These golden years

 yearlong jubilee to celebrate the first half century of women’s athletics at SCU.

When the students who work in the Alumni Office during their time on campus are ready to graduate, we always send them off with three pieces of advice:

* Keep your contact information current with the University.

* Write your thank-you notes.

* Honor those who have gone before you, because anything we accomplish is possible only because of the courage, commitment, and perseverance of those who went first.

These words ring especially true this fall as the University begins a yearlong celebration of the 50th Anniversary of Women’s Athletics.

Santa Clara first admitted undergraduate women in the fall of 1961. Two years later, Marygrace Colby M.A. ’91 was hired as the first female athletics administrator. By 1964, Santa Clara had organized competitive women’s teams in basketball, volleyball, and tennis. Those first 30 female student-athletes braved hardships and challenges daily without scholarships or program funding, just because they loved to play. They also had success as the basketball team went undefeated in their first two years and won the school’s first women’s athletics trophy.


The University now fields 10 teams with 173 women competing at the intercollegiate level and almost 60 percent receiving some athletically related financial aid. Accomplishments over the past 50 years include one national championship, 11 NCAA Final Four appearances, 24 conference championships, 52 All-Americans, and five Academic All-Americans.

Along the way, Jody Berscheidt ’66 became the first woman inducted into the Santa Clara Athletic Hall of Fame for her prowess in tennis, basketball, and volleyball. Tennis player Darby Teichgraeber Cunning ’77 received the first women’s athletic scholarship, in the amount of $500.

In 1988, Caren Choppelas Horstmeyer ’84 made history as the first former female student-athlete to work full-time for the athletics department when she was named head coach of the women’s basketball team. In that role, Horstmeyer led her 1991 basketball team to the Women’s National Invitation Tournament title. The women’s soccer team won the University’s first outright NCAA national championship in 2001. And just five years ago, cross-country runner Noelle Lopez ’08 became the first female Rhodes scholar in school history, and only the second SCU student to be so honored.

In all, more than 2,500 women have proudly donned a Bronco uniform while representing Santa Clara on the court, field, track, or course. Some have achieved regional, national, and international recognition. Some  have played professionally in their chosen sports. But most alumnae leave the University with lifelong experiences, relationships, and memories that shape who they are and what they become.


To mark the golden anniversary of women’s athletics at Santa Clara, I ask you to heed the same advice we give our graduating seniors: Keep your contact information current with the University:

* Keep your contact information current with the University: Stay up to date with Santa Clara classmates, news, and events by updating your personal and professional contact

* Write your thank-you notes: Take a moment to visit the 50th Anniversary of Women’s Athletics website to read more history, meet the athletes, and post your own stories and notes of gratitude:

* Honor those who have gone before you. Plan on attending one of the many matches and events scheduled throughout the year to cheer on our current Bronco teams and celebrate 50 years of women’s athletics. And if you’re a former student-athlete, you should have already received a special invitation to the privileges and celebrations awaiting you this year.

As a former women’s soccer player, I know my Santa Clara athletic experience was possible only because of those who blazed the trail before me. At work and at home, I’m grateful every day for the friendships, toughness, tenderness, and leadership lessons forged on the pitch and in the locker room. And I hope the footprints my teammates and I left on the fields of Stanton and Bellomy in some small way helped those who came after us. Whether you were a student-athlete or cheered on a fellow Bronco who was, I invite you to join me this year in honoring all those whose courage, commitment, and perseverance during the last five decades have made an inclusive, coeducational Santa Clara athletic experience possible.

Go Broncos!

Kathryn Kale ’86 
Assistant Vice President for Alumni Relations

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