Pushing for gender equality a major part of Goodrich's career legacy in sports

THE BELLINGHAM HERALDMay 12, 2013 

Lynda Goodrich

COURTESY TO THE HERALD

One of Lynda Goodrich's favorite poems is "The Road Not Taken" by Robert Frost.

The poem speaks of one who decides to journey along a path less traveled, and concludes that doing so "has made all the difference."

Goodrich's 42 years at Western Washington University as women's basketball coach and Director of Athletics have mirrored Frost's words. She's taken the road less traveled, and has made a major difference.

At a time in the mid-1900s when women were breaking out of stereotypical molds, Goodrich was knocking down barriers few women challenged.

Goodrich was never blessed with the opportunity to play high school varsity athletics. Women's collegiate competitions in the late 1960s were known as sports days. Being a female and earning a scholarship wasn't a reality. The women's basketball teams Goodrich coached during the early 1970s were relegated to the older gym in the morning and afternoon, while men's games were played in the main, featured gym at night.

Goodrich didn't stand pat, though. She pushed for gender equality. She's been an advocate from the time she graduated from Western Washington University in 1966 and was hired as a physical education teacher at West Seattle High School to the day she retired as AD Monday, May 6.

"Gender equity has been represented here, and she has instilled that in us," WWU associate athletic director Steve Card said during a phone interview. "She has added women's sports and has followed the letter of the law. She has made concerted efforts to bring gender equity, and at the same time, she hasn't done that by reducing or penalizing men's sports. She looks at things objectively and builds both up."

The days of outlandish thoughts toward women in sports are long gone. Beliefs that women shouldn't play sports in the same capacity as men because it would harm a female's reproductive system are a thing of the past.

Still, Goodrich lived through that time and has been a pioneer for women in sports and in sports administrative positions.

"I loved being a part of the charge for equality for women in sports," Goodrich said. "As a coach and as a women's athletics director, I promoted that. Women's athletics was a lot different 40 years ago than it is now."

Goodrich began her push for women's inclusion before she returned to Western following her graduation from WWU. She became an adviser for the Girls Athletic Association while teaching at West Seattle High, where she and fellow advisers "developed strategies" to push for the opportunity for girls to play organized sports.

"I remember we would meet at one of the PE teacher's homes," Goodrich recalled. "We'd talk about what we could do to get girls' sports recognized. I would say women in sports was a reflection of how society was, and at that time women wanted more rights and Title IX was a result of that."

Sure enough, basketball, gymnastics and volleyball soon became varsity sports at West Seattle High.

Six players were on a women's basketball team at the time, and the player with the ball was only allowed three dribbles. Only two players could run up and down the full length of the court.

Rules have slowly changed, and Goodrich and the players she coached were part of the new wave of athletic rights given to women.

Not only did Goodrich witness gender equality blossom, she's been a role model for other women seeking sports administrative positions.

Former standout WWU women's basketball player Jo Metzger-Levin is a prime example. She was coached by Goodrich during the late 1970s and early 80s and has enjoyed a long, successful career as an athletic director and physical education teacher at Everett High School.

"I think it's the legacy she has left," said Metzger-Levin of Goodrich's advocacy for equal rights in men's and women's sports. "We all thought we had it really good back then, but to look back it's amazing how much of a trailblazer she was. ... She got to be a coach, and that carried over to helping other young women to be the best that they can be. As an AD, she's been great for someone Carmen (Dolfo) can go to."

Dolfo, who's played and learned under Goodrich's tutelage, has also benefitted from her mentor's breaking down barriers. She's proved, like Goodrich, that great success can be achieved, given the opportunity.

"I think men and women can look and see it's not about gender; it's about the job that's done," Dolfo said in a phone interview. "(Goodrich) is bright. She is so smart. She has really paved the way for women. She has definitely been a pioneer. ... There is no question she has done an amazing job. I know student athletes also have a lot of respect for what she has done, and she's helped pave the way for them."

Goodrich added softball and women's golf as NCAA Division II sports during her tenure, and women's athletics, across the board at Western, is tremendously successful among D-II programs throughout the country.

Rowing has won seven national titles and is in the mix to add an eighth this season, basketball reached the national semifinals, soccer reached the West Regional title game, and volleyball went 24-4, reaching the West Regional.

Goodrich said the word "pioneer" is not her favorite, but that's what she's been during her long career in athletics, and that's a major part of her WWU legacy.

Reach Andrew Lang at andrew.lang@bellinghamherald.com or call 360-756-2862.

Reach ANDREW LANG at andrew.lang@bellinghamherald.com or call ext. 862.

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