The College went coed in 1972. In just seven years, its athletics program grew to include 12 women’s varsity sports.
The Dartmouth field hockey team’s season opener against Keene State College in October 1972 was the first women’s intercollegiate competition at Dartmouth. That fall, the College's first coeducational class, which included 177 women, matriculated. They joined 205 female transfer and exchange students.
The College hired Agnes Bixler Kurtz the previous spring to start the women’s athletics program. After surveying female students to gauge their interest in athletics during the initial weeks of the 1972-1973 school year, Kurtz established basketball, skiing, squash, lacrosse, tennis, and field hockey teams for women that first year. Kurtz coached the hockey, squash, and lacrosse teams for the first three years. Named assistant director of athletics in 1974, Kurtz spent the next several years leading the steady growth of women’s athletics at the College.
By 1979, there were 12 varsity sports for women at Dartmouth. Today, there are 18—plus sailing, a coed program. Forty-six Dartmouth women have competed in the Olympics and Paralympics. They have won 46 team Ivy League championships. During the 2018-2019 school year, 416 student-athletes will compete for the Big Green.
The trailblazing students of the 1970s began a tradition of excellence that continues today. In honor of that effort, the following is a collection of team photos from those early years. All photos are courtesy of Dartmouth Athletics unless otherwise noted.
“She will never know the extent of the impact she has had,” says Joann Halpern ’88. “It’s much broader than any individual could ever know.”
The July/August 2013 issue of Dartmouth Alumni Magazine featured an interview with Agnes Bixler Kurtz.