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University of Iowa News Release


Oct. 26, 2006

1969 Basketball Team, Women's Archives Featured At Women's Sports Celebration

The University of Iowa Libraries, College of Education and Hawkeye Women's Basketball will be honoring the tradition of women's basketball at a 5 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 1, "tailgate" party on the East Concourse of Carver-Hawkeye Arena before the UI women's basketball team takes on the Wolves of Northern State University at 6:35 p.m. Free tickets to the game will be provided at the reception, but advanced reservations are required.

The honorees include a group of young women, made up primarily of physical education majors at the University of Iowa, who traveled to West Chester, Penn. to play basketball in the first national tournament for women in 1969. No more than a club team, the players shared a set of uniforms with all the other female athletes, paid their own travel expenses and borrowed jackets from the junior varsity men's wrestling team. Through hard work, dedication and a love of the game, they made it to the semi-finals, and finished fourth in the tournament.

Head Women's Basketball Coach Lisa Bluder will give a preview of her Hawkeye team and the upcoming season. Also, historical exhibits drawn from the Iowa Women's Archives collections at the UI Libraries will be on display. Kären Mason and her staff have traced the evolution of women's sports at Iowa and will share that story at the celebration.

The Iowa Women's Archives holds extensive records of the UI Department of Physical Education for Women and of its Women's Recreation Association, which sponsored club sports for women in the era before they were allowed to participate in varsity sports. It also includes papers from noted leaders in women's athletics, such as Christine Grant, former director of Women's Athletics at the UI, an interview with Olympic and former UI women's basketball coach Vivian Stringer, and Mildred Wirt Benson, author of the Nancy Drew mystery series, as well as a member of a swimming club as a UI student in the 1920s.

The 1969 team members played just prior to Congress passing Title IX in 1972-preventing gender discrimination in sports, before the NCAA included women athletes, and even before women played full-court basketball. The team played a six-person game.

"In every person's lifetime, there are special events that stand out. This tournament experience is one of those for me," said team member Karen Davis Williams. "Watching the NCAA tournament each spring brings back those great memories and the satisfaction that we blazed the trail for young women who play this great game today." 

The event is free and open to the public, but reservations are required for this event by Oct. 30; RSVP for this event online at or by calling 319-335-6093.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

CONTACTS: Media: George McCrory, 319-384-0012,; Program: Kristi Bontrager, 319-335-5960,