Celebrating groundbreaking Buckeye student-athletes and staff.
Celebrating five decades of supporting and empowering women of Ohio State Athletics to excel as champions academically, athletically, personally, and professionally.
Celebrating groundbreaking Buckeye student-athletes and staff.
A look through prominent female pioneers in Ohio State athletics history, starting with the first class of women inducted into the hall of fame. Check back each week as more figures are highlighted.
Phyllis Bailey championed women’s athletics during her 39-year career at Ohio State. In 1965, she helped elevate women’s athletics from their intramural status to establish the first and largest women’s intercollegiate athletic program in the Big Ten. Bailey served as the first administrator over women’s athletics and coached the women’s basketball team for four years, leading them to a 28-10 record. Bailey will always be known as a coach, teacher, mentor, role-model and pioneer.
Hurdler Stephanie Hightower was a four-time All-American and 15-time Big Ten Champion. She was undefeated in four years of Big Ten competition. While at Ohio State, Hightower also held 11 Big Ten and Ohio State records and set a new world record in the 60-yard hurdles. Hightower was a member of the 1980 US Olympic Team.
Four-time All-American Karen Josephson (pictured left) helped guide Ohio State to three National Championships. A two-time member of the US Olympic Team, Josephson won a Silver Medal at the 1988 Games and was a Gold Medalist in the duet competition in 1992. She was the 1985 USSSI Collegiate Athlete of the Year and a 1984 Academic all-Big Ten selection. Josephson also was a four-time OSU Scholar Athlete.
Four-time All-American Sarah Josephson (pictured right) helped guide Ohio State to three National Championships. A three-time member of the US Olympic Team, she earned a Silver Medal at the 1988 Games and was a Gold Medalist in the duet competition in 1992. She was a two-time USSSI National Solo Champion and a recipient of the Western Conference Medal of Honor. In 1984, Josephson was OSU’s Female Athlete of the Year and the USSSI Collegiate Athlete of the Year.
A team leader on Ohio State’s dominant women’s tennis teams of the late 1970s, LeAnn Grimes set school career records in both singles and doubles wins . She posted a 68-18 singles record and a 92-21 doubles mark during her outstanding career as Buckeye. Grimes was also an excellent student, earning scholar-athlete honors three straight years.
Three-sport star Barbara Wetters-Blosser competed in three national championship events in one year. A four-time Big Ten doubles champion, she was named to the 1971 Midwest Collegiate All-Star Field Hockey team. She also was captain of the basketball team as a freshman and sophomore. After leaving Ohio State, Wetters-Blosser served as an athletic administrator at William and Mary College.
Kim Jordan was a member of the Buckeye basketball squads that won two Big Ten and four OAISW Championships en-route to a four-year mark of 79-44. A starter in 121 games, Jordan served as co-captain her senior year and earned all-district honors in 1979. Jordan went on to coach at the collegiate level, including as head coach at Cornell.
A Springboro, Ohio native, Tucker led the Ohio State women’s basketball team to a 72-51 record during her career, and she finished as the school’s No. 2 all-time scorer with 1,629 points. As a senior, she led OSU to the Big Ten Tournament title and a trip to the first Women’s NCAA Championship.
The daughter of four-time Olympic diving champion, Pat McCormick, Kelly attended Ohio State before going on to win Olympic silver in 1984 and Olympic bronze in 1988. An 11-time US Champion, McCormick was also the 1983 and 1987 Pan American Games springboard gold medalist, and won the 1984 McDonald’s Diving Invitational, placing second in 1985.
A 1998 Hall of Fame inductee, Richter competed for the Buckeye fencing program from 1981-84. Highlighted by an All-American nod in 1982, Richter was a two-time NCAA qualifier in the women’s foil (1982, 1984) and the Big Ten women’s foil champion in 1983.
Regarded as Ohio State’s best field hockey player, Sue Marcellus is the only athlete in the program to have her number retired. While at OSU, she was the all-time leader in career goals (117), career points (254) and single-season points (82), earning All-America honors in 1977, 1978 and 1979. She was a member of the US National Team from 1977 to 1980 and member of the 1980 US Olympic Team.
Rosie Jones was always near the top of the leader board during her collegiate golf career. She won or finished second 14 times while at Ohio State. The 1981 All-American earned top-ten finishes in 10 of 11 tournaments as a senior, including a sixth place showing at the AIAW National Tournament. Jones won the 1980 Big Ten Championship and led the Buckeyes to Big Ten and MAIAW team titles from 1979 to 1981. After graduation, Jones played on the LPGA Tour and represented the United States at the Solheim Cup.
Donna Silber won a total of ten Big Ten Championships as a Buckeye. She won on the floor exercise, vault, balance beam and uneven bars. Silber-Berry won the all-around event three times. She was a three-time OAISW all-around champion and the 1980 MAIAW vaulting champion. A two-time OSU Scholar Athlete, Silber won the all-around competition against the Korean National Gymnastics Team her junior year.
The 2004 WCHA Student-Athlete of the Year, Emma Laaksonen helped build the foundation of the Ohio State women’s hockey program and is the first women’s hockey player to be inducted into the athletics hall of fame. The first Buckeye women’s hockey player All-American, earning second team honors in 2002, Laaksonen’s other career accomplishments include being a 2002 Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award Top 10 finalist and earning 2004 Second Team All-Western Collegiate Hockey Association honors. Notably, during the first home series of the 2008-09 season, her No. 3 was the first women’s hockey player number retired.
Megan Mirick is one of the most decorated OSU women’s lacrosse players in the program’s history. A four-year letterwinner, as a senior Mirick was the American Lacrosse Conference Player of the Year and the program’s first first-team All-American. She was also a finalist for the Ohio State University Lacrosse Player of the Century award. Mirick concluded her career with the most goals (143) in Ohio State history and second in career scoring (182). She also had the most goals (53) and third-most points (59) in a single season.
A 12-time All-American, Jessica Marshall won six individual national championships during her four years with the Buckeyes. In 2003 and 2004 she claimed the national titles in women’s air and sport pistol and two-gun aggregate. A four-year letter winner, she helped win the 2004 women’s national championship and was a part of four other national championships. As a senior she earned four All-America accolades, picking up three in both 2001 and ’03 and two in 2002. Marshall was a member of the USA Shooting Olympic Development team in 2003 and 2004 and was a member of the 2004 USA Shooting National Team.The 2004 Big Ten Conference Medal of Honor and the Corwin A. Fegus Memorial award recipient, she was a three-time team captain, a four-time Ohio State Scholar-Athlete and a three-time Academic All-Big Ten honoree. She earned a bachelor’s in psychology in 2004 and a master’s degree in public policy and management from the John Glenn School of Public Affairs in 2008.
A 1992 All-American she competed on U.S. National Team. A three-time OSU Scholar-Athlete and two-time Academic All-American. The 1991 National Champion, National Junior Champion and National Collegiate Champion. Earned 21 national records during her career. Won a gold medal at 1991 U.S. Olympic Festival. Guided team to second place finish in smallbore and third place overall finish at NCAA Championship.
Conny Kirsch helped the rowing team make OSU history by lifting the program to its first Big Ten championship in 2002. Kirsch was a part of the varsity eight boat that won the grand final and because of her efforts, she was named the Big Ten Co-Rower of the Year, the first in program history.
A four-year letterwinner, she was named the 2002 Touchdown Club/OSU Athlete of the Century for women’s soccer. Stranges earned Second Team All-America accolades in 1996 and was a four-time All-Big Ten honoree. She was a NSCAA Great Lakes Region First Team selection in 1996 and a second team pick in 199. A three-time MVP and two-time team captain, Stranges received Academic All-Big Ten accolades in 1995.
Although varsity sports didn’t exist for women in the 1920s, E. Temple Messer-Baker participated in track and field, baseball, soccer and field hockey while a student at Ohio State. In 1925, she competed in the first women’s intercollegiate track meet held in Ohio Stadium. After graduating with a degree in education, she went on to serve as a player, teacher and coach. She played on the American Field Hockey team, coached boys basketball and served as president of the Elk’s Ladies Golf Association.
Led OSU to the NCAA Regional and its first Big Ten Championship (1990). A third team All-American in 1991. Named first team All-Great Lakes Region in 1990 and 1991. A three-time Academic all-Big Ten and four-time OSU Scholar-Athlete Currently serves as an assistant coach for the Buckeyes.
Two-sport star Ann Emmencker was a five-time Big Ten medalist, winning the 50 and 100-yard freestyle in 1973 and 1975 and the 200-yard freestyle in 1974. She was also a member of the inaugural women’s golf team in 1976. After graduation, she served as a coach and administrator in high school athletics. Emmencker was named Ohio Coach of the Year three times during the 1980s.
Mary Ormsby, a 1980 all-Big Ten selection, served as team captain in 1979 and as co-captain in 1980. She led Ohio State to three OAISW titles and the 1979 MAIAW regional championship. The 1979 team posted a school record 37 wins. The two-time OSU Scholar-Athlete was also a member of the Canadian National Team in 1981. After leaving Ohio State, Ormsby pursued a journalism career for The Toronto Star, Canada’s largest newspaper.
In 1941, Ohio State makes history as it hosts the first women’s national collegiate golf championship on the Scarlet Course, made possible by the work of Gladys Palmer – then-chairwoman of the women’s division of the Physical Education Department – and the support of then-Director of Athletics Lynn St. John.
Led by pioneer head coach Phyllis Bailey, women’s basketball becomes a varsity sport in 1965.
In 1965, women’s swimming & diving joins the ranks as a varsity sport.
The academic year of 1970-71 marks the first year of varsity women’s tennis at Ohio State. In 2001, two-time Big Ten Player of the Year Kristy Dascoli and Monica Rincon become the Buckeyes’ first women’s tennis All-Americans.
In 1970, women’s gymnastics becomes a varsity program under head coach Kitty O’Brien. In just over a decade, the Buckeyes would go on to win five consecutive Big Ten championships under the helm of head coach Larry Cox.
Ohio State opens its first season of varsity women’s volleyball in 1971. Improving year-in and year-out, head coach Jim Stone (pictured) went on to help lead OSU to a program-record 27 consecutive wins en route to the first of two national semifinals under Stone.
In 1971, field hockey officially becomes a varsity sport at Ohio State with Mary Raysa serving as the first head coach of the program. Raysa guides the Buckeyes to an 11-8-4 record in the first two seasons.
Fifty years ago on June 23, 1972, the Education Amendments Act was signed into law by President Richard Nixon.
Title IX was subtle but dramatic, and intended or not, it “altered women’s sports forever,” wrote Maggie Mertens, in Sports Illustrated, earlier this spring.
Softball becomes a varsity sport at Ohio State in 1972, and with a decade the Buckeyes advance to their first AIAW College World Series in 1982.
Mary Jo Ruggiei becomes head coach of Ohio State in 1977 and leads the Buckeyes to four consecutive U.S. Collegiate Championship titles. During the Buckeyes inaugural year in 1977, eight Buckeyes earned All-America honors.
Eventual U.S. Olympian Stephanie Hightower earns six All-America honors and wins 14 Big Ten titles from 1977-80.
Although the first recorded season of fencing occurred in 1924, Ohio State University fencing reached new heights in the fall of 1980 when Charlotte Remenyik, who came to Ohio State to coach the women in 1978, made OSU history by becoming the first woman to coach a men’s varsity team—and as the first woman to coach both the men and the women concurrently.
Ten years after the Education and Amendments Act was signed into law, in 1981-82, the Big Ten Conference officially integrated women’s athletics into the conference, and the NCAA started sponsoring women’s national championships
Two Ohio State programs won Big Ten championships that first year: basketball, coached by Tara VanDerveer, and swimming and diving, coached by Jim Montrella and Vince Panzano (diving).
Just one year after becoming a varsity program, the women’s rowing team qualifies for the NCAA championships.
After becoming a varsity sport in 1993, Ohio State captured its first Big Ten tournament title in 2002.
Within six years of becoming a varsity sport, Ohio State earned its first berth into the NCAA Tournament.
Women’s hockey joins as a varsity sport with its inaugural season taking place during the 1999-2000 season. In 2002, Emma Laaksonen becomes Ohio State’s first women’s hockey Olympian, competing for her native Finland.