When Ruth Waller retired last spring, I hoped USI would do something soon to honor the woman who almost single-handedly built women’s sports at the school. Well, now’s the time. Her death last Saturday should hasten the creation of some sort of memorial or even memorials on campus. My suggestion: Name the Physical Activities Center after her, something along the lines of the Ruth Waller Center. Thousands of young women have come through those doors to play basketball, volleyball, soccer, run track and cross country. But don’t just re-name the place. Also put up a prominent plaque detailing what she did for USI women’s sports, a plaque that nobody can miss when they walk in the building. It’s only right and fitting. Ruth never, ever tooted her own horn, but I don’t think she would have minded this gesture.
The advent of universal women’s sports in the United States was truly revolutionary. When I grew up, girls almost never played sports and those who did we thought were just plain weird. Yeah, that was stupid, but if you lived before the revolution almost nobody even thought to question it. Since the revolution we can’t even begin to imagine how anyone would have thought like that. Thank people like Ruth Waller for that 180-degree change.