IX AT 50: Margie McDonald pioneers Wyoming women’s hoops after stop in Kansas

Published: Apr. 28, 2022 at 11:03 PM CDT
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June 23, 1972, President Nixon signed Title IX into law, prohibiting sex discrimination in educational institutions that receive federal funding. Title IX has largely been considered the springboard for high school and collegiate women’s sports to get where they are today — but the fight for equality is far from over. Every Thursday night at 10:00 p.m. leading up to the 50th anniversary of the law’s passing, 13 Sports will honor the women who changed the game for girls’ and women’s sports in Kansas.

“IX at 50: The Trailblazers of Women’s Sports in Kansas”

TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - The year was 1961.

Women still played three-on-three basketball, and only the rover was allowed to cross half court.

That was Margie McDonald’s specialty.

“You had two defenders, two offense. And then two likes, almost like point guards that go across the lane,” McDonald said.

She starred on the now-Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame-inducted Wayland Baptist team, and was named an All-American her senior year of college.

“I got to go with the USA women’s basketball team to the world tournament in Lima, Peru,” she said.

In 1968, she and her husband landed in Manhattan, Kansas.

“One of the PE teachers there said, ‘We need a coach for volleyball,’” she remembered. “And I said, ‘Okay.’ I had to go to the library to get the rules for volleyball. I had no idea.”

The AIAW was still three years from forming — but McDonald learned the game and took her teams to in-state “play days.”

“It was a good experience,” she said. “I got to know some really good people and the players were very appreciative of what was going on.”

In 1974, McDonald headed west to the University of Wyoming.

“One of my proudest moments, I got to give the first scholar athletic scholarship to a woman at the University of Wyoming,” she said.

She coached basketball for nine seasons, before stepping into roles as the commissioner of the High Country Athletics Conference, deputy commissioner of the Western Athletic Conference, and coordinator of women’s basketball officials for the Mountain West Conference. Later in her career, she did color on the radio for Wyoming women’s hoops.

All of it, she says, was bigger than just sports.

“It wasn’t something I was planning. It was something that had to be done,” she said. “At the time, and at the moment I had no idea that what we were doing would be that influential. You just fight each day, every battle. It was one day at a time.”

“It gives us a chance to find out exactly who we are,” she continued. “We don’t have to worry about whether we can do this or do that. Maybe I wanna be a doctor. Maybe she wants to be a vet. Back then that wasn’t really - but sports put the whole society on the ring that women can do whatever they want. I think sports did. Now, people will argue with me, but I really think that sports had a major impact on moving women forward to where we are today and not just athletes, but anything they wanna be.”

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