When Southwestern switched to Division III competition in 1993, some people thought the school would not be able to field winning athletic teams because it could no longer offer scholarships to athletes.
The 1995 women’s volleyball team proved them wrong.
In just their second year of Division III play, the team won the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference (SCAC) championship by beating Trinity University in one of the first tournaments played in Southwestern’s then-new Robertson Center.
“Their victory was validation we could be successful in Division III,” said Glada Munt, who had coached the volleyball team for more than 20 years before being named Southwestern’s Athletics Director in March 1995.
Other than a few newspaper clippings, team members never got anything to show for their accomplishment. Southwestern didn’t begin purchasing conference championship rings for players until 1999, when the women’s golf team won the SCAC championship and a donor thought they should get rings.
That all changed Sept. 18. Thanks to a donor who wishes to remain anonymous, members of the team finally got the rings they earned. The rings were presented to the team members at a ceremony in the Howry Center, just before the current volleyball team played Trinity in the SCAC West/Central Cross-Divisional Tournament being held at Southwestern.
Eleven members of the 1995 team came back for the ceremony – Darcy Bernzen ’99, Valencia Compton-Bauswell ’97, Sara Fleming-Scanlan ’99, Lara Gandre ’98, La’Kisha Henderson-Crenshaw ’97, Kim Jones ’97, Lauren (Rathbun) Koenig ’99, Jamie (Robinette) Nettles ’98, Shayzreen Roshanravan ’98, Adrienne (Vlasin) Ruhnow ’97 and Kelly Word ’99. Members of the team now live all over Texas, as well as in Arizona, California, Colorado, Illinois, Missouri, Oregon and Washington.
“I wouldn’t have missed it for the world,” said Valencia Compton-Bauswell, who will be coming from Chicago for the ceremony. “It was truly a long time coming.”
“I never imagined something like this would happen 15 years after the fact,” said Jamie Nettles, who now lives in Austin with her husband, Irvin Nettles ’98.
Nettles said receiving the rings affirms that members of the Southwestern community, especially those who follow Pirate athletics, really do appreciate the dedication and effort that goes into being a student-athlete.
“It also indicates to me that their appreciation of excellence continues well after we are gone,” she said.
Munt said the 1995 conference championship gave the Athletic Department credibility, and many other Southwestern teams have gone on to win SCAC championships since then. She said she hopes to eventually be able to present rings to members of other teams that won conference championships between 1995 and 2000.