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The Trinity University Women’s Intercollegiate Athletics History Project

The Trinity University Women’s Intercollegiate Athletics (TUIWA) History Project began in 2015 with a simple inquiry.

As a founder of the first women's track team on campus, alum Peggy Kokernot Kaplan (class of 1975), was searching for information on the history and stats of her team.  She was unable to find any records of women's track predating the 1990s online. Further investigation revealed that Trinity did not have any team performance records before the 1970s.

Peggy contacted Shirley Rushing Poteet, a former physical education instructor and the one who encouraged Kaplan to start the track team.  Without many answers, they enlisted the help of Dr. Doug Brackenridge, professor emeritus of religion, avid Trinity University historian, and author of Trinity University: A Tale of Three Cities.

Dr. Brackenridge asked alum and intercollegiate athlete Betsy Gerhardt Pasley (class of 1977) to aid in their research. Poteet, Brackenridge, and Pasley, with the help of former university archivist Jessica Neal, formed a committee in 2017 to formulate procedures for their project. Trinity librarian Meredith Elsik additionally volunteered to assist. The committee worked to comb through Mirage yearbooks, past issues of the Trinitonian, and athletic files at the University Archives to find records of women’s intercollegiate sports.

Their research was rewarded with a chronicled history of 150 years of women’s athletics at Trinity, but that history lacked a vital element: the perspectives of Trinity women athletes. 

The TUWIA Oral History Project was developed to gain those experiences and perspectives into the defining years of women’s athletics. Focusing on the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s, the project has recorded insights into the formation of the women's program. Among the common threads between the narratives are the effects of Title IX, the value and benefits of Division III athletics, and the lasting impact coaches and administrators have made on these athletes, none of which was evident in the archived documentation.

From the committee’s work over the past four years, a manuscript is being developed to capture the 150-year story in book form. Sections will feature social and Trinity-specific historic benchmarks since its establishment in 1869, personal stories derived from the oral history interviews of participants in the program, and a selection of illustrations and pictures highlighting the pivotal moments of the progress of women’s intercollegiate sports. The narrative will feature profiles of the women “pioneers” for the programs, as well as the impact of the game-changing 1972 Title IX legislation and how it affected women’s intercollegiate athletes at Trinity.

Team Members:

Douglas Brackenridge

Dr. Brackenridge joined the Trinity faculty in 1962 as an assistant professor in the department of religion and retired in 2002 as professor emeritus. In retirement, he does volunteer work in the archives and writes articles for various Trinity publications. He received his Ph.D. in ecclesiastical history from the University of Glasgow and is the author of a history of Trinity entitled A Tale of Three Cities. Although classroom teaching was always his priority, he did spend a lot of time enjoying Trinity’s athletic facilities and jogging with friends in local parks and trails.

Shirley Rushing Poteet

Shirley Rushing Poteet, a native of Iuka, MS, received her B.S. and M.A. in Health, Physical Education and Recreation from Mississippi Southern University. After teaching three years at Baylor University she joined the Trinity faculty in 1960, serving as department chair from 1985 until her retirement in 1995. In addition to teaching sports, aquatics and dance she was instrumental in starting Women’s Intercollegiate Athletics at Trinity in the 1960s. She is co-author of two books, Kicker Dancing’—Texas Style and Ballroom Dance—American Style. She has had the pleasure of re-connecting with many former Trinity student/athletes through this project.

Betsy Gerhart Pasley

Betsy Gerhardt Pasley was drawn to this sports history project for a variety of reasons. First, as a varsity athlete in Trinity softball and basketball and member of the first-ever women’s track team in the early Title IX era, she brings her personal experience to the effort. In her senior year of 1976-77, she also served as sports editor for the Trinitonian newspaper and Mirage yearbook, and worked in the public relations department as an assistant Sports Information Director. She spent four years as a sportswriter for daily newspapers before entering a 30-year career in the corporate communications industry. This history project has been a great way for her to rediscover her love for Trinity and sports, and a chance to reconnect with her former intercollegiate teammates. 

Advisors:

Jes Neal
Meredith Elsik
Jacob Tingle
Angela Breidenstein
Justin Parker 
Abra Schnur

The Mellon Institute Summer Research Project

Developed over the summer of 2021, The Mellon Institute Project sought to contribute to the overarching history project by creating a digital space to present findings and make resources on the topic available to the Trinity community.

The Institute's project consists of four exhibits: a directory of intercollegiate sports teams involving women from the 1970s through the 1990s; a timeline of women’s athletics at Trinity; a visual exploration of the inequities that women athletes at Trinity have faced; and a discussion of the impacts of athletic involvement, Division III, and Title IX on women athletes. In turn, these digital exhibits illustrate many of the key historic and systemic issues surrounding women’s sports at Trinity and at large. 

Additionally, the project funded professional transcription and online access to many of the oral histories from the project.

This digital space not only provides a platform for research findings, but also serves as a place to gather additional materials to further the project’s collection development and archiving of women's athletics at Trinity.

If you have any relevant materials you want to contribute to the collection, please use our contribution submission form or contact us with any questions.

Special thanks to Carly Leong for filming and editing this video.

Team Members:


Ardi Saunders
My name is Ardi, my pronouns are they/them, and I’m a rising senior majoring in Ancient Mediterranean Studies. I’m also a member of the Trinity Cross Country and Track teams, the Chamber Singers choir, the PRIDE officer team, and co-ed music fraternity, ΜΦΕ. In this project, I’ve been focused on navigating the physical archives to collect photos, slides, and documents to be displayed in the exhibits as well as conceptualizing and organizing the physical inequities exhibit. While working on this project, I’ve learned the importance of getting testimony from those who were there because the oral histories have added depth and relatability to the pictures and papers. Hearing these stories is a gift that we do not have for most of history.

Sam Henry  
I’m Sam! My pronouns are she/her, and I have been working on the Division III exhibit for this project. Gratefully, I have had the best team to work with to create a digital space to illuminate histories that we all truly value. I have focused on the physical archives and oral histories in hopes of developing a project that will open conversation and represent Trinity women’s athletics thoroughly. Specifically, I used the metadata found to put a story together, highlighting important parts of these histories that can reach a diverse audience. I am an Anthropology major, an African American Studies minor, a point guard on the women’s basketball team, a member of Black Student Union (BSU), a part of Partners in Health Engage (PIHE), and a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority (AKA). This entire project has been a blessing to work on, and I believe it will lay a foundation for many more stories and histories to continue to be told.

Hope Walker-Tamboli 

My name is Hope, and my pronouns are she/her! I’m a rising junior majoring in Environmental Studies, and planning to minor in Ancient Mediterranean Studies and Museum Studies. I am also a member of the Trinity University Archives Student Advocates and have done previous research with Dr. Jenkins of the Classics department on the intersection of race, gender, and sexuality in the BBC miniseries Troy: Fall of a City. My role in this project has been finding, organizing, and writing the metadata for each of the items (photos/audio clips) in our exhibit. I love this type of detail-oriented work because I feel like preserving these little details about each item helps to contextualize them and to keep their greater meaning alive. Without this information like the date of the object, its source, who it portrays, etc., we would have no real way of understanding the item or its significance.

Zoe Grout
My name is Zoe! My pronouns are she/her, and I’m a rising senior English major with minors in religion and geosciences. I play percussion in the Trinity Symphony Orchestra, do research in both the Roman World and Manuscript Labs, and work on the officer teams of the Trinity University Archives Student Advocates (TUASA) and the Trinity University Swing Bums. For this project, I’ve focused on writing text for the exhibits, as well as developing the digital spaces for the exhibits on Omeka. Working on this project has shown me just how great the role of historians and archivists is in determining our perception of history. Making choices about what we included in these exhibits about an untold history, and how we presented what we did, is a tremendous responsibility and honor.

Mentors:

Abra Schnur
Lauren Turek
Carey Latimore