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Archive for January 1, 2022

Jan. 1, 2022 — Dr. Christine Grant, 1936-2021

Like her fellow sports pioneers Constance Applebee and Rosabelle Sinclair, Christine Grant is of British extraction.

And Dr. Grant, who died yesterday, may have been equally important when it comes to women’s athletics in North America.

While many of us know her as the woman who advocated for women in athletics during her three decades at the University of Iowa, there were other roles for which she may be less known, but are equally important.

Dr. Grant, back in the 1960s, was, for lack of a better term, the equivalent of Constance Applebee for Canada. She was instrumental in the formation of the organization which eventually became Field Hockey Canada, and served as the head coach of the senior women’s national team.

A decade later, she was instrumental in the formation of the Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women, a national governing body for women’s collegiate sport that predated the NCAA’s sanctioning of women’s sports, something which did not occur until the early 1980s.

Indeed, the world of women’s intercollegiate sports in American was fraught with uncertainty when Dr. Grant began her work at Iowa. Women’s and men’s intercollegiate sports programs at universities were separate and very much unequal.

Grant’s work as the athletic director for women’s sports at Iowa was groundbreaking and highly effective. This especially went for field hockey, a sport which had very little history and recreational footprint in the state when the program started in the 1980s. But the team developed quickly through good coaching and recruiting.

To this day, Iowa’s field hockey program is a national standard-bearer. In 2021, Iowa made the Final Four for the spring season and was an overtime goal away from getting into the Final Four this past fall.

To be sure, the game being played these days at Christine Grant Field is not one which Dr. Grant would recognize immediately. It’s one of three-dimensional skills, 15-minute quarters, no offside, and no timeouts.

But I think she would have loved coaching to today’s rules package.