LVAIAW 38 Years Strong!

The history of the LVAIAW parallels the history of AIAW (Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women) and the Title IX movement. The AIAW was founded in 1971 to govern collegiate women’s athletics in the United States and to administer national championships. “The Association was one of the biggest stepping stones for women’s athletics on the collegiate level.” A year later on June 23, 1972, the Title IX law, now known as the Patsy T. Mink Equal Opportunity in Education Act, was enacted. Also coming into existence in the early 1970’s was the PAIAW (Philadelphia Association of Intercollegiate Athletics for Women), a group of dedicated college coaches, administrators, and physical educators who organized to support the AIAW, Title IX, and collegiate athletics for women in the Philadelphia region.

Attending those early PAIAW meetings were Betty Prince and Dawn Ketterman-Benner (Moravian College), Doris Hannon (Cedar Crest College), Bea Ramsey (Albright College), and Helene Hospodar (Muhlenberg College). These were the founders of the Lehigh Valley Association of Intercollegiate Athletics for Women in 1978: they based their association on the same principles as those of the AIAW and PAIAW.

After conflicts with the NCAA in the early 1980’s, the AIAW discontinued operation and most member schools continued their women’s athletics programs under the governance of the NCAA. During this time, Helen Bond (Lehigh University), Barbara Young (Lafayette College), and Betty Wesner (Kutztown University) encouraged their schools to join the LVAIAW. Albright College left the group in the early 1990’s and was replaced by Allentown College, now DeSales University. In the 1980’s and early 1990’s, Connie Kunda, Barbara Lipkin, Karen Adams, Pat Fisher, Tom Shirley, Gracia Perilli, and Mary Beth Spirk were key college administrators who made an impact on the LVAIAW. Today, Karen Adams, Gracia Perilli, and Mary Beth Spirk remain as administrators representing their respective institutions.

The LVAIAW bonded together to promote and strengthen athletics programming for women, to remain updated on current rules and regulations governing women’s sports, and to recognize the accomplishments of collegiate women student-athletes. The member colleges used to compete against each other at organized play-days, which later became tournaments. Outstanding senior athletes at each school were awarded pewter plates at an awards luncheon at the end of the school year. 38 years later, the LVAIAW continues to
support gender equity in sports and to recognize outstanding athletes in cross country, field hockey, soccer, volleyball, basketball, swimming, lacrosse, tennis, softball, and track and field…and outstanding senior athletes from each member institution.