Before University recognition in 1971, the women’s tennis players were not provided with uniforms, balls, shoes, or transportation to tournaments. In this Trinitonian article, transfer student Emilie Burrer Foster, class of 1969, looked forward to practicing under Coach Clarence Mabry. As Foster revealed in her interview, Coach Mabry never worked with her due to his time commitment with the men’s team. Trinity didn't provide sufficient funds for multiple full-time coaches or proper equipment for several years. Coach Libby Johnson had a budget of $100 (for all sports except tennis) when she was hired in 1972, but had a budget of $35,000 when she left in 1980.
It took two team wins at the USLTA (United States Lawn Tennis Association) championship and a meeting with the athletic council for the women's tennis team to receive official university recognition in 1971. Even then, this recognition only granted them a part-time coach. The women’s tennis team only received an equal number of scholarships to the men’s team, 8, after winning their fourth national championship in 1975.
Alison Taylor, class of 1977, discusses her experiences as a student athlete on both the basketball and softball teams. She saw little change in how women’s sports were treated across campus, including facilities and uniforms. They wore the same uniforms for basketball, softball, and volleyball. Taylor came to Trinity in 1973 and graduated in 1977, so she came in during the transition period where schools were supposed to comply with Title IX requirements (by July 21st, 1978). She noticed changes when Peggy Kokernot Kaplan began the women’s track team and it gained traction. Though enjoyable to Taylor, there seemed to be little difference between intramurals and women’s intercollegiate athletics in coaching or respect. Click here for her oral history quote.
Though many interviewees didn’t recognize the injustices as students, Sally Goldschmeding Branch, class of 1968, did. In 1967, Goldschmeding Branch snuck out of her dorm—students weren’t allowed out of the dorms until 7am—and took a bus to Belton to compete in a tennis tournament. Paying out of her own pocket and without recognition, Goldschmeding Branch simply wanted to play the game she loved. Though she recognized the disparities between men’s and women’s tennis teams, she didn’t reach out to Coach Mabry because she thought Shirley Rushing Poteet, P.E. administrator, had the authority and administrative experience to ask him to coach the women and simply chose not to. Several years later, a University committee recognized the disparities between men's and women's teams and urged for more funding, so that the women could compete on the same level.