Progress, growth, improvement.
We love to see that, and that’s one reason I was a laughing, crying, jumping-up-and-down mess when Wichita State University won the women’s basketball Missouri Valley Conference Tournament in St. Charles recently.
Part of the happy dance was the joy I felt for Jazimen Gordon. I have been her mentor for four years, which allowed me to witness her progress as she grew into a fantastic young woman who not only is a heck of a basketball player and a good student, but a caring, funny human being. I’ve been lucky to get to know other team members and watch them as they matured under the guidance of coach Jody Adams and her staff and their mentors.
Sitting in the front row behind the WSU bench, I looked at the WSU fans who traveled to St. Charles, Mo., to support our team. I recalled counting the spectators at a women’s game in Henry Levitt Arena in 1976. Fourteen. And that included me, who at the time was assistant to the women’s athletic director, and Joe Banks, who was in charge of the arena. The camera man from a local television station would have made 15, but he was there only about 30 seconds.
Progress, growth and certainly improvement were evident as I thought of how in 1977 Natasha Fife, the late John Hansan, Sue Bair and I brainstormed about hosting a tournament at Wichita State. Finally the money was raised (much of it $100 at a time), the teams were invited, and we had ourselves a tournament. Later it became the Pizza Hut Classic.
Women’s sports has come a long way.
Those of us who love watching women’s basketball, volleyball, softball, tennis and track still see inequities, but we have to remember that 400 or more frequent fans at a game, match or meet is a whole lot better than 14. These women practice hard, train hard and play hard. They manage school schedules, their sports schedules — and they make time to do good things for this community. They deserve our support because they’ve progressed, grown and improved. And yes, we do love to see that.