It is about time for March Madness to begin and collegiate sports fans everywhere will be rooting for their favorite teams, their alma maters, or their favorite underdog. In the spirit of sports and keeping in line with Women’s History Month we are highlighting notable women athletes who graduated from MSIs.
1.) Misty May Treanor – California State University, Long Beach
Misty May Treanor is a retired American professional beach volleyball player. She is a three-time Olympic gold medalist, and as of August 2012 the most successful female beach volleyball player with 112 individual championship wins in domestic and international competition. Misty May Treanor and teammate Kerri Walsh Jennings were the gold medalists in beach volleyball at the 2004, 2008, and 2012 Summer Olympics. Together, May Treanor and Walsh Jennings are considered the greatest beach volleyball team of all time. May Treanor retired from competitive play on August 8, 2012 after she and Walsh Jennings finished first in the 2012 Summer Olympic games; they defeated the United States team of Jennifer Kessy and April Ross in the gold medal match.
2.) Wilma Rudolph – Tennessee State University
Born premature on June 23, 1940, in St. Bethlehem, Tennessee, Wilma Rudolph was a sickly child who had to wear a brace on her left leg. She overcame her disabilities through physical therapy and hard work, and went on to become a gifted runner. Rudolph became the first American woman to win three gold medals at a single Olympics in 1960, at the Summer Games in Rome, and later worked as a teacher and track coach. She passed away in Tennessee in 1994.
3.) Althea Gibson – Florida A&M University
Trailblazing athlete Althea Gibson became the first great African American player in women’s tennis. Raised primarily in Harlem section of New York City, she won a string of American Tennis Association titles on the African American circuit. After being allowed entry to the major tournaments, she became the first black player to win Wimbledon and the French and U.S. Open titles. Gibson turned professional in 1959, and made more history by becoming the first African-American competitor on the women’s pro golf tour in the 1960s. She was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1971, and later served as Commissioner of Athletics for the state of New Jersey.
4.) Cheryl Miller – University of Southern California
Cheryl Miller is currently the women’s basketball coach at Langston University and a former college basketball player and sportscaster for TNT. She is currently a sideline reporter for NBA games on TNT Sports and also works for NBA TV as a reporter and analyst having worked previously as a sportscaster for ABC Sports, TBS Sports and ESPN. She was also head coach and General Manager of the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury. In 1995, Miller was enshrined in the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Massachusetts. In 1999, she was inducted into the inaugural class of the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame, located in Knoxville, Tennessee. On August 20, 2010, Miller was also inducted into the FIBA Hall of Fame for her success in international play.
5.) Victoria Manolo Draves – City College of San Francisco
Victoria Manolo Draves was an Olympic diver who won gold medals for the United States in both platform and springboard diving in the 1948 Summer Olympics in London. Draves became the first woman to be awarded gold medals for both the ten-meter platform and the three-meter springboard. Additionally, Draves was the first American woman to win two gold medals in diving. She was born in San Francisco. Prior to competing in the 1948 Olympics, Draves won five U.S. diving championships. Draves turned professional after the Olympics, joining Larry Crosby’s “Rhapsody in Swimtime” aquatic show at Soldier Field in Chicago in 1948. She went on to appear in other shows and toured the U.S. and Europe with Buster Crabbe’s “Aqua Parade.” She was elected to the International Swimming Hall of Fame in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, in 1969.
6.) Flora “Flo” Hyman – University of Houston
Flora Jean Hyman was born in Inglewood, California, to George W. Hyman, a railroad janitor and supervisor, and Warrene Hyman, the owner of the Pink Kitty Café. In 1974, University of Houston volleyball coach Ruth N. Nelson awarded Hyman the first athletic scholarship ever awarded to a woman at the college; Hyman characteristically refused to accept the full amount of the award so that some of her teammates might also benefit. In 1977, after being acclaimed the nation’s top collegiate player and one of the world’s outstanding players, Hyman decided to forego her senior year to practice and play full-time for the U.S. national team in preparation for the 1980 Olympics. Buoyed by corporate sponsorship and the patriotic fervor that accompanied the 1984 Olympics in her hometown of Los Angeles, Hyman led the U.S. women to unprecedented public acclaim and a silver medal. She was inducted into the Volleyball Hall of Fame in 1988 and named by USA Volleyball as the MVP for the years 1978 – 2002. She was also the first woman admitted to the University of Houston’s Hall of Honor in 1998.
7.) Janet Evans – University of Southern California
Janet Evans is likely the greatest female long-distance swimmer of all time. She first came to prominence at the 1986 Goodwill Games, and she entered the 1988 Olympics as the world record holder in the 400 meters, 800 meters, and 1,500 meters. She did not disappoint, improving her own world record in winning the 400 meters in addition to taking gold medals in the 800 meters and the 400 meters individual medley. On her second Olympic appearance in 1992 she successfully defended her 800 meters title but suffered her first defeat in the 400 meters since 1986 when she placed second. Her greatest years were from 1987-89, when she set two world records over 400 meters, two at 800 meters, and two at 1,500 meters. Between 1986 and 1995 she won 25 of 27 major international races over 400 meters and 22 of 23 over 800 meters. Evans’s world records for the 800, and 1,500 meters freestyle events were not bettered for 20 years, and her 400 meters world record was only broken in 2006.
8.) Alice Coachman – Albany State University
Born in Albany, Georgia, on November 9, 1923, Alice Coachman made history at the 1948 Olympics in London when she leapt to a record-breaking height of 5 feet, 6 and 1/8 inches in the high jump finals to become the first black woman to win an Olympic gold medal. She went on to support young athletes and older, retired Olympic veterans through the Alice Coachman Track and Field Foundation.
9.) Willye White – Chicago State University
Willye White first competed in the Olympic Games in 1956 at Melbourne when she was only a 16-year-old high school sophomore. Despite her youth, she won a silver medal in the long jump behind Poland’s Elżbieta Krzesińska. She also competed in the long jump at the 1960, 1964, 1968, and 1972 Olympics, where she made the finals each time. White’s 19-11¾ long jump, which won her 1956 silver medal, was a US national record. She eventually set seven USA records in the long jump, her last being 21-6 (6.55) in 1964, a mark which stood until 1972. In her career, she won 13 national indoor and outdoor titles, and competed on 34 international teams, including the 1959, 1963, 1967, and 1971 Pan American teams for the United States. There she won gold in 1963 and bronze in 1959 and 1967 long jump. At the 1963 Pan American Games she also won gold with the 4×100 meters team.
10.) Dominique Dawes – University of Maryland College Park
Born on November 20, 1976, in Silver Spring, Maryland, Dominique Dawes began taking gymnastics lessons at age 6. She participated in the Olympic Games as part of the U.S. women’s gymnastics team in 1992, 1996 and 2000, winning a team medal each time. In 1996, Dawes’s team won Olympic gold and Dawes won an individual bronze medal—becoming the first African American to win an individual Olympic medal in women’s gymnastics. She retired from gymnastics after the 2000 Games.