Celebrating Women’s History Month: Senior Star at Elmore Place Resident Transformative in change in Iowa Women’s Sports

Celebrating Women's History Month: Elmore Place Resident Transformative Change in Iowa Women's Sports

Full interview and story click here: https://www.kwqc.com/2024/03/21/creating-change-iowa-womens-sports/

DAVENPORT, Iowa (KWQC) – March is Women’s History Month, a time to celebrate the achievements and history of women. For the University of Iowa, its women’s sports history begins with a Quad Cities resident.

Dr. Helen Smiley admits she had no idea how her life would change when she and her husband came to Iowa in search of their Ph.D.’s.

“[I was] a 30-year-old teacher, and I had a full-time teaching job of classes, undergraduate classes and activity classes. I guess I knew enough about management,” Smiley said.

One of her early tasks was piecing together the University of Iowa’s women’s athletics program. The program consisted of seven teams with a budget of roughly $750.
“We had one set of uniforms. Everybody used the same uniforms, so every night I would take them home, or one of the coaches would take them home and laundry them and get them ready for the next day,” Smiley said.

Smiley’s role in women’s sports was not limited to Iowa. She played a pivotal role in the creation of the Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women in the 1970s.
“It was a parallel to the NCAA. And for 10 years, in that organization, we built schedules, we built tournaments, and we got scholarships,” Smiley said. “The women of Iowa were very active nationally.”

Fast forward to today, the popularity of women’s sports is soaring to new heights.

“It brings tears to my eyes every time I think about it. To me, that’s just wonderful that they can do that now,” Smiley said. “I really don’t know what more there is except that more and more young women will be able to have that opportunity.”

Smiley’s message to young women who are aspiring to be leaders in sports is to dream big because the opportunity is out there.

Creating change in Iowa women’s sports
By Evan Denton
Published: Mar. 20, 2024 at 10:56 PM CDT