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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, August 26, 2001

Ferd Lewis
Stunning growth, but more to do

 • The roots of an athletic revolution
 • The '70s: Wahine born of tears and dreams

By Ferd Lewis
Advertiser Columnist

Picture, if you can, a fall sports season without University of Hawai'i Wahine volleyball.

Try and imagine a year without Wahine basketball, softball . . .

Or, conjure up visions of a Stan Sheriff Center silent in September and October — and minus the four national championship banners swaying in the rafters.

The notion just doesn't compute as women's intercollegiate sports celebrates its 30th anniversary at UH. Given all that Wahine sports have come to mean, and as much a part of the athletic fabric as they have become, it is hard to believe that once upon a not-so-distant time there were none for women at UH.

A time, for instance, when the only woman receiving an athletic scholarship in 1972 was the drum majorette, and sweetbread sales financed the few grass roots club-level teams that existed.

Wahine sports have been such a visible and proud mainstay of UH athletics in particular and the Hawai'i sporting scene in general that it seems as though they have been with us as long as the lower campus quarry area they call home.

It seems there has always been a Robin Ah Mow, Nani Cockett, BJ Itoman, Judy Mosely, Brooke Wilkins or Tee Williams exciting imaginations and filling our television screens. And that they and many like them have been role models and become coaches for succeeding waves of girls who have followed in their footsteps.

Indeed, for years now, some athletes arrive at UH firm in the conviction that intercollegiate sports for women have, since the beginning of time, been part of the Manoa sporting landscape. That the Title IX era began right after the Paleozoic. That what is true now has always been and will forever remain the case.

"Some are surprised to find out it wasn't always that way," said Marilyn Moniz-Kaho'ohanohano, senior women's administrator and a former UH volleyball player (1972-'75). "They only know what they see now; they don't know the struggles that took place and all the growth that has occurred."

As women's participation in sports begins celebrating this milestone anniversary at UH, it is also time for reflection on what the program has meant and where it still has to go. It is an appropriate point from which to step back and marvel at the accomplishments while renewing the vision and commitment for the future.

At UH, progress has come in a series of fits and starts, often directly related to the closeness of the threat of legal action and the penalties under Title IX. Six sports were added between 1972 and '76, none from '76 until '85.

Now, there have been four more added in the last eight years, demonstrated progress to be pointed to as the school moves toward the final year of a six-year gender equity plan.

But with women making up approximately 55 percent of the undergraduate enrollment but only 41 percent of the scholarship athletes, there is still more to be done on several fronts before women's athletics can be considered a full partner and fulfill its considerable promise.

Thirty years after Wahine athletics began in earnest on the Manoa campus, it is hard to picture a future with it achieving any less.