Black and white photo of the CWRU 1971-72 women's volleyball team, posed in two rows
The 1971-72 volleyball team was the first women's varsity sport at CWRU.

In CWRU History: Women’s Sports at CWRU

The Daily has partnered with University Archives to shed light on Case Western Reserve University’s history each month. Follow The Daily to get your fill, and check out Digital Case to find even more information.

As Women’s History Month comes to a close, we’re looking back on women’s sports at Case Western Reserve University. 

In 1971, volleyball became the first documented Case Western Reserve women’s varsity sport, established shortly before Title IX was passed in 1972. Title IX banned discrimination in higher education and increased access to women’s sports at the collegiate level. 

Led by Nancy Gray, the university’s first women’s varsity head coach, their first game was played against Hiram College in Mather Gym. Basketball was the second women’s varsity sport established at the university, with the first game being played in January 1972. 

The university’s first woman who won a varsity letter was Claire Doran Stancik, a golfing champion. She was the second woman inducted into the Case Reserve Athletic Club Hall of Fame (now called the Spartan Club Hall of Fame). Stancik was inducted in 1982.

Today, CWRU is proud to offer all of the following women’s varsity sports: basketball, cross country, soccer, softball, swimming and diving, tennis, track and field and volleyball. Fencing was a women’s varsity sport for many years before it and men’s fencing were eliminated.

Since the inception of women’s athletics at CWRU, the nine varsity teams have made 50 appearances in the NCAA Division III Championships, including a fifth-place finish by the 2018 softball team, the highest finish ever by a Spartans women’s team. Individually, six Spartans have claimed NCAA Division III Championships (most recently Cassandra Laios in the hammer throw at the 2019 NCAA Track & Field Championships), and Spartan women have earned over 150 all-America honors over the program’s history.

Not only have the women of CWRU athletics succeeded athletically, but they have also performed academically as well. Thirty-eight Spartan women’s athletes have received Academic All-America honors, while 12 have been selected as recipients of the prestigious NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship.

To learn more about women’s athletics today at CWRU, visit