W&M’s Influential Female Athletes: HERstory

W&M Field Hockey not only qualified for, but advanced in the 2018 NCAA Tournament — building on the history of women’s athletics at W&M. [photo via tribeathletics.com]
In our most recent podcast, we discussed how Jill Ellis may possibly be the greatest athletic figure to graduate from our beloved Alma Mater. This week, and to build off of the USWNT’s recent World Cup CHAMPIONSHIP, we are highlighting some incredible women who paved the way for female athletes at the College.

In recent years, several W&M female athletes and coaches have experienced amazing success, but in the last one hundred years of women at William & Mary, there have been some truly stellar trailblazers.

We hope you enjoy a little bit of W&M HERstory — and stay tuned for part two of our series next week!

Jill Ellis

Fresh off her second World Cup Victory, Jill Ellis has to make this list of W&M Women in history. Every year during her W&M career (’84-’87), the Green and Gold made the NCAA Tournament, which included an appearance in the Elite 8 her senior season. Ellis still ranks 9th in program career points (83). 

Most recently, and as most of us know by now, Jill led the U.S. Women’s National Team to its fourth FIFA World Cup championship. The U.S. rolled through the tournament as it finished a perfect 7-0, giving up only three goals, while scoring a World Cup record 26 Gs.

As a head coach of the USWNT, Jill became the first coach in Women’s World Cup History to win back-to-back World Cup titles and is just the second ever to accomplish the feat in FIFA history (Italy’s Vittorio Pozzo on the men’s side is the other). She has 102 wins as head honcho of the U.S. squad, and has never a match in a major tournament (Olympics and World Cup) — boasting a World Cup record of 13-0-1.

Jill Ellis might just be the most famous W&M athletics figures of all-time (internationally), and she has rightfully earned her way onto this list.

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W&M alum Kathy Carter is currently one of the biggest names in the sports business world of U.S. Soccer today. [photo via Sports Illustrated]

Kathy Carter

Kathy Carter is a great example of a true student athlete at William & Mary. During her years at W&M (’87-’90), she was a standout goalie for the soccer team, which was nationally ranked at the time. She appeared in 72 matches and is still tied for the school record with an insane 0.78 goals-against-average.

When she finished her final college season in 1990, there was no professional pathway for female players in the United States; no pro leagues existed, and the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) was a pipe dream. So Carter continued to play in amateur adult leagues. Her career as a soccer player came to an end not necessarily because she wanted it to, but because there was no option for women to make a career out of playing the biggest sport in the world here at home.

Perhaps the only thing more impressive than her playing career has been her professional career since graduating from W&M. After a brief stint with Booz Allen Hamilton, Carter turned back to soccer. Her professional career in the sport started in 1993, when she worked for the World Cup Organizing Committee for the 1994 FIFA World Cup.

After the World Cup, she worked for Major League Soccer (MLS) as a founding member, becoming the VP of Corporate Marketing for MLS from 1996-1999. In 2003, she joined Soccer United Marketing, the marketing branch for U.S. Soccer and the MLS, and was then promoted from Executive Vice President to President of Soccer United Marketing in 2010.

Most recently, in October 2018, Carter was named the Chief Revenue Officer of the Los Angeles 2028 Olympics; with the role, she is now in charge of funding the Olympics’ $5 billion-plus budget through sponsorship, consumer products, tickets, and hospitality for the 2028 Olympics in LA.

With this venture, Carter is also now the CEO of the US Olympic and Paralympic Properties, which was created by LA28 and the US Olympic Committee to control all domestic Olympic rights from 2021 through 2028. In short, she’s a huge name in the sports business world right now, and will continue to be so for a long, long time.

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Six-Time All-American in just four years of college…need we say more? Ladies and Gentlemen, we give you Megan Moulton-Levy. [photo via tribeathletics.com]

Megan Moulton-Levy

Just announced to the 2019 W&M Athletics Hall of Fame Class, Megan Moulton Levy (’07) starred at W&M as a tennis player.

In her first season with the Tribe (’04-’05), she went 28-12 in singles and 30-13 in doubles while making the NCAA Championships in both.  She also led the Tribe to the CAA title and a team NCAA appearance, earning CAA Player of the Year honors for the first time…. oh, and did we mention she was just a freshman at the time?

As a sophomore, Moulton-Levy went 35-9 in singles, reaching the NCAA semifinals, while also going 20-13 in doubles and reaching the NCAA Tournament again. Moulton-Levy again repeated as the CAA Player of the Year, as W&M gained an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament.

In her junior season, Moulton-Levy ascended to the top-tier of the sport, spending most of the spring ranked No. 1 nationally in doubles alongside teammate Katarina Zoricic, winning the ITA National Indoor Doubles Championship that fall.  Moulton-Levy was 45-5 in doubles that season, and the pair made a run through the NCAA Tournament, reaching the championship match before falling to the No. 2-ranked team in three sets.  In singles, Moulton-Levy was 30-7 and was named the CAA Player of the Year for the third time and MVP of the CAA Tournament for the second time. She helped the Tribe finish 22-3 as a team, the best record of her career, reaching the NCAA Sweet 16 for the first time since 2003.

She brought her career to a finish in her senior year with another CAA Player of the Year and MVP season, becoming just the fourth athlete in CAA history in any sport to win four-straight Player of the Year honors.  Moulton-Levy and Zoricic reached the NCAA Quarterfinals in doubles, as Moulton-Levy made the Round of 16 in singles, while also going 31-8 in singles and 30-8 in doubles on the year. Just let that sink in. She was CAA Player of the Year all four years she played for the Green and Gold. Truly insane.

Moulten-Levy goes down as one of the best W&M Athletes of all time — regardless of gender or sport, and it’s not even close. Her storied career is incredibly impressive, and we’re glad that she was inducted in the W&M athletics Hall of Fame this year.

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W&M alum Erica Dambach is a National Champion — no, not with W&M, but as Head Coach of the Penn State Nittany Lions. (photo via State College Magazine)

Erica Dambach

Another W&M Athletics Hall of Fame member, inducted in 2010, soccer star Erica Dambach excelled during her time in the ‘Burg. As a player, Dambach was an NSCAA All-Region selection. A two-time first team All-CAA pick, she propelled her team to four NCAA Tournament appearances, as well as two CAA regular season and two CAA league championships.

After graduating, Dambach went straight into coaching, starting off as an assistant at Bucknell. Her first head coaching job came at Dartmouth in 2000, where she went an impressive 37-15-2 over 3 years; this stint included an NCAA Tournament appearance in all 3 seasons. After a very brief (1 year) stint at Harvard, Dambach was then hired by powerhouse Penn State in 2007 — and the rest is history.

Over her 10-year career (and counting), Penn State has been in first place in the Big Ten every single year except one. The Nittany Lions have also qualified for the NCAA Tournament every year that Dambach has been their coach; they also won the National Championship in 2015. No big deal. Her record at Penn State is an eye-watering 169-55-14.

Additionally, Dambach has experience coaching with the U.S. National Team, as she was an Assistant Coach for the U.S. 2008 gold medalist squad at the Beijing Olympics. Her accomplishments in the coaching world are truly remarkable, and if it’s not going to be W&M, we hope to see more women’s soccer National Championships out of Happy Valley in the years to come.

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Martha Barksdale

You know her as the Ladies of the Alpha social media presence and one of the first and (dare we say it) most influential female students at the college — but did you know that Martha, while having a soccer field named after her on campus, was actually a pro on the basketball court?

As the President of the Women’s Student Council, Martha was a champion in advocating for an intercollegiate sports program for women at the College. In 1920, Martha was a starter on the first ever William & Mary Women’s basketball team.

Through her leadership, by 1925, women were also eligible to compete in field hockey and tennis. Her efforts are even believed to have helped establish women’s field hockey teams across the southern region of the United States.

Upon graduating, Martha’s athletic passions did not subside, as she went on to teach in the Women’s Physical Education department; in 1939, she was promoted to Associate Professor of Physical Education.

She would later go on and chair that very department from 1944 to 1965, and during that time, she taught, coached, and played over a dozen sports (notably coaching the basketball team from 1924–1962 and the field hockey team from 1924 – 1948)! Today, the Tribe Hall of Fame often refers to her as the “mother of women’s athletics” — and for good reason!

LET’S GO TRIBE.

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