Unforgettable moments. Championships and heartbreaking losses. Groundbreaking teams and trendsetting athletes. Breathtaking skills. Since Title IX became...
Unforgettable moments. Championships and heartbreaking losses. Groundbreaking teams and trendsetting athletes. Breathtaking skills. Since Title IX became law in 1972, our state has seen all that and much more.
In 2006, volleyball star Courtney Thompson becomes the first University of Washington athlete to win the Honda Award, given to the nation’s top female athlete in all NCAA sports. Thompson led the Huskies to three straight Final Four appearances, 2004 through 2006, including a national title in 2005.
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Herb Dempsey of Spanaway believes he has filed nearly 1,000 Title IX complaints. The mission began when his daughter’s successful Bethel High School volleyball team was barely recognized at a Homecoming event that made a big deal of the players on the 3-6 football team.
Causing a racket
WTA stars Chris Evert, Martina Navratilova, Billie Jean King and transsexual Renee Richards compete in Virginia Slims events at the Seattle Center Arena and Coliseum, each February from 1979 through 1982.
Four Seattle-area women — Anne Levinson, Ginny Gilder, Dawn Trudeau and Lisa Brummel — buy the Storm in 2008. Two years later, they became the first women owners to win a pro sports title when the Storm swept through the 2010 WNBA playoffs without losing a game.
Pacific Lutheran wins the NAIA women’s soccer championship in 1988, 1989 and 1991. Coach Colleen Hacker, who has a doctoral degree, went on to be the sports psychologist for the USA women’s soccer team in 1995, and has been on staff for the past four Olympic Games.
Kayleigh Perkins joins one of Washington’s favorite summer pastimes, driving the Oh Boy! Oberto hydroplane at Seafair in 2010. Perkins, who was just 22 years old, hit a speed of 147.058 mph on her first lap. It was the first time a woman had driven a turbine-powered unlimited hydroplane. Perkins was national champion in the unlimited lights class.
Linda Sheridan, a star athlete at Washington State, returns to her high-school alma mater, Shadle Park, to coach girls basketball and volleyball. Her teams won 849 games and matches, losing just 222 times for a 79.3 overall winning percentage. She won seven state titles before retiring in 1998. The school named its gym in honor of Sheridan, the winningest prep coach in Spokane history, male or female. Also, a scholarship is awarded at the school to athletes who push to go beyond their limitations and in doing so encourage others to do the same.
Huskies pitcher Danielle Lawrie is the national softball player of the year in 2009 and 2010. Washington won the 2009 national championship. The program has had 41 All-Americans in its 18-year history.
Kathy Langston is hired in 1969 at Sammamish High School, where there is no girls basketball team. She forms an unofficial league, playing six games. There were no uniforms. An official team originated in 1971, and with Cathy Benedetto as coach and Langston as her assistant, the Totems won state titles in 1976 and 1977.
Rachel Jordan is voted to the Homecoming court at Olympic High School. But she was more comfortable becoming the first girl in school history to start a football game for the Trojans, in 2010. Jordan, a 5-foot-6, 150-pound guard, began playing football with her twin brother Ryan at age 7.
Washington makes the NCAA women’s soccer tournament for the 11th time in 2010. Former Huskies goalkeeper Hope Solo was a member of the 2008 U.S. gold-medal team in Beijing. Her spirited personality helped her popularity soar, making celebrity appearances on “Dancing with the Stars” and the cover of the June 2012 issue of Vogue magazine.
Anne Quast, a junior girls state-champion golfer in the 1950s, wins her first U.S. Senior Amateur title at age 50 in 1987. She won again in 1989, 1990 and 1993. Pictured on the cover of Sports Illustrated in August 1959, Quast was inducted into the Pacific Northwest Hall of Fame in 1999 and ranked 37th among all-time golfers in the 2001 book “The Golf 100: Ranking the Greatest Golfers of All Time.”
Washington basketball players Katie Collier and Kayla Burt tug at heartstrings with their desire to play despite physical ailments. Burt was forced to retire after suffering cardiac arrest on New Year’s Eve 2002. Burt, who had a defibrillator implanted, raises awareness for heart health as the outreach coordinator for the Hope Heart Institute in Bellevue. Collier, who will play for the Huskies next season, returned to the court two months after being diagnosed with acute promyelocytic leukemia. A versatile, 6-foot-3 forward, she was a 2012 McDonald’s All-American.
In a 2008 softball game, Central Washington’s Mallory Holtman and Liz Wallace carry Western Oregon senior Sara Tucholsky around the diamond after she injured her knee and was unable to run the bases for a three-run homer. Her home run gave Western Oregon a 4-2 victory and ended Central’s chances of winning the conference and advancing to the NCAA tournament. Holtman and Wallace won the ESPY for Best Sports Moment of 2008.
JoAnne Carner of Kirkland is the only woman who has won the U.S. Golf Association Girls Junior Amateur (1956), U.S. Women’s Amateur (1957, 1960, 1962, 1966, 1968) and the U.S. Women’s Open (1971, 1976). “Big Mama” was the LPGA Player of the Year in 1974, 1981 and 1982 and inducted into its Hall of Fame in 1982.
It’s a Starbird
Kate Starbird, a high-school All-American at Lakes, leads Stanford to three consecutive Pac-10 titles and Final Four appearances (1995, ’96 and ’97). She was the national player of the year as a senior. After a professional career in the ABL and WNBA, Starbird worked at Microsoft. She will begin work as an assistant professor at the University of Washington’s Department of Human Centered Design and Engineering this fall.
Cross country perfection
Washington’s women’s cross-country team caps a perfect season by winning the 2008 NCAA championship. The Huskies swept the top six spots at the Pac-10 championships. Greg Metcalf was named national coach of the year. Katie Flood, the 2010 Pac-10 newcomer of the year, won the 1,500-meter NCAA championship in track and field earlier this month.
Joanne Washburn serves as the Washington State women’s athletic director from 1965 through 1982. During her tenure, the budget grows from a paltry $2,000 to more than $1 million. Washburn, who was an associate professor, retired in 2005 and was inducted into the Cougars’ Hall of Fame in 2011.
Cathy Benedetto leads the Seattle University women’s basketball team to the AIAW regionals in 1979, the first Div. I postseason appearance for a team from the state. Benedetto was 50-30 before the school was reclassified as Div. II. Seattle U. returned to the Div. I level in 2009 and played in the Women’s Basketball Invitational tournament in 2012.
Rebecca Twigg wins a silver medal in cycling at the 1984 Olympics. After a 1987 crash caused her to quit, she returned to win a bronze medal at the 1992 Olympics in the 3,000-meter individual pursuit. Twigg won six world championships, and set the individual pursuit world record in 1995.
Debbie Armstrong becomes the first U.S. woman to win Olympic gold in the giant slalom in the 1984 Olympics at Sarajevo. Skiing wasn’t the first sport for Armstrong, who played basketball and soccer at Garfield High.
Nearly perfect season
In 2004, the Central Washington volleyball team cruises through its first 26 matches undefeated before losing in NCAA Div. II regional play. All-American blocker LeAnne McGahuey and setter Kate Reome were the team’s stars. McGahuey is volleyball coach and assistant athletic director at Wenatchee High. Reome married former Sonics point guard Luke Ridnour and has three sons.
First pro champions
The Storm, which began play in 2000, wins the WNBA title in 2004. The team averaged 7,960 fans during the regular season and had back-to-back full sellout crowds at KeyArena (17,072) as it clinched the championship against Connecticut. It was the city’s first pro title since the Sonics won the NBA championship in 1979.
Arian Carpio and her brother Ares were each undefeated wrestlers at Beamer High School in Federal Way entering Mat Classic in February 2012. Arian, just a freshman, was 29-0 with 18 pins and was the state’s top-ranked girl at 106 pounds. She lost her first match at the state tournament.
Washington and Washington State have female sports editors for their daily newspapers simultaneously. Chris Swanson worked for UW’s Daily, entering the football locker room with the male sports reporters for the first time in 1974. At WSU, Daily Evergreen editor Sue English never went into male locker rooms games with the Cougars because she “didn’t feel it was the right thing to do.” Unlike UW, WSU players were willing to immediately speak with English after games, however. Swanson, working in 1977 for The Seattle Post-Intelligencer, and Seattle Times reporter Sherry Stripling were not allowed to enter locker rooms with male reporters at the high-school football state championships. By the time they were allowed in, most of the players they were covering were gone.
Spokane’s Carol Dellinger, diagnosed with breast cancer in October 2009, is still running marathons. The Rock ‘n’ Roll Seattle Marathon on Saturday will be her 262nd. Dellinger, once a semipro fastpitch softball player, ran her first marathon because a softball teammate challenged her. Dellinger discovered she had a talent for endurance running, quit softball in 1992 and has run an average of 13 marathons a year since.
The Washington gymnastics team makes its 30th NCAA postseason appearance in 31 years. In 1998, the Huskies were NCAA regional champions and have advanced to the NCAA championships five times.
Olympic hoops glitter
Team USA, with headliners Lisa Leslie, Rebecca Lobo and Jennifer Azzi, travels to Seattle for the 10th stop of its tuneup for the 1996 Atlanta Games. The Olympians defeated the University of Washington in an exhibition game at Edmundson Pavilion, 92-47, before 5,741 fans in November 1995.
Michelle Akers, a three-time soccer All-American at Shorecrest High, leads the U.S. team to the 1999 World Cup title, helping to launch a pro league in America. Akers was named Player of the Century by FIFA after a 15-year international career. Akers lives in Florida and spends much of her time rescuing horses.
The Seattle Warbirds, a band of women with day jobs, join together in 2001 to play a sport they love. The Warbirds played in the Women’s American Football League, and were unbeaten during the regular season. That ethic has been picked up by the Rat City Rollergirls, a Seattle roller derby league comprised of 80 skaters, who do it for the love of their sport.
Joyce Walker and Sheila Lambert are Seattle playground basketball stars who schooled the boys. Lambert, a star at Chief Sealth High who had her jersey retired at Baylor, won the Naismith Award in 2002 as the country’s best senior 5 feet 8 or shorter. Walker was a two-time All-American, an inductee into the Louisiana State Hall of Fame and the third woman to play for the Harlem Globetrotters. She coached her alma mater, Garfield High, to a state championship in 2005 after winning one with the Bulldogs as a senior in 1980.
Brea Lopez wins two Grand National titles, four consecutive winter national events and two regional titles from 1998 through 2004, driving quarter and half midget sprint cars. She was the 2003 Eastern Grand Champion and 2004 Western Grand Champion. In 2009, she switched to Late Model divisions of racing.
Washington is one of three schools to receive a bid to all 16 NCAA women’s crew championships. The Huskies won national titles in 1997, 1998 and 2001. Former Huskies Anna Mickelson and Mary Whipple won gold for the U.S. at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Storm star Lauren Jackson bares all for the Australian magazine Black + White before the 2004 Athens Olympic Games. Jackson, a native Australian, saw her WNBA website spike in hits.
Reign on me
The Seattle Reign is the state’s first pro women’s basketball team, part of the eight-team American Basketball League. The Reign played its first game Oct. 18, 1996, losing at Colorado.
Nola Ayres coaches the Sehome High girls gymnastics team to a national-record 23 state titles, including 13 consecutive from 1973 through 1985. She retired in 2000 with a 384-1 record in dual meets and her team was part of the inaugural WIAA Hall of Fame class in 2004.
Gonzaga point guard Courtney Vandersloot makes national waves by becoming the first Div. I player — male or female — to amass more than 2,000 points and 1,000 assists in her college career (2007-11). She led the Zags to their first Elite Eight NCAA tournament appearance in 2011 and was the state’s highest WNBA draft pick, going third overall to Chicago. Later that summer she was named an All-Star as a rookie.
Dr. Carol Gordon served as chair of the Washington State University Department of Physical Education from 1962 until retiring in 1983. She coached the Cougars’ field hockey and tennis teams until 1966 and served as president of the Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women in 1973-74. The University of Washington hired the Pac-10’s first woman athletic director, Barbara Hedges, in 1991. In her 13-year tenure, Hedges helped generate more than $80 million in capital improvements on campus, including the renovation of Edmundson Pavilion and home for the Husky Hall of Fame.
Foster High basketball star Sherri Johnson (1983-87) lit up the Class 1A record books, scoring 69 points in a 1986 game, a state record. She averaged 32.8 points and 12.5 rebounds during a state tournament run as a senior and her 50-point night at the 1987 quarterfinals remains a 1A tournament record.
Dawn “Babe” (Gilson) Musselman, who once trained with Helene Madison, quit swimming after missing the 1932 Olympics because of a sprained ankle. She returns to the sport at age 64 in 1976 to set 10 national records at the National Masters Swimming Championships, and was given the Pacific Northwest Association Inspirational Award in 1976.
Jayda Evans: 206-464-2067 or email@example.com. On Twitter @JaydaEvans; contributions from Washington historian Russ Dille and “The Great Book of Seattle Sports Lists” by Art Thiel, Mike Gastineau and Steve Rudman.