'Lost' Years Prove to be Best in Volleyball School History

June 24, 2010


Corvallis, Ore. 

Imagine current Oregon State volleyball players selling concessions at football and basketball games to raise money. Imagine each player having to sew her number onto the same shirt she used for a Physical Activity Class that day. Imagine a team having to fundraise to go to postseason.


This isn't so far off from what volleyball players at Oregon State had to do when the program first started in 1967 until Title IX passed in 1972. That same year Oregon State became a charter member of the Association of Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (AIAW).

They never planned on being trailblazers or pioneers in the sport of volleyball for Oregon State, but it just kind of happened. Instead, they simply wanted to participate in competitive athletics at the highest level in the nation.


All of our lives we had been watching the boys compete  watching our brothers, our friends, on the field and on the court, former player Mary Paczesniak said. We loved competitive athletics, but our opportunities were very limited, until we came to Oregon State.


Former head coach Sally Hunter fielded the first ever Oregon State volleyball team in 1967, which finished 8-3, and 8-5 in 1968, good to finish second at the Pacific Northwest Tournament. But it only took two seasons for things to click because during the 1969 season, the Beavers finished 21-0 during the regular season, winning the Pacific Northwest Championship and qualifying for the first ever National Intercollegiate Volleyball Tournament for women in Long Beach, Calif. The team would finish 23-3 overall (.884), advancing to the Sweet 16, and boasting the best record ever in school history.


With only one senior graduating from the 1969 class, the 1970 team knew that it had the potential of advancing even further. The Beavers were led by Paczesniak, Mary Bates, Linda Lewman, Patti Perkins, Aleen Swofford and Betty Woodward, who were all on the 1969 team, with Terry Paddon, Mary Pat Lydon and Kay Gahr joining the squad that season.


Oregon State finished runner-up at the Pacific Northwest Tournament, falling to the University of Oregon, but still earning a berth to the national tournament, held in Lawrence, Kan., that year. But instead of being funded to participate by Oregon State, as it had in 1969, the team was deemed not outstanding& and the university would not fund any part of the trip.



But that didn't stop the 12-member squad from raising the money to make the trip to Kansas. The team began selling See's suckers in the Memorial Union Building on campus, cleaned Parker Stadium (now Reser Stadium) after the spring football game, participated in a halftime exhibition at an Oregon State men's basketball game and sold tickets to a car wash.


We stood in the aisles of Gill Coliseum after the exhibition wearing borrowed gymnastics warm-up suits since the volleyball team didn't have sweats, and sold tickets to the next day's car wash Paczesniak said. We received over $400 in sold tickets and donations. Obviously a lot of Beaver boosters were sympathetic to our cause.


Additionally, the players looked to enlist the help of the newly acquired Portland Trailblazers, whose first year of existence was 1970-71, to help fundraise for their trip. Hunter called the Blazers asking if they were looking for halftime entertainment. Asked how much they would pay for halftime shows, the Blazers replied with $200, but that they'd pay $500 if the team wore bikinis.


This was before Title IX, before women's liberation, but we did have our dignity, so we just went back to selling our See's suckers, Paczesniak said. But once in Kansas, it all came together, and we were playing the best volleyball of our lives. We placed second to UCLA in our round robin pool, qualifying for the Elite 8, as did Oregon. We couldn't wait to get back home and tell the OSU Athletic Department that there were two outstanding volleyball teams in the state of Oregon.


But as the Kansas student helpers were filling out our certificates of participation, they discovered that our 10th and 11th best players had not been officially registered when the coach had entered the team in November. That caused the team to be disqualified and never had a chance to play the quarterfinal match.


Women athletes prior to Title IX played for the pure love of our sport and the love of competition,Paczesniak said. These teams we fielded in the late 1960's into the early 1970's were very special both in our athletic successes and in our relationships with one another. Our experiences were unique and exceptional and provided wonderful memories for all of us.


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