Women's Athletics

At Old Dominion University, "builders of community and dreams" have always been especially visible with field hockey and women's basketball, two of the most highly successful programs in the nation. The sense of community among players and coaches is obvious to the fans as they are brought into that community. Fulfilling dreams for younger girls is an important outcome of the women's athletics program at ODU.

The following are some Highlights of the Women's Athletics program at ODU. 
(from Sweeney and Brydges histories)


Donna Doyle Star Forward

1950s photo - Donna Doyle was the star forward on the women's basketball team

1930s -

  • A women's basketball team was organized - the "Squaws."
  • Margaret Holman was hired (1936) to diversify the women's athletics program with badminton, fencing, basketball, swimming, ping-pong, field hockey, archery and tennis.

1940s -

  • Women's athletics developed slowly, with field hockey and basketball continuing .

1950s -

  • Women's athletics was primarily at the intramural level. Only field hockey and basketball were played in intercollegiate competition.
  • Donna Doyle was named most outstanding female athlete at the Norfolk Division (1955).
  • The basketball "Bravettes" were led by Donna Doyle - undefeated in 5 games.

Donna Doyle Smith

  • Named "most outstanding female athlete" at the Norfolk Division in 1955. She excelled in basketball, field hockey, tennis and golf.
  • First female physical education graduate in 1958.
  • The Donna Doyle Smith Athletic Scholarship Fund was the first athletic scholarship offered to women in 1975. It gives assistance to female athletes in all women's sports at the university.


  • While men's sports in the 1960s enjoyed great success, women's athletics were not a high priority.
  • Field hockey was the only sport played on an intercollegiate basis.
  • A swimming team was organized in 1965, won 5 of 6 meets, and finished 3 rd in the state meet in 1967.
  • In 1967-68, basketball was resumed as an intercollegiate sport -- the "Princesses" were coached by Mary Jackson. They held a 10-1 record in the 1968-69 season.

Read an excerpt from an oral history interview with Emily V.Pittman in 1976. Ms. Pittman was Chairman of the Women's Physical Education Department and Coach for women's field hockey, basketball and tennis from 1950-1976. She didn't "think the overall objective of women is to be terribly outstanding in athletics."

Coach Marianne Stanley


Women's Basketball Head Coach, 1977-1987

  • Led Lady Monarchs to three national titles and one National Women's Invitational Tournament title
  • Named National Coach of the Year in 1978-79
  • Stanley coached four Kodak All-Americans while at ODU: Nancy Lieberman, Anne Donovan, Inge Nissen, and Medina Dixon


  • Beth Anders was hired as field hockey coach in 1980. She became one of the all-time top NCAA coaches with nine national championships.
  • The field hockey team captured its first NCAA crown.
  • In 1983, Yogi Hightower became the first African-American to win the Honda Award as national player of the year in women's field hockey. She and Mary Beth Holder were the first All-Americans and both later chosen for the Olympic team.
Article: Ladies capture 2nd national title

Mace & Crown, Mar. 24, 1980

  • n 1984, women's cross country became a varsity sport.
  • Women sailors won their second national title in 1987. Flurry Norman was ODU's first three-time women's sailing All-American.
  • The Lady Monarchs basketball team won the Sun Belt Championship and reached the Final Four (1982-83). They won the NCAA national basketball championship in 1985.
  • In 1987, Wendy Larry became the women's basketball head coach. Her teams have participated in 17 NCAA tournaments and won 14 consecutive conference titles, beginning in 1992.
  • Old Dominion hosted the first two women's basketball Final Four tournaments, in both 1982 and 1983.


  • Sue Stahl was named head coach for lacrosse in 1991 and was named coach of the year for 1993. She was the U.S. National Team head coach from 1988 to 2005. In 1995, the lacrosse team won the CAA title.
Sue Stahl

Sue Stahl

Women's Lacrosse Head Coach, 1991-present

  • Under Stahl's tutelage, the lacrosse team has captured a CAA Tournament Title and a regular season title
  • Stahl has won a CAA Coach of the Year award and an International Federation of Women's Lacrosse Association Award
  • Stahl has served as the head coach of the U.S. National Lacrosse Team
  • As a player, Stahl played on the U.S. National and Olympic Teams.
Field hockey team celebrates its 8th national championship

Field hockey team celebrates its 8th National Championship

  • Women's soccer was added in 1993. The soccer team was the top seed in the CAA tournament in 1999, with Jen Henley an All-American.
  • All members of both the women's cross country team and tennis team were named Academic All-Americans in 1999. Mary Kay Bolduc of swimming was CAA's first ever four-time athlete of the year.
  • Tennis player Tzipi Obziler became ODU's first national tennis player in Intercollegiate Tennis Association.
  • The field hockey team won its eighth NCAA crown in 1998. Beth Anders was coach of the year for the fourth time.
  • The Lady Monarchs made it to the basketball NCAA regionals, the Sweet 16 tournament (1996), and the Final Four (1997).
  • Ticha Penicheiro and Clarisse Machanguana were named All-Americans and Wendy Larry was national coach of the year in 1997.
  • Ticha was named Wade/Lifetime TV national top college senior.
  • By the 1999/2000 season, the basketball team had won 64 successive conference games in a row, losing only 1 conference game in 7 years. Wendy Larry had the most wins of any basketball coach in ODU's history.
  • Sports Illustrated for Women listed the ODU women's athletic program in the top 20 list of best schools for women athletes.