Recent renovations to Holloway Field, home of SUNY Cortland’s men’s and women’s soccer teams, provided an opportunity for a special group of alumnae to contribute.
The field’s new scoreboard is a gift from the members of Cortland’s 1980 women’s soccer team, the first national intercollegiate champions in U.S. history.
“It was a way to get some recognition and a way to give back,” said Terry Febrey ’82, who was the sweeper and co-captain on the 1980 team.
The scoreboard unveiling on Saturday, Sept. 14, held during a SUNY Cortland women’s soccer match, wasn’t the only exciting new thing displayed by members of the 1980 team that weekend. A number of players finally got the championship rings they never received.
They had to buy them for themselves.
In 1980, just a few years after the passage of Title IX, women’s collegiate sports were undergoing massive growth. However, the NCAA did not yet sanction women’s soccer.
That Cortland team played through its regular season, going 9-3. The team then beat Princeton, Harvard and the University of Connecticut to win the Eastern Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (EAIAW) title, which was supposed to be the end of the line.
Yet Steve Paul, who was the women’s soccer coach at Colorado College, created a new national tournament in 1980 that brought together teams from around the country including Texas A&M, UCLA and the University of North Carolina.
With a shoestring budget, the Cortland players piled into two red vans and drove to Colorado Springs for this first-of-its-kind tournament. They knocked off Colorado State, Harvard and UCLA in three consecutive days to become the nation’s first women’s soccer champions.
The team got a police escort down Main Street in Cortland — and a feature-length documentary “Cortland to Colorado” in 2017 — but they didn’t get rings. Until Febrey, who worked together with teammates Susan Hoffman ’84 and Joan Schockow ’85, decided to get the rings created and distributed the night before the scoreboard unveiling.
“It’s one of those things where we had to pay for it ourselves, just like the old days,” Febrey said. “But nobody’s talking about that. We’re happy to have them and we’re happy with the way they look. I’ve had mine on for 24 hours and already people are noticing the ring and asking questions and that’s exciting. You put pictures on Facebook and people are happy to see them.”
Cortland’s 1980 team started making a push to get together as a group about five years ago during the filming of the documentary. They came back for Alumni Reunion 2017 for the documentary premiere and many returned this month for the scoreboard ceremony.
“There is a little bit of magic there,” Febrey said. “To win a national championship, you need a certain type of people to come together. One of the things I’ll always remember is how we always tried to do what was best for the team. If a person was open, you hit the open person, no questions asked. We were always getting together to talk about the team and strategies and what would make us better. It was always about us, never about an individual person. That always works to your advantage.”
Most of all, they enjoy being around each other and spending time with their coach, Anna Boserup Rush Zado ’57 who was present at the weekend ceremonies.
There was some time for shenanigans as well. During Saturday’s game, Lisa Langworthy Parsons ’82, M ’90, the team’s top prankster, snuck into the visiting team’s dugout.
And Febrey walked to the sidelines to inspire Cortland’s current women’s team as they were scoreless with Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute at the half.
“At halftime, I went over and yelled, ‘Let’s get a goal!’” she said. “‘Wait a minute, let’s get two goals!’ So that was fun for me.”
Final score: Cortland 2, RPI 0.
A little bit of that 1980 magic happening all over again.