When FSU became a co-ed institution, the development of women’s athletics took a backseat to men’s varsity sports. While sports clubs like F Club, Tarpon Club, and Gymkana gave women athletes a place to strut their stuff, there was nowhere for them to compete in an intercollegiate setting.
It wasn’t until 1968 when FSU’s volleyball team started to shed its club roots and by 1971, was a full fledged team that made its debut at the AIAW National Tournament. Dr. Billie Jones became the permanent coach until 1975, and led the team to a 107-22 record, cementing FSU Volleyball as a mainstay. Historically, volleyball has been one of the most popular sports at Florida State, being a primary event of Odd-Even competitions, so it’s only appropriate that it would become FSU’s first women’s intercollegiate team. Under the coaching of Cecile Reynaud and Chris Poole, the team has won 4 ACC titles and has played in the NCAA tournament 17 times.
Softball is another sport that grew out of a long history at Florida State. Often played at Odds-Events events, it has become one of the most dominant teams in collegiate softball. Helmed by JoAnne Graff from 1979-2008, the team was propelled into success and has competed in the Women’s College World Series 9 times and maintains the highest winning percentage in the ACC. Under new head coach Lonni Alameda, FSU Softball continues its steak of excellence.
Basketball has perhaps been the most popular sport among women athletes over Florida State’s long history. Starting in 1912, FSCW held a basketball game as part of its Thanksgiving weekend events. The popularity of the annual game became a frenzy, and the school decided to add more events to the Thanksgiving program. The popularity of women’s basketball has continued over its 47 seasons as a varsity squad. Officially established in 1970, Women’s basketball has been on of FSU’s most successful teams. The women’s cagers have played in the NCAA/AIAW tournament fifteen times, and has won the regular season conference title three times and the conference title once.
FSU women athletes have excelled in many other sports, too – track and field, swimming, golf, and soccer, just to name a few. With the support of many women, FSU women’s athletics has been able to grow into the powerhouse it is today.
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I played varsity softball for FSU with Joanne Graff way back in the early ’70s. Have watched the success with pride since then.