The 1960’s were a transitional period for women in sport. It was an increasingly liberal time, which allowed women to become more active in sports. In fact, rather than leading to constant disapproval, women’s sports were becoming more acceptable both at the high school and college levels. Furthermore, the number of women attending college was increasing at a rapid rate throughout this period. However, women were not only demonstrating their academic abilities, but also their athletic skills. Gender roles were constantly being molded, so women were encouraged to play sports that demonstrated their femininity. For example, female athletes at the College of Wooster, often called “Lassies” or “Scotties,” were not viewed as legitimate competitors. Instead, sports were viewed as a valuable resource for women to maintain an attractive figure and as a venue to appropriately socialize with their male counterparts.
At the beginning of the 1960’s, the WRA (Women’s Recreation Association) sponsored all women’s recreation, intramurals, and intercollegiate teams in sports, such as hockey, volleyball, basketball, competitive swim, archery, tennis, softball, and bowling. This organization sought to provide the women the same opportunities as the men, even if the college would not recognize them as varsity sports. In the beginning, these sports were not funded by the school. As a result, the students had to organize and fund their own events. Maria Sexton, the director of physical education was ready for change and wanted to give the women the equality in sports they deserved. Even while they fought constantly for these equal opportunities, they were constantly reminded that sport was for mingling and having fun and not for serious competition.
Throughout the early 1960’s, women’s involvement in athletics at the College of Wooster was primarily through club teams. Unlike varsity teams, club teams, are funded solely by students and student organizations like the WRA. Additionally, they were not typically provided coaching through the school. Although club teams were able to play competitively against other universities, they were not considered part of the varsity teams the school offered. While there was no equality of sports between men and women, these club teams were heading in a productive direction and would ultimately lead to the inclusion of women in varsity sports.
Undoubtedly, female athletes at the college, along with Maria Sexton, worked hard to increase the number of opportunities for and level of competition available to women. In particular, the reputation of women’s sports at the college shifted throughout the later part of the decade as the college began to offer more varsity teams at the insistence of the female coaches and athletes. In fact, Wooster had added its first two women’s varsity teams by 1965: basketball and field hockey. Both teams had many impressive feats in their early years of competition. In fact, the field hockey team was the college’s only undefeated varsity team in 1967. In this same year, varsity girls volleyball was added to the college’s athletic department with a winning record of 4-2 in their first year of competition.