Wooster Runner Sprints to the Finish, 1980-81

Wooster Runner Sprints to the Finish, 1980-81


During the fall of 1980 and the Spring of 1981, Wooster added two more sports for women: cross country and track and field.  Even from the start, Wooster was blessed with some extraordianry talent.  This brought the total for women's sports to nine and immediately added numbers to the growing body of female athletes at the college.  Coach Craig Penny was in charge of both of these programs for the women, and would eventually take over the men's programs as well once Coach Bean retired.

Three Field Hockey Players Work the Ball Down the Field, 1981-82

Three Field Hockey Players Work the Ball Down the Field, 1981-82

The beginnning of the decade had to be bitterweet for the women who started competitive sport at Wooster.  Dr. Maria Sexton had been a major force behind the formation of the AIAW, and was one of the early tournament commissoners. Virginai Hunt was deeply involved at both the state and regional level with women's athletics, and while no longer at Wooster, was due to be the next president of the AIAW for the 1982-1983 term.  Nan Nichols had also been working with Doc Sexton to move women's sport forward.  The AIAW had over 1000 schools as members as it entered the decade, and was providing 41 national championship opportunities in 19 sports in 1981-82.

Wooster's field hockey team was able to participate in the very first Division III AIAW National Championship in the Fall of 1979, and ironically, the very last one, in the fall of 1981.  Finishing third, the highest finish at the national level for any Wooster women's team sport, the women has a phenomenal run.  Unfortunately, following that championship year, the AIAW was subsumed by the NCAA, which now took over women's intercollegiate sport for the first time.  This marked a major change in sport leadership, moving from a women lead, women created organization to one created and run by men.   For women like Sexton, Hunt and Nichols, who had worked so hard to bring competitive athletics to women, this outcome was devastating.

Kris Leslie Releases A Shot Under the Basket, 1982-1983

Three Field Hockey Players Work the Ball Down the Field, 1981-82

Very early on in this transtion, Women's Athletic Director Nan Nichols recognized the importance of conference play within the NCAA.  As a result, the women were already in the process of forming a conference in Ohio- the Centenial Athletic Conference.  This conference began opperation during the 1982-1983 academic year and is believed to have been the very first women's conference formed in the country.  The CAC consisted of seven colleges: Denison, Muskingum, Oberlin, Ohio Northern, Ohio Wesleyan University, Wittenberg, and Wooster.  Conference members competed in seven sports: field hockey, volleyball, basketball, swimming and diving, tennis, lacrosse, and track and field.  Wooster won two Centenial Athletic Conference Titles in the first year (1982-1983) in field hockey and basketball.  While Wooster women did not win any conference titles in the second year (1983-1984), they did win the All Sports Championship with the following individual sport finishes: field hockey (second), volleyball (second), basketball (third), swimming & diving (fourth), tennis (seventh), lacrosse (third), and track and field (second).

Women’s Basketball Team Photo, 1982-83

1982-83 Centenial Atletic Conference Champions, Women's Basketball

During the second year of running the Centenial Athletic Conference, the women were approached by Al Van Wie, the Men's Athletic Director at Wooster, to consider starting a new conference with both men and women together.  The men were currently in the Ohio Athletic Conference (OAC), but had been growing dissatisfied with the feeling that athletics were being emphasized over academics.  They brought together a group of like minded colleges, and in 1984-1985, the North Coast Athletic Conference (NCAC) began competition. This conference emphasized the importance of sport equity (alll sports were just as important as any other) and gender equity (men's and women's sports would be equally important) as founding principles.  The NCAC consisted of seven charter members: Allegheny College, Case Western Reserve University, Denison University, Kenyon College, Oberlin College, Ohio Wesleyan University, and the College of Wooster.

The conference initially sponsored 21 sports- 11 men's and 10 women's- the most of any NCAA Division III Conference. Sports offered for championship play for women included basketball, cross country, field hockey, lacrosse, socer, swimming, tennis, indoor track, outdoor track, and volleyball. Although only two women's programs won championships in the inaugural year (volleyball and basketball), Wooster went on to take the first NCAC All Sports Trophy, signifying overall excellence.  During the rest of this decade, Wooster went on to win women's NCAC titles in 

Originally, the women's teams at Wooster were referred to as the Scotties during the 1970's.  By the 1980's, many institutions had begun to gender mark their women's programs.  This would usually involve adding the tag "Lady" to whatever the name was for that institution's mascot.   While Women's Athletic Director Nan Nichols still favored the "Scotties" as the nickname for the women's teams, many of the athletes during this era were in favor of the moniker- "Lady Scots".  So, with some misgiving, the women became known as the Lady Scots by the 1986-1987 academic year. 

First Women's Varsity Soccer Team, 1985-1986

First Varsity Women's Soccer Team, 1985-1986

In the fall of 1985, the very first Women's Varsity Soccer Team was fielded at the College of Wooster.  Under Coach Barb DeLuca, they open with a 1-13 record, but quickly begin to grow over the course of the next five years, first under Jackie Maibach and then under Nick Cowell. By 1990, the women claimed their first NCAC title.

Women's Softball made the transition from slow pitch to fast pitch during the 1984-1985 season under coach Debby Stockham, who ressigned following that year.  Over the next season, the women struggled, and the decision was made in 1987 to drop the program.  Reports were that the team was unable to meet all of its game commitments during the season and that they were struggling with numbers.   In addition, the team's coach was part time, which added another challenge to recruiting and maintaining a program.  It would take nearly thirteen years before the program would be revived again in 2000, and fast pitch softball would return under a full-time head coach.