After 123 years of operation, Manhattan College saw the enrollment of women. Changing times as well as financial reality dictated this change. While they were academically accepted the college was not fully prepared for all the associated changes that would be necessary in order to accommodate women. For example, many discovered that girls liked sports too.
In September of 1975 Kathy McCarrick, who had played varsity basketball at St. Catherine's Academy, inquired about a basketball team and was told that while there was none, there was nothing to stop her from starting one. Well, she decided "Why not?" but discovered it wasn't all that easy. After receiving approval from Dr. Cashman to move ahead with the idea, Kathy worked with Lisa Toscano, Mary Moore, Louise Mundy, Pam Perrone, and Grace Mikulsky to prepare a constitution for the club and petitioned the Student Government for 800 dollars to cover uniforms, referees fees, and equipment. They were awarded 750 dollars. It should be noted that this award came at a time when several other clubs were operating at a loss, in some cases a big loss, and were receiving much more generous awards.
While the student government provided some funding,the club had to fight for more money. Tryouts were organized and other schools, including high schools, were called individually to arrange a schedule, and referees were contacted. The team still needed a coach. At the suggestion of Dr. Bennett of the Physical Education Department, Jerry Fahey, himself a student, volunteered his services. Practice time was also needed but at this time Manhattan had only the Alumni Gym; Draddy was still labeled FOCUS '76 and only the ground had been broken. The girls were preparing to do some ground breaking of their own. The Athletic Department only granted the women's club team two hours of practice per week. Furthermore, there were no facilities to change in or store equipment. As far as stats go, it wasn't a phenomenal year. They lost to several college as well as local high school teams, but the season did end with an exciting victory over the College of Mt. Saint Vincent, where the Manhattan team won in the final seconds. The real victory though was the fact that they had survived. The first season, no matter what the stats, now belonged in the record books.
While the '75-'76 season had been a struggle these women perservered and were back again the next year. There were thirteen college games scheduled, more than twice as many women tried out for the team, and Jerry Fahey returned as coach. Practice was expanded to two nights a week and the team gained an equipment closet to change in. Everyone remained committed and enthusiastic. They practiced and made their presence and views known in an attempt to firm up the foundation on which the women's athletics at Manhattan College would be built. While there was still a great deal of talk about the future Draddy Gym, the women's team remained focused on their season, practices continued and games were played. This season ended with a 7-4 record.
'77-'78 was a critical year for the program. The women continued to deal with the sub standard practice conditions while defining what standard would be expected in the future. This proved to be the season that put Manhattan College Women's Athletics on the map. They played varsity teams and beat John Jay College 53-52 in the final seconds, with a lay up by Lisa Toscano, to win the Hudson Valley Women's Athletic Conference Championship. After this season, Manhattan College Women's Basketball became a varsity sport in the Fall of 1978.
Manhattan College Women's Athletics, and basketball specifically, have come a long way since that final lay up in Iona's Mulcahy Center and every accomplishment can be traced back in some way to the struggle of the first Girls Basketball Club here at Manhattan. Would they be where they are today if thirteen girls had not been willing to come dressed for practice, hoped they didn't get thirsty because a water fountain wasn't available, played games after only two hours a week of practice, and listened to the ridicule when they lost to local high schools? Maybe, but we'll never know, because they did what they did because they wanted to play basketball at Manhattan College. Manhattan College now has Women's Basketball, Tennis, Volleyball, Softball, Track, and Soccer and all of these teams do the College proud. The founders of this basketball tradition also rowed crew, played intramural softball and volleyball, and contributed competenly and completely to the athletic heritage of Manhattan College.