Image of a white nurse's cap from the 1940s.

Women’s Athletics

 

The University of South Carolina is a Division I member of the National Collegiate Athletic Association, and a member of the Eastern Division of the Southeastern Conference, which it joined in 1990. Prior to that time, UofSC was a member of the Atlantic Coast Conference from 1953 to 1971 and the Metro Conference from 1983 to 1990. 

After the passage of Title IX in 1972, college athletics opened more widely to women. Today, there are 11 Division I sports teams: basketball, beach volleyball, cross country, equestrian, golf, soccer, softball, swimming and diving, tennis, track and field, and volleyball. Five of these have female head coaches who serve as empowering role models. They are Dawn Staley (basketball), Boo Major (equestrian), Kalen Anderson (golf), Shelley Smith (soccer), and Beverly Smith (softball). In the 2019-20 season, these sports showcased 290 student athletes.  

In recent years, women’s teams were regularly and highly ranked in national polls. In 2002, track and field earned UofSC’s first national championship in any sport. Since then, equestrian won three National Collegiate Equestrian Association Championships, and Women’s Basketball won the 2017 NCAA National Championship. The Women’s Soccer team won the 2019 SEC Championship and made it to the quarterfinals in the NCAA Tournament, and the softball team has participated in the NCAA Regionals, Super Regionals, or Tournament for the last 7 years. 

Thousands more students participate in UofSC’s 55 club teams and 19 intramural leagues. At every level, athletics play a vital role in students’ health, character development, and community building. 

Basketball

Women’s basketball began at UofSC in 1923 as the Pullets, a young hen. In 1974 the team became the Carolina Chicks and started a long tradition of dominating the sport that continues today. In 1977, Pam Parsons took over as head coach and changed the team’s name to the Lady Gamecocks, and led them to a tournament championship. Other successes followed in the Metro Conference. Upon joining the SEC, the team struggled early on, but then reached the Elite Eight in 2002. Dawn Staley took the helm in 2008. Her teams have ended their seasons in the top 10, won numerous conference titles, and one NCAA National Championship in 2017. Although the COVID-19 pandemic prevented the NCAA’s end-of-season tournament and crowning of a national champion, the 2019-2020 women’s basketball team was “undisputed number 1,” after placing first in national polls for 10 weeks, winning the most games against ranked opponents, and finishing with a 32-1 record.

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Softball

The Gamecocks Softball Team began play in 1972 as an independent team. They joined the SEC in 1997. Though softball is not as visible in college sports as basketball, the Gamecocks have participated in 11 College World Series during their 23 years of conference play. Carolina Softball Stadium at Beckham Field seats over 1,200 and is almost filled to capacity during regular season play.

 

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