Marlene Mawson to Receive 2012 Pioneer Woman Award

April 3, 2012

LAWRENCE, Kan. – Marlene Mawson, known as the “Mother of KU Women’s Athletics,” is receiving the 2012 Pioneer Woman Award during the annual Women’s Recognition Program Tuesday night.

The 2012 Pioneer Woman Award honors Mawson, who was a professor and administrator at KU for 22 years, beginning in 1968, with the added responsibility of initiating an intercollegiate women’s sports program sponsored by the KU Physical Education Department. The program began with six sports on an annual budget of $2,000, which covered expenses for sports equipment, uniforms and travel. Besides directing the program and teaching full time, Mawson coached basketball, volleyball, softball and field hockey.

During the early years of the University of Kansas women’s athletics program, Dr. Mawson played a prominent role and has affectionately been called the “Mother of KU Women’s Athletics.” After she came to Kansas in the Fall of 1968, her many roles included head coach of the volleyball (1968-70 and 1972-74), basketball (1968-71), softball (1968-70), tennis (1971) and field hockey (1969-71) teams; and full-time instructor/assistant professor in Physical Education. She served as the first Women’s Athletics Director (Fall 1968 to Spring 1971) at KU, and was the Director of the 2nd National Division of Girls and Women’s Sports (DGWS) Volleyball Championships at KU in 1971.

She was the first Kansas Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (KAIAW) President from 1969-70, which was formed by interested women representatives from the colleges and universities in the state of Kansas.

After Dr. Mawson finished coaching at KU, she continued to support women’s athletics as the KU representative to the Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (AIAW) for eleven years (from 1971 until the NCAA began administering women’s championships in 1981) while she was an Associate Professor on campus.

Dr. Marlene Mawson was inducted into the Kansas Athletics Hall of Fame as part of the 40th anniversary celebration of women’s sports at KU on Feb. 28, 2009.

The Kansas Athletics department has an annual award named in Mawson’s honor, with the most recent recipient being track and field’s Rebeka Stowe, who is also being named an Outstanding Woman in Athletics at Tuesday night’s event.

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