The evolution of women's basketball has a very strong heritage here at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh. This article will trace the roots of Women's Basketball through the transition between intramural and extramural competition, up to the introduction of intercollegiate sport.

Women hoopsters strike a pose, 1898-1899

According to the literature found in the Oshkosh Quiver Yearbook, the Women's Basketball team began in 1897 at the Oshkosh Normal School. Women would gather on Friday afternoons in the lower gymnasium and play basketball with an umpire officiating the match. It was considered by those who played the game as a rewarding experience; one that provided pleasant results. An unidentified young woman was quoted as saying "Only pleasant results come of basketball, such as gain of ten pounds, loss of headache in twenty minutes, grace unequaled, athletic ability, and practice in mending stockings and sewing up rips" (Quiver, 1897). For this extramural sport, many women all around Oshkosh would develop teams that would play outside the university but not outside the city limits due to lack of funding and transportation. In 1918, it was determined that women who showed excellence in their studies and participated in athletics would receive an "O", to mark their dedication to the university. It should be noted that the women's letter was smaller in size than the men's letter because the men were said to put in more practice and game time. During this era there was an evolution of the rules of women's basketball. Aside from today's traditional rules, women of the early to mid- 1900's were forced to limit the number of dribbles, play half court basketball and were kept from entering the lane on free throw attempts. These rules were developed because society felt that women could not withstand the physical and emotional pressure of competition. It was also a concern that jumping would be harmful to the female reproductive system if women participated in basketball. Surprisingly enough these rules were enforced for a number of years during the post- Depression and WWII era as well as through the 1950s.

In 1920, the Girls Athletic Association (GAA) was established for girls who had an interest in sports. In 1937 the GAA changed its name to the Women's Athletic Association (WAA). The GAA and the WAA helped to establish the foundation for influential groups like the Women's Recreation Association (WRA). In 1947, the WRA was developed to provide female students the opportunity to participate in organized athletic activities. Women were encouraged to participate even if they possessed little knowledge or proficiency of the sport. This provided women with a golden opportunity to see what was offered and what their capabilities were. The WRA had interest groups, which allowed women to compete with other WRA women from the surrounding schools. Essentially, the WRA helped to build the idea of conferences and intercollegiate competition for women.

With the entire framework built in the previous years it was no surprise that women's basketball would soon be considered an intercollegiate sport. With the support of the Federal Government and the establishment of Title IX, Women's Basketball was considered part of the WWIAC and was recognized as a university athletic team. It should be noted that with the establishment of Title IX, women's athletics received great resistance from society and administration.

In 1972, Dr. Carol Anhalt guided the newly recognized intercollegiate Women's Basketball team to a five-way tie for first place. Her success continued throughout the next 17 years as head basketball coach. During that time, Dr. Anhalt coached the Lady Titans to numerous state tournament appearances. It was common for Oshkosh to participate against scholarship schools; schools that are today referred to as Division I schools. It wasn't until 1980 that the NCAA regulated the conferences and established divisions (Anhalt, 1990).

Dr. Anhalt stated that she was coaching long before women's athletics was recognized by the WWIAC. Many women all around Wisconsin volunteered their personal time to coaching women's sports even with the opposition and resistance from society. In many cases female coaches were not given release time for their coaching time. In essence female coaches taught 12-15 college credits along with full coaching schedules for which they were not paid.

Carol Anhalt

The University of Wisconsin Oshkosh owes a great debt to these women like Coach Elizabeth Stoner, Coach Gaynell Neff, Phyllis Roney (Women's Physical Education Chair), Helen Briwa (Women's Athletic Director), Coach Carol Anhalt and all the other women who sacrificed their time to promote women's athletics. Through their dedication and perseverance female athletics had a solid foundation to grow on and develop into what we see today and for that, we thank them.
When Coach Anhalt retired as head coach she left behind a long legacy of success and pride in women's basketball. In 1989, Kathi Bennett took over as head coach. Coach Bennett was an All-Conference selection in the early 1980's as a guard for University of Wisconsin Stevens Point. Perhaps even then she realized the solid framework in which University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh women's basketball was developed. Kathi Bennett was the head coach for eight years and lead the Lady Titans to a 41 game winning streak and numerous tournament bids.
After leading the Titans to the NCAA Division III Championship, Coach Bennett left the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh to take on new challenges. As an assistant to Coach Bennett, Pam Ruder was able to step in as the new University of Wisconsin Oshkosh Women's Basketball coach. The winning tradition continues with Coach Ruder as it had for the past 25 years. In just two seasons Coach Ruder has compiled a record of 49-6. She has guided the Lady Titans to the NCAA Division III Tournament on two separate occasions and won the WIAC Championship in 1998 and 1999. Coach Ruder was named NCAA Division III Coach of the Year after the 1998 - 1999 basketball season.

1996 NCAA Division III Champion Titans

Interesting Facts about the Lady Titans

  • 1991-1996 - Lady Titans compiled a record of 138-25; made eight NCAA Division III tournament appearances; won one NCAA Division III championship; made two trips to the NCAA Division III Final Four; and won at least a share of seven WIAC titles.
  • 1996 - UW Oshkosh had the NCAA Division III Coach of the Year (Kathi Bennett) and Player of the Year in (Wendy Wangerin).
  • 1999 - NCAA Division III Coach of the Year (Pam Ruder).
  • Albee Hall has been the home of the UW Oshkosh women's basketball team since 1972. There the Titan's record is 185-35 since 1975.
  • Overall record in the 1990's: 204-38.
  • Only three losing seasons in 24 years (1980, 1984 and 1986).
  • 41-game winning streak from November 18, 1995 to December 30, 1996; 26-game winning streak from November 22, 1997 to March 13, 1998; 17-game winning streak from November 19, 1994 to January 28, 1995.
  • Coaching Record: Carol Anhalt, 186-100 (.650); Kathi Bennett, 171-40 (.787); Pam Ruder, 49-6(.891).

References

Anhalt, Carol. (March 24,1999). Personal interview of the history of Women's Basketball at UWO.

Noyes, E. and Herzing, T. (1998) Here to Serve; The First 100 Years of the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh.

Ruder, Pam. (March 2, 1999). Personal interview of Women's Basketball at UWO.

Timm, Kennan. (March 2,1999). Personal interview of Women's Basketball at UWO, primarily statistics.

The Quiver 1897, 1898, 1918, 1920, 1971,1972, and 1974.

Women's Basketball Program (1999). UWO Athletics Publication.