Game Changers: Nine Women Who Helped Shape Women’s Athletics At Clark

Game Changers: Nine Women Who Helped Shape Women’s Athletics At Clark

By Kevin Anderson, Sports Information Director, Special To
(This Story Appears In The October, 2012 Edition Of CLARK Magazine) 

In the 40 years since Indiana Senator Birch Bayh introduced Title IX of the Education Amendments of to the 92nd United States Congress, female student-athletes at Clark have had some extraordinary achievements and with some help from some forward-thinking women have blazed a trail that will help future generations of Clark make an impact on their field of play.

Elyse Darefsky, Volleyball, Basketball, Softball, Coach
Darefsky experienced success at Clark on both sides – as a student-athlete then as a coach at her alma mater. She was a member of the first-ever volleyball team at Clark in 1976 and played three years, eventually helping the Cougars to the state tournament in just the program’s second season. On the hardwood, she was a team captain and a member of two state championship teams (1977, 1979). In the spring, Darefsky was again a part of a first – a Clark softball team that advanced to postseason play. A recipient of the M. Hazel Hughes Award, Darefsky coached the volleyball team from 1980-86, posting a 165-87 overall record. Her 1983 squad won a still school record 32 games and her 1984 and 1985 teams both captured state titles.

Pat Hassett, Athletics Administrator
One of the most influential figures in the development of women’s athletics at Clark, Hassett arrived at Clark three years before the birth of Title IX and went to work immediately. She resurrected the women’s basketball program, and started several intercollegiate programs for women, including rowing, softball, tennis and volleyball. She coached women’s basketball from 1969-73 and served as director of women’s athletics for 18 years, while also overseeing what is now the intramural program. Hassett established the M. Hazel Hughes Trophy, given annually to the senior female athlete who has made a significant impact to the Clark athletics program.

More than 40 years after her arrival at Clark the Pat Hassett Award was established in to 2010 to honor the student-athlete who makes great contributions to the Clark and Worcester communities.

M. Hazel Hughes, Pioneer, Administrator, Coach
Long before Title IX had a name, Hazel Hughes was banging the drum for equality on Clark’s campus for women – especially in athletics. Hughes was on campus for 26 years, spending ten seasons as the coach of the newly formed women’s basketball team beginning in 1942 – the same year the school went co-educational. She served numerous administrative roles including director of women’s athletics and director of student activities for the women’s college. Her efforts helped bring additional sports such as rowing and archery to Clark and in 1977 the Athletics Department named their top athletics award for a female student-athlete the M. Hazel Hughes Award.

Pat Glispin, Women’s Basketball Coach
For 28 seasons, Pat Glispin has walked the sidelines in charge of the most successful women’s program in school history. She has nearly 500 wins, made seven trips to the NCAA Tournament, and had the nation’s longest winning streak (36 games) in the late 1980’s. Her teams have won 20 games or more 11 times, produced 23 winning seasons and was the first true dynasty of the NEWMAC era, playing in five consecutive conference championship games.

Before her coaching career began, Glispin was an excellent athlete in her own right, playing three sports (field hockey, basketball and softball) in high school and basketball at UMass-Amherst before graduating in 1975. Glispin experienced the effects of Title IX first-hand, as the women’s team at UMass moved to the same gymnasium that the men’s squads that used to feature Julius Erving and Rick Pitino.

Marge O’Brien, Women’s Basketball, 1979-83
The most decorated women’s basketball player in school history, O’Brien was a three-time first-team All-America selection ( 1981, 1982, and 1983) and was named Division III National Player of the Year. O’Brien is the only Cougar – male or female – to score more than 2,000 points (2,224) and coral 1,000 rebounds (1,367). Only in her junior year did the NCAA begin recognizing women’s sports and she promptly guided Clark to back-to-back Final four appearances. Interestingly enough, during her four-year career the Cougars won 82 games under head coach Barbara Stevens, who is now the all-time winningest coach in Division II basketball with 852 career wins.

Wanda Mazzamurro, Field Hockey, Basketball, Softball & Club Soccer
A four sport student-athlete is undoubtedly an unbelievably rare feat in today’s world of collegiate athletics. It wasn’t in the early 1980’s when “Sis” arrived at Clark. She not only played four sports but played them all exceptionally well.  The goalkeeper on the field hockey team, she backstopped the Cougars to the MAIAW (Massachusetts Association of Intercollegiate Athletics for Women) state championship in 1981. On the court, she was a true lead guard, racking up a school-record 15 assists in one game and playing in back-to-back Final Fours in 1982 and 1983.

Despite all of her on field success at the varsity level, her greatest contribution could’ve come as a member of the club soccer program. She played four years on the club team and was instrumental in getting the program moved to varsity status in 1985 – one year after her graduation.

Linda Moulton, Athletics Director
When Linda Moulton was hired as the Director of Athletics at Clark back in 1987 only 20 percent of the 654 colleges and universities in Divisions II and III had a woman AD. Moulton immediately put her stamp on the Cougar program by adding men’s lacrosse as a varsity sport in 1991, adding additional coaches and staff and upping the participation numbers across the board in varsity athletics and in recreational sports. Her biggest coup, however, was getting Clark conference membership. The men were first part of the CAC (Constitution Athletic Conference) and the women the NEW-8. Eventually, when the NEW-8 went co-ed the NEWMAC was formed and Clark’s place was cemented in one of the strongest Division III conferences in the country.  

Linda Wage, Field Hockey & Softball Head Coach
Not many coaches at any level of collegiate athletics can say they are the all-time winningest coach in two separate sports at the same school. That is the case for Linda Wage, who has spent 24 seasons in the dugout with the softball team to the tune of 400 career wins and 28 seasons on the sidelines with the field hockey program and nearly 300 wins. Not to mention, Wage was an assistant women’s basketball coach for 13 seasons (1984-1996), helping the Cougars to four NCAA Tournament appearances and three ECAC crowns.

A remarkable athlete during her collegiate career at Providence College, Wage collected 12 varsity letters playing three sports (field hockey, basketball and softball) and is still the school’s all-time leading scorer in field hockey with 95 goals and 213 points. One of those goals actually came against Clark when the Friars defeated the Cougars, 6-2 on October 11, 1977.

Jenifer West, Field Hockey
An out-of-this-world goalkeeper, West was a part of an incredible run in field hockey history that saw the Cougars go 48-17-9 and make four straight postseason appearances, including the program’s only NCAA Tournament berth.

West hopped right into the fray as a freshman leading the Cougars to a school-record 14 wins, while setting school records for shutouts (12.5) and goals against average (0.44). In 1991 during Clark’s NCAA Tournament season, West allowed just three goals in 17 games – a 0.17 goals against average – the second-lowest in NCAA history, which still stands today.

An exceptional student and athlete, West received both the Alice Higgins and the M. Hazel Hughes Awards as a senior and was featured in Sports Illustrated.

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