When the Howard College athletics program determined to maneuver the ladies’s basketball program from intramural to varsity, within the 1973-74 season, it got here with little fanfare or imaginative and prescient to the place it was going. At the moment, there have been no scholarships and not one of the perks that at the moment’s student-athletes have. But, there was a dedication from the late director of athletics Leo Miles and a basis to construct on.
“After we began this program, there have been loads of unknowns, ” recalled Sylvia Groomes, the primary head coach. “It was all new to us so we needed to make some changes.”
Reflecting on these changes and what it has turn out to be 50 years later, Groomes stated, “Most of the younger ladies who performed in 1974 graduated and loved profitable careers of their endeavors. Seeing their want to play sports activities was a pleasure to observe. There’s an incredible sense of satisfaction for the younger girls and coaches who’ve come after us. There’s been development and this system continues to get higher. We planted the seed, and seeing what Howard ladies’s basketball has turn out to be is extremely rewarding.”
Quick ahead a half-century and the muse and imaginative and prescient has paid off. All through these 50 years, this system has turn out to be one of many high applications in HBCU historical past.
- Howard was the primary workforce in Mid-Japanese Athletic Convention (MEAC) historical past to take part within the NCAA Event in 1982 and is the one workforce in convention historical past to have gained an NCAA Event sport, profitable the inaugural ladies’s First 4 sport towards Incarnate Phrase in 2022.
- Howard is the one HBCU with a number of gamers drafted to the WNBA: Denique Graves (1997); Karen Wilkins (1998) and Andrea Gardner (2002).
- Howard ladies’s basketball has gained 11 MEAC match championships, together with eight regular-season championships.
- The college’s ladies’s basketball program has featured 9 completely different MEAC Participant of the Yr award winners, three MEAC Coach of the Yr award winners and 4 MEAC Rookie of the Yr award winners in its historical past.
- Former ahead Saadia Doyle (2009-13) is the MEAC’s all-time main scorer with 2,310 profession factors. Doyle additionally completed her profession because the convention’s all-time chief in free throws and is eighth in profession rebounds.
- Alisha Hill (1994-98) led the NCAA in rebounds in the course of the 1997-98 season with a mean of 13.2 per sport and holds the NCAA single season file for capturing from the ground at 70%.
- Andrea Gardner (1999-02) led the NCAA in rebounds in the course of the 2000-01 marketing campaign with 14.2 per sport.
- Howard is the one HBCU to have two Parade All People in Karen Wilkins and Denique Graves
- Legendary coach Sanya Tyler (1980-00) coached probably the most wins in Howard historical past (over 270), in addition to probably the most MEAC match championships (eight) and common season championships (5). Coach Tyler was the one coach in MEAC and HBCU historical past to defeat 4 Energy 5 faculties: the College of Maryland, North Carolina State, Rutgers and the College of Minnesota.
Greater than 100 former gamers, coaches, managers and trainers got here collectively not too long ago to have a good time the accomplishments of this system.
A Howard alum and radiologist, Sanya Tyler took over this system following the years of development and was a part of the College’s membership within the Mid-Japanese Athletic Convention and gaining Division 1 standing. A visionary and trailblazer, the Corridor of Fame coach was credited with giving the ladies’s program nationwide publicity, repeatedly scheduling different ladies’s basketball Energy 5 opponents and main her groups to a number of post-season tournaments.
“It’s so thrilling to see so many athletes from 50 years come again and share their recollections and ideas and have a good time with us,” stated Tyler. “However as a historian myself and a contributor to the expansion and the historical past of Howard College, it’s simply an impressive alternative to observe the brand new expertise and cheer them on and listen to all these tales.”
Andrea Gardner helped contribute to this system’s success throughout her tenure on the College, not solely being drafted by the WNBA and happening to have the longest profession of any ladies’s basketball participant in HBCU historical past.
“I’ve to confess that I didn’t consider it as something out of the peculiar on the time,” stated Gardner, a member of each Howard College and the MEAC. “Certain, I used to be excited and proud to not solely symbolize Howard College ladies’s basketball program, however all HBCUs. Being right here for this fiftieth celebration and seeing all of the wealthy historical past of this program, the place it was, the way it has grown, and having been part of it’s surreal.”
With a lot to have a good time, there was an added caveat: They alums have been capable of elevate $100,000 for this system, half of which is able to go to the HU ladies’s program and the opposite half to the long run.
“We’re so excited to have the ability to elevate $100,000 – $50,000 for the 50 years of ladies’s basketball and $50,000 for the 50 years of the way forward for ladies’s basketball,” defined Tyler, who headed up the fundraising effort together with the greater than 100 former gamers. “So, in that respect, I simply wish to be often called a coach who got here by means of and gave again.”
Ty Grace, Howard College’s present head coach, who led this system to its first-ever first-round NCAA match win, supplied her ideas on what the half-century celebration means.
“It is very important have a good time such a particular time for the Woman Bison as a result of they’ve embodied resilience, management and profitable at Howard and past,” stated Grace in her sixth yr on the helm of the workforce. “I sincerely thank people who have come earlier than me on this program and have enabled me to be part of a distinguished and completed group of ladies on and off the courtroom.”