967
ASU's 1st All-American in any sport
Tyna Barinaga - 1964-1967
World class badminton player and key player on U.S.Uber Cup Team
There were many, many more! Faculty members such as Margaret Klann in archery; Merle Packer in badminton; Anne Pittman in tennis; Mona Plummer in swimming; and Betty Graham and Sally Hardwick in golf; created an environment for outstanding athletes to maintain and develop the skills necessary for them to excel on both the national and international level. As Mona said in an article that was published as part of the dedication of the Mona Plummer Aquatic Center on October 31, 1986, "While our ASU teams have had a great amount of success, I am the first to admit that I, as the coach, cannot take the credit for their swimming ability as most of them came from outstanding swimming programs and have had top coaches. I do like to think that perhaps they are continuing to swim in college because of the program we offer. I feel my contribution is in creating the swimming environment that encourages them to reach their potential."