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Women at ODU : Builders of Communities & Dreams
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At Old Dominion University, "builders of community and dreams" have always been especially visible with field hockey and women's basketball, two of the most highly successful programs in the nation. The sense of community among players and coaches is obvious to the fans as they are brought into that community. Fulfilling dreams for younger girls is an important outcome of the women's athletics program at ODU.

The following are some Highlights of the Women's Athletics program at ODU.
(from Sweeney and Brydges histories)

1930s-- 1940s -- 1950s -- 1960s -- 1970s -- 1980s -- 1990s - 2000s

1930s -

  • A women's basketball team was organized - the "Squaws."
  • Margaret Holman was hired (1936) to diversify the women's athletics program with badminton, fencing, basketball, swimming, ping-pong, field hockey, archery and tennis.

Donna Doyle, basketball 1950s
1950s photo - Donna Doyle was the star forward on the women's basketball team

1940s -

  • Women's athletics developed slowly, with field hockey and basketball continuing .

1950s -

  • Women's athletics was primarily at the intramural level. Only field hockey and basketball were played in intercollegiate competition.
  • Donna Doyle was named most outstanding female athlete at the Norfolk Division (1955).
  • The basketball "Bravettes" were led by Donna Doyle - undefeated in 5 games.

Women's Field Hockey 1956-57
Women's Field Hockey Team 1950s
Front row: Betty Hoggard, Patsy Norman, Carol Jean Kaufman, Mary Ann Hutchinson, Margaret Hutchinson.
Back Row: Miss Emily Pittman, Coach, Virginia Miller, Phyliss Mehard, Donna Doyle, Ida McMath, Connie Rowe, Linda Myers, Pat Vincent, and Claudette Wittemore.

1950s Women's Field Hockey
Team in action.

1950s basketball team
Women's Basketball Team 1950's
First Row: Janice Clark, Kathy Klack, Mary Elizabeth McDow, Nancy Clendenon.
Second Row: Emily Pittman, coach, Mary Lou Shaffer, Celeste Hensley, Robbie Patterson, Jolly Harrison, Beverly Johnson, Barbara Barker, manager.

Donna Doyle Smith

  • Named "most outstanding female athlete" at the Norfolk Division in 1955. She excelled in basketball, field hockey, tennis and golf.
  • First female physical education graduate in 1958.
  • The Donna Doyle Smith Athletic Scholarship Fund was the first athletic scholarship offered to women in 1975. It gives assistance to female athletes in all women's sports at the university.


  • While men's sports in the 1960s enjoyed great success, women's athletics were not a high priority.
  • Field hockey was the only sport played on an intercollegiate basis.
  • A swimming team was organized in 1965, won 5 of 6 meets, and finished 3 rd in the state meet in 1967.
  • In 1967-68, basketball was resumed as an intercollegiate sport -- the "Princesses" were coached by Mary Jackson. They held a 10-1 record in the 1968-69 season.

Mary Fleet Sutton
Mary Fleet Sutton

Nancy Lieberman
Nancy Lieberman

Mace & Crown, April 2, 1979

Women's Basketball 1970's: Kneeling: Sue Brown, Sandy Burke, Debbie Richard, Sue Davy, Beth Campbell, Fran Clemente. Standing: Coach Marianne Stanley, Nancy Lieberman, Jan Trombly, Sue Richardson, Inge Nissen, Linda Jerome, Chris Critelli, Rhonda Rompola, Angela Cotman, Assistant Jerry Busone


Read an excerpt from an oral history interview with Emily V.Pittman in 1976. Ms. Pittman was Chairman of the Women's Physical Education Department and Coach for women's field hockey, basketball and tennis from 1950-1976. She didn't "think the overall objective of women is to be terribly outstanding in athletics."

  • Mary Fleet , a swimmer, was the only woman ever to compete for an Old Dominion's men's team. She was ODU's most outstanding female swimmer for four years straight and an All-American.
  • In an effort to provide gender equality in athletics, Athletic Director Dr. James Jarrett initiated athletic scholarships for women in 1974, becoming the first institution in Virginia to do so, and among the first in the nation.
  • ODU attained Division I status in the NCAA in 1976.
  • Under Pam Parsons, the "Lady Monarchs" basketball team had winning seasons.
  • In 1976-77, they won 23 of 32 games, won the state championship, and played in the National Women's Invitational Tournament (NWIT).
  • A comprehensive athletic program, developed by Jim Jarrett in 1975, included more support for women's athletics. Women's basketball was designated a high priority sport that would receive full support.
  • All-American Nancy Lieberman played on the U.S. Women's Olympic Team in 1976, winning the silver medal. She was national player of the year for 1978-79.
  • Marianne Stanley, former all American player, became coach of the Lady Monarchs in 1977 and led them to an NWIT title and an AIAW championship in 1979 and 1980. She was named National Coach of the Year for 1978-79.
  • The Lady Monarchs became the foremost team in women's intercollegiate basketball with four All-Americans: Nancy Lieberman, Anne Donovan, Inge Nissen, and Medina Dixon.

Mace & Crown, June 20, 1977

Mace & Crown, Oct. 30, 1979

Mace &Crown, Mar. 26, 1979

Marianne Stanley

NWIT Championship win 1979

Women's Basketball Head Coach, 1977-1987

  • Led Lady Monarchs to three national titles and one National Women's Invitational Tournament title
  • Named National Coach of the Year in 1978-79
  • Stanley coached four Kodak All-Americans while at ODU: Nancy Lieberman, Anne Donovan, Inge Nissen, and Medina Dixon


  • Beth Anders was hired as field hockey coach in 1980. She became one of the all-time top NCAA coaches with nine national championships.
  • The field hockey team captured its first NCAA crown.
  • In 1983, Yogi Hightower became the first African-American to win the Honda Award as national player of the year in women's field hockey. She and Mary Beth Holder were the first All-Americans and both later chosen for the Olympic team.

Mace & Crown, Dec. 2, 1982

Courier, Jan. 18, 1984

Women's Field Hockey Head Coach, 1980-present

  • A field hockey pioneer, both as a coach and player
  • As a player, Anders was a member of two Olympic teams and played on the United States National and World Cup teams
  • At ODU, Anders' teams have won nine national field hockey championships, the most in NCAA history
  • In 1998, she was named National Coach of the Year.

Photo from Athletics Web site.

Courier, Nov. 18, 1983

  • In 1984, women's cross country became a varsity sport.
  • Women sailors won their second national title in 1987. Flurry Norman was ODU's first three-time women's sailing All-American.
  • The Lady Monarchs basketball team won the Sun Belt Championship and reached the Final Four (1982-83). They won the NCAA national basketball championship in 1985.
  • In 1987, Wendy Larry became the women's basketball head coach. Her teams have participated in 17 NCAA tournaments and won 14 consecutive conference titles, beginning in 1992.
  • Old Dominion hosted the first two women's basketball Final Four tournaments, in both 1982 and 1983.

Mace & Crown, Mar. 24, 1980

Wendy Larry

Women's Basketball Head Coach, 1987-present

  • Played basketball as a student at ODU in the mid 1970s; team captain twice.
  • Became Head Coach of the women's basketball team in 1987 after Marianne Stanley resigned.
  • By 2000, she had won six Coach of the Year awards.
  • During her tenure, ODU has won an NCAA record setting 14 Colonial Athletic Association titles, participated in 17 NCAA tournaments, and accumulated over 400 victories.

Wendy Larry, 1979
The graduate assistant coach holds championship trophy and champagne


  • Sue Stahl was named head coach for lacrosse in 1991 and was named coach of the year for 1993. She was the U.S. National Team head coach from 1988 to 2005. In 1995, the lacrosse team won the CAA title.

Sue Stahl
from Brydges, p. 177

Sue Stahl
Women's Lacrosse Head Coach, 1991-present

  • Under Stahl's tutelage, the lacrosse team has captured a CAA Tournament Title and a regular season title
  • Stahl has won a CAA Coach of the Year award and an International Federation of Women's Lacrosse Association Award
  • Stahl has served as the head coach of the U.S. National Lacrosse Team
  • As a player, Stahl played on the U.S. National and Olympic Teams.
  • Women's soccer was added in 1993. The soccer team was the top seed in the CAA tournament in 1999, with Jen Henley an All-American.
  • All members of both the women's cross country team and tennis team were named Academic All-Americans in 1999. Mary Kay Bolduc of swimming was CAA's first ever four-time athlete of the year.
  • Tennis player Tzipi Obziler became ODU's first national tennis player in Intercollegiate Tennis Association.
  • The field hockey team won its eighth NCAA crown in 1998. Beth Anders was coach of the year for the fourth time.

Field hockey team celebrates its 8th National Championship

  • The Lady Monarchs made it to the basketball NCAA regionals, the Sweet 16 tournament (1996), and the Final Four (1997).
  • Ticha Penicheiro and Clarisse Machanguana were named All-Americans and Wendy Larry was national coach of the year in 1997.
  • Ticha was named Wade/Lifetime TV national top college senior.
  • By the 1999/2000 season, the basketball team had won 64 successive conference games in a row, losing only 1 conference game in 7 years. Wendy Larry had the most wins of any basketball coach in ODU's history.
  • Sports Illustrated for Women listed the ODU women's athletic program in the top 20 list of best schools for women athletes.

Wendy Larry at
basketball camp, 1995

Another CAA Championship win, 1990s

Basketball at the field house, 1990s.


  • The field hockey team won its ninth championship and reached the NCAA Final Four.
  • Marina DiGiacomo received the Honda Award and was NCAA all-time leading scorer.
  • In 2003, Anna Tunnicliffe became the first sailor ever to win back-to-back national titles. In 2004, she became a three-time All-American and three-time Intercollegiate Sailing Association North American Collegiate Singlehanded national champion.
  • Basketball's Lady Monarchs reached the NCAA Elite Eight in 2002 and continued to win CAA basketball championships. In 2005, they were honored by the city of Norfolk for their accomplishments.
  • The NCAA recognized the pioneering efforts of athletic director Jim Jarrett at the 2006 NCAA Women's Final Four, which also honored the 25 th anniversary of NCAA women's championships.

ODU wins their 15th straight CAA Title: 3/11/2006

Field Hockey Team Championship, 2000

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