A three (or four) part series about the beginning of women's athletics at UC Santa Cruz.
by Cindy Duncan Esq. ('74)
Ann McCampbell, Laurie Bennett and Cindy Duncan met at the Fieldhouse Fall Quarter 1969 playing pick-up basketball with guys. That was the only basketball opportunity for women at UCSC. Ann and Laurie were sophomores and Cindy was a freshman. There were no organized basketball clubs for women nor men at the time.
The next quarter, UCSC offered intramural softball. The three played softball -- women's and co-ed -- and when a flier was posted about Santa Cruz City Summer League women's fast pitch try-outs being held down the hill, they attended together, agreeing they wanted to play on the same team if they were chosen. (Laurie went home for the summer to work so she could only play the first few games.) Cindy played left field, Ann played center and Laurie played right.
It was at these tryouts during spring that Ann, Laurie and Cindy met Marti Brugler, a soon-to-be sophomore at Cabrillo. Marti was a competitive AAU swimmer and diver in 1969 when she graduated from Mora High School in Watsonville to earn the Phillip T. Boyle Award for most valuable all-around athlete (male or female) with the highest GPA. Marti was scouting for the softball team sponsored by Bonesio Liquors (corner of Laurel and Pacific) and grabbed the three UCSC girls the minute she saw them *tossing the ball.*
Bonesio Liquors went on to win the City 1970 Fast Pitch summer league and a couple of tournaments.
Marti had decided to attend Cabrillo College and play for 1964 Olympian Jane Ward. In fall Quarter 1970, Marti set up a meeting with coach Ward and the three UCSC girls. Marti (recognizing our athleticism) wanted us to enroll at Cabrillo to qualify to play basketball and volleyball.
We attended all classes at both institutions, a requisite of Jane Ward's. In addition to Marti, Ann, Laurie and myself (two sophomores and two juniors), Jane had recruited a freshman athlete from Marin County, Nanci Kosta. The five of us went on to win the Northern California Community College Championships in 1970-71 in basketball and volleyball. Marti and Ann played the guard positions, Cindy and Laurie played forward and Nanci played center. We were a phenomenal basketball team.
Jane was highly regarded in sports internationally, and wanted to end her career teaching and coaching in the Santa Cruz area. The three of us met with her, were exceedingly impressed and decided to enroll at Cabrillo (six units), along with our 15 units per quarter at UCSC.
Laurie was the only UCSC student with a car. Marti had a car but she lived in Watsonville. Rides did not always work out, so Ann and Cindy had to often hitch-hike to Cabrillo from UCSC. (There were no buses running to campus in those days.) We practiced every day at Cabrillo and worked out in the weight room twice a week.
This was not an easy path for these young women.
Not only did they have to attend classes at two schools, travel without buses or cars much of the time, they were challenged by many of the coaches in the community college community simply because they were winners.
The uniqueness of the 1970-71 Cabrillo College championship volleyball and basketball teams, both captained by Marti, cannot be stressed enough in looking back. Three of the starters were also enrolled as full-time students at UC Santa Cruz. It was pre-title IX, and UCSC was neither an AIAW school nor NCAA like Cal and Davis and UCLA, nor did it offer any opportunities for women to play organized mainstream sports.
It was hell being a woman athlete in those days, and even worse at progressive UCSC which was not really into sports as competition, especially in *mainstream* sports.
Modern Dance was a priority. Fencing was a priority. Surfing was cool. Rugby was great for the men. Basketball and Volleyball were not.
At the time, there was nothing hoops wise for women, other than coed pick up games with men. UCSC sponsored our first city league team because of this fact. And the lack of opportunities for women in sports like basketball and volleyball is why Ann, Laurie and I went to Cabrillo in 1971 to play.
Hitchhiking ruled much of the time because only Laurie had a car and did not live in the same house as Ann and Cindy. If we were late, we did not go to a game. Our one loss in basketball was to College of San Mateo because Annie and I had class at UCSC and could not catch a ride in time to Cabrillo before the team cars left. Marti broke the rules and came back to get us against coach's instructions, so she sat Marti when we got to San Mateo. Annie and I refused to play in solidarity. So, all three of us sat for most of the game and we lost. (Laurie and Nanci were assigned to ride in Coach Ward's car that day.)
We did meet San Mateo again in the championship game, however. It is a game I will never forget! We won in a hard fought battle.
Marti considers it fate that brought her together with Cindy Duncan, Ann McCampbell and Laurie Bennett during the summer between her freshman and sophomore years. Without Cindy, Ann and Laurie there would not have been championships for Marti, Jane Ward (Cabrillo College Hall of Famer) and Cabrillo College in 1970-71. This same group also played volleyball for Jane Ward and Mixed Doubles. All of us played a lot of beach volleyball and played together on a USVBA team that Ward coached, "The Wardens", and won the USVBA league.
Marti Brugler's CCCAA Hall of Fame Induction in 2013. (L-R) Cindy Duncan, Nanci Kosta, Marti Brugler, Laurie Bennett
courtesy of C. Duncan
Once Cabrillo College started winning during basketball season with the three athletes from UCSC, their eligibility was officially contested by other community colleges, along with the Cabrillo College wins, claiming students could not enroll simultaneously in two schools. It was hotly debated.
We asked to be heard, and a hearing was set in Richmond during the basketball season in the winter of 1970.
Both Jane and Marti took the cause before the Northern California Board of Community College Coaches and pleaded the cause for us. All three UCSC students testified before the Board about their desire only to play sports, as well as their dedication to academics, their futures and their Santa Cruz community. In addition to their classes at UCSC, they had to enroll in six units each semester at Cabrillo College. Ward demanded practice attendance, Cabrillo class and UCSC class attendance as well. It was a long day at Contra Costa College, the vote was very close, but ultimately Coach Ward and her team prevailed.
Marti transferred to Long Beach State as a junior and played volleyball for fellow CCCAA Hall of Fame inductee, Ann Heck (who coincidentally happened to be Ann McCampbell's high school P.E. teacher/coach at Carlmont High in Belmont). They won the Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (AIAW) Collegiate National Championships in 1973, the year after Title IX passed. Marti stayed on at Long Beach as a Graduate Assistant in Volleyball and coached an undefeated USA volleyball team in Mexico City at the Festival de Universidad. She moved back north and coached with Jane again for six years at San Jose State, winning numerous championships and holding the position of Head Coach for one season and went on to coach the Men's Volleyball Team at Santa Clara University.
Ann, Laurie and Cindy returned to UCSC and asked Jane to interview when there was a sports position opening that would include coaching women's basketball and volleyball. We were certain she could help lead UCSC into the changes that were looming with the passage of Title IX, and be a great asset going forward for women's sports, but she was not hired.