History of T-Bird Volleyball

By Jean Wheatley

 

After attending the Casper College Athletic Banquet, April 2009, one of my first year athletes, Kathy Davis, 1971, reminded me of our challenges for women's athletics 38 years before. Kathy and four teammates from Kelly Walsh High School came to Casper College as freshmen having just won the State Volleyball Tournament in 1970. Kathy and her teammates also played basketball – Casper College needed both teams, and we were ready to go.

I arrived at Casper College in 1966, when I was 29 years old, after having taught in Casper public schools. My husband, Stan, and I had three young pre-schoolers and I was ready to begin my life's dream career, as well as be a wife and mother. I always loved all activities and competition.

From 1966 to 1972 we had play days, inviting other colleges. This involved round-robin tournaments in volleyball and basketball, as well as participation in badminton, tennis, pool, and other recreational activities. I always felt cheerleaders were part of the overall athletic program. I sponsored and coached them for 27 years, with my assistant, and they were always the best!

Title IX came into effect in 1972 – equalization of opportunities for women in sport – or so we thought! What a struggle those first 20 years to develop women's athletics all over the country.

I began as the first volleyball and basketball coach at Casper College. I wanted to maintain leadership as the physical education department head, spend time with my young family and also be in a position to direct this awesome opportunity for women in athletics. What a challenge!

We used volunteer coaches and lots of help in the early years. Our men's basketball program was already a strength of Casper College and at the region and national levels. This was due to the dedication of coaches, administration, and a strong men's basketball sponsor program, the T-Bird Booster Club. The women joined Region IX in 1974 and Casper College had teams competing in volleyball, basketball, tennis, wrestling (NWC), and rodeo.

In 1976 the Wyoming Community College Athletic Association was formed. We were able to give many tuition waivers in the early years, but equality – no way!

The men had an established program, at times raising over $30,000 through the T-Bird Booster Club for scholarships for men. They had paid their dues and had the support of the best booster club in the nation. The women had to earn the same rights. The first 15 years were the most difficult. Casper College could stand on its own from 1968 to 1978 because, even though scholarships were not that available, our recruitment went well due to the academic reputation and the athletics reputation of the college.

A few of the other community colleges began recruiting better athletes by offering more scholarship money, but things were changing. I feel our toughest years were 1978 to 1988 for women's athletics to become equal at Casper College. We struggled to have our own "Boost-Her" Club, run fundraisers, and try to keep up with scholarships and recruitment. Women's athletics joined with the men's T-Bird Booster Club (finally!!) in 1988 or 1989.

Women's athletics could then see a much brighter future, although I felt it was still the responsibility of the institution to insure equality for women's athletics as well as men's athletics. We really got a boost when Gary Becker came in 1989. Women's athletics began to receive more scholarships, and the president and others helped at this time.

Bill Vance and I coached men's and women's tennis from 1974 to 1978. I coached both the men and women from 1978 to 1985. The teams represented Casper College at the national tournament for six years.

Other colleges in the region began dropping programs in the 1980's. By 1984, Northwestern Junior College, Laramie County Community College, Nebraska Western and Casper were the only full teams left in tennis in Region IX.

Wrestling did not last long at Casper College. Northwest College in Powell was the strong contender in wrestling. Our rifle and rodeo teams were always very strong. The gymnastics program at Casper College had strong leadership during these years.

We faced great changes in athletics in the '90's and as I retired in 1993, I was then and am still strongly in support of a fuller understanding of "equality" in all aspects of gender differentiation. During 1989 and 1990, we saw many coaching trends and women coaches are still decreasing in numbers today. Now it is 2009.

There was never any doubt in my mind that my first career choice would be sports and physical education. I was very fortunate to have the opportunity to give of my time and talents to the profession and career I loved most. It is up to those in the profession to make a difference and we must keep the standards high. I enjoyed working at the state, district and national level in our profession. There are many people to thank for giving me this experience and opportunity.

I am still captain of one of the three competitive tennis teams on which I play in Arizona. I also assist in the coaching of two other teams in a senior retirement park. The youngest student is 50 and the oldest is 94, it is great fun, they are active and love it.

A strong athletic program is a necessary component to an educational setting – the young men and women develop character and self-esteem as in NO other setting. As a student of the old school, I believe ACTIVITY is the foundation upon which an athletic program is built. I was always a "physical educator" before a coach or athletics director. A variety of activities were offered each semester to ALL students, (I always fought for the requirement), hoping to peak an interest or change an attitude about activity or fitness.

The Fitness Center was a great addition in 1986 with close to 400 students and community members utilizing the facility the first year. This was made possible through the support of Casper College President Lloyd Loftin. We must remember the Fitness Center is just one aspect of the whole. As they tore down the old Fitness Center May 22, 1995, (later the Fitness Center was moved to the T-Bird Gym), I drove by and took a picture of the "Do It For You" motto above the door. The motto is gone…but the spirit will ALWAYS be there.

Yes, the years go by and Casper College has seen many changes, especially now, with the passage of the bond issue and the innovative directions the college is taking, under the leadership of President Walter Nolte. A new era is here! There are always great people to work with – teachers, administrators, staff, and coaches – what an opportunity. I shall always cherish and have fond memories of my years at Casper College. Thanks for the experience. 
GO RED – GO WHITE!!!

 

Win-Loss Record and Championships

 

W


L


 

1973

14

8

Region IX Championship

1974

16

6

 

1975

17

5

 

1976

15

8

 

1977

16

7

 

1978

25

5

 

1979

18

7

 

1980

13

13

 

1981

6

23

 

1982

9

16

 

1983

17

10

Region IX Runners-Up

1984

11

17

 

1985

16

11

 

1986

13

15

 

1987

30

9

WCCAC Championship

1988

23

15

WCCAC Championship

1989

15

30

 

1990

16

25

 

1991

10

19

 

1992

7

17

 

1993

23

22

 

1994

27

13

WCCAC Championship

1995

23

23

 

1996

36

19

WCCAC Championship

1997

9

30

 

1998

20

28

 

1999

19

21

 

2000

30

19

 

2001

45

11

 

2002

39

17

Region IX Runners-Up, WCCAC Championship

2003

43

12

Region IX Championship, WCCAC Championship

2004

30

21

 

2005

26

26

Region IX Runners-Up, WCCAC Championship

2006

27

23

Region IX Runners-Up

2007

30

19

Region IX Championship, WCCAC Championship

2008

32

18

Region IX Championship

2009

32

10

Region IX Runners-Up, WCCAC Championship

2010

21

19

 

2011

16

20

Tied for WCCAC Championship

2012

23

17

Region IX Championship

2013

18

19

 

2014

22

18

Region IX Runners-Up

2015

19

13

 

2016

17

17

 

2017

13

23