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Harriet Stewart honored as a leader in the fight for equality in women's sports

Title IX has impacted female athletes nationwide. The fight for equality among female college athletes has been noticeable, and strides towards true equality are taking place at Ohio Wesleyan.

On April 1, Harriet Stewart’s plaque was added to the wall at Selby Stadium. Stewart was Ohio Wesleyan’s women's athletic director from 1963-1977. She was ahead of her time and ahead of the idea of Title IX or any equity for female athletes.

Stewart was a dedicated coach, player, and leader who did anything for her student athletes.

Photo courtesy of John Hulkenberg.

Doug Zipp, the current athletic director, said Stewart was more than just a leader.

“They are on that wall because they are leaders, mentors, decision makers, negotiators, educators, thinkers and of course decision makers.”

Stewart pushed for equality in women's sports, always advocating for her athletes and fighting back when they were not treated equally. She was known to be resilient and always pushed for what she knew was right.

“She saw a need, and Stew being Stew she did something about it,” said Jay Martin the current men's soccer coach, and the winningest coach in OWU history.

Stewart was not only the women's athletic director but an outstanding coach for the field hockey team. She had a six-year span of undefeated teams from 1955-1960. Martin described how Stewart was the reason he became such a good coach.

“She insisted I have a plan every time I walk out on the field, and I have had a plan every time I walk out on the field since,” said Martin.

Female athletes at OWU know equality battles are still being fought. Stewart's heart and attitude changed the way female athletes were treated here at OWU, and she has been an inspiration for all, from coaches to directors to players.

“Harriet Stewart was an unsung hero,” said Diana Manos, a member of the Ohio Wesleyan Hall of Fame and current field hockey coach.

Harriet Stewart was and is an inspiration for female athletes, not only here at Ohio Wesleyan, but for athletes nationwide. The recognition of these impactful coaches and athletic directors is a step in the right direction for all athletes and needs to continue for generations to come.

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