Marlene Mawson

Marlene Mawson

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Marlene Mawson is considered "the mother of Kansas women's athletics."

The Female Athlete of the Year Award is named after her, she is in the Kansas Athletics Hall of Fame, and if it wasn't for her, women's sports at the University of Kansas might not be what it is today.

"When I went to college, there wasn't an opportunity for women to compete intercollegiatley," Mawson said.

That was motivation for Mawson to change things. In 1968, Mawson became an instructor in the women's physical education department at KU. That's where it all started.

"I first started the program, we had six sports and I coached four of them," Mawson said. "I coached field hockey in the fall, end of the fall was volleyball, beginning of winter was basketball and then in the spring it was softball, but then there wasn't an off season, you didn't compete in and you didn't continue working on the sport year-round like you do now."

Mawson did it all. She was the first to develop a serious women's program of intercollegiate athletics at KU, on top of her teaching and coaching schedules.