BELLINGHAM, Wash. -
"One time Hoyt Gier, a member of the WWU Athletics Hall of Fame and past president of the WWU Foundation Board of Directors, asked me to speak at the Washington Athletic Club," recalled Goodrich. "He introduced me by saying that when he was a student-athlete at Western, playing football and basketball at the beginning of the Title IX era, that he used to think badly of me for pushing for equal facility use for women's athletics. He went on to say that he now has one very athletic daughter and every day while raising her he said a quiet thank you for Lynda Goodrich and those opportunities she helped provide. -- Lynda Goodrich, 2016
BELLINGHAM, Wash. --- On May 6, 2013, Lynda Goodrich, a legendary and trailblazing administrator and coach at Western Washington University (WWU), announced her retirement. She was an iconic figure in the history of Viking Athletics.
During her 26 years as director of athletics, the Vikings won nine team national titles, the only ones in school history, as she guided the program from the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) ranks to Division II of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA).
Prior to that, Goodrich posted a 411-125 record in 19 seasons (1971-90) as women's basketball coach, never having a losing season, reaching post-season play 18 times and winning 20 games 13 times. A finalist for National Division II Coach of the Year honors in 1981 and 1982, she directed the Vikings to two quarterfinal finishes at the NAIA National Tournament; and three regional titles and subsequent trips to the Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (AIAW) National Championship.
Goodrich was a pioneer for women's athletics and was one of a handful of women to direct an intercollegiate athletics program for both genders. For her efforts, she received the Division 2 Athletic Directors Association Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of superior contributions to the profession of intercollegiate athletics.
Goodrich was inducted into five hall of fames, those for WWU (1999), NAIA (1996), Northwest Women's Sports Federation (2000), Lake Stevens High School (2004) and Snohomish County Sports (2011).
Goodrich was the WWU Alumni Association Distinguished Alumnus Award winner in 1988, Whatcom County Sports Person of the Year in 1986, WWU Sports Impact Person and Female Coach of the Century in 1999, the Whatcom County Business Woman of the Year in 1992 and an assistant coach at the 1985 U.S. Olympic Sports Festival.
Goodrich's days as a player, coach and administrator paralleled the women's movement over the last half century. While she was growing up, things were aligning for some major changes in women's collegiate athletics. And when just a sliver of opportunity presented itself, she was prepared to make the most of it.
Goodrich growing up
Lynda was born on Oct. 26, 1944, at Everett (Wash.) General Hospital, the daughter of Brown and Elena Goodrich. From her father, Lynda inherited the qualities of quiet strength, loyalty, integrity, telling it like it is, and a great sense of humor. From her mother came traits such as being goal-oriented, competitive, active and getting things done.
Goodrich was raised on a small farm in Lake Stevens. She was somewhat shy, and remained that way throughout her life, although some might be hard-pressed to believe it.
At the Goodrich household, all activities centered around horses. Lynda began riding when she was only five years old. She attended numerous county fairs and spent countless weekends at the Longacres Racetrack.
In fact, Goodrich put herself through college by working summers as a groom at Longacres. A fond memory of hers were Saturdays when she and her father, who passed away in 1976, would go out to breakfast and then off to the race track.
There were two other Goodrich children, older brother, Terry, and younger sister, Kathleen.
Terry, like any good older brother, toughened Lynda up. An avid baseball fan, Terry made sure that he taught his younger sister how to throw a baseball, so she wouldn't "throw like a girl." Many pick-up baseball games were played in the horse pasture on their property.
Lynda and Terry also got a rim from a barrel and nailed it to the side of the barn to serve as a hoop for basketball. The court consisted of a gravel driveway that sloped down to the main road.
From experiences such as these, Lynda developed her love of sports and a passion for basketball.
At Lake Stevens High School, Goodrich was very active in various clubs and student government. She attended all the boys sports events, but girls at that time were only able to participate in "play days." That was when girls from various high schools would get together and play sports. One rule was that only two girls from the same high school could be on a team, illustrating the fact that these were more social events than athletic events.
The only other athletic competition Lynda could look forward to at LSHS happened just twice during her time there, when the junior and senior girls played a basketball game prior to the boys contest.
Since Lynda was very involved in a Luther League during high school, it was no surprise that she decided to attend Pacific Lutheran University. In fact, she had thoughts of becoming a missionary. She became a little disillusioned during her freshman year at PLU and transferred to Western, where some say she was on a mission ever since.
When Goodrich transferred to then Western Washington State College in 1963, there were no true opportunities for women athletes and when she began collegiate coaching with the Vikings in 1971 the situation wasn't much better.
In the early sixties, there were basically three career options for a woman. You could be a teacher, a nurse, or a secretary. Since Lynda didn't like the sight of blood and was a poor typist, her choice was education.
Originally a history major, Goodrich changed that to physical education after she went to a career day and learned there were no job openings for history teachers.
The athletic opportunities for women when Lynda first arrived at Western included field hockey, which was the "major" sport, basketball and track & field. In college, "play days" replaced "sports days." After practicing one hour, twice a week, a number of college teams would meet at one school on a Saturday, playing portions of games against all the other schools there, and then having refreshments afterwards. Hence, the "punch and cookie" era of women's athletics.
Goodrich played in all sports at Western, but stood out in field hockey and basketball where she wore jersey No.24. Her coaches were Chappelle Arnett in field hockey, Evelyn Ames in basketball and Alta Hansen in track.
These people, as well as Lou Kilby and Margaret Aitken, then the chairperson of the Women's Physical Education Department, became Lynda's role models.
Goodrich's basketball coach her first year at Western was Ann Lewis. Lynda remembers vividly one drill that Lewis taught. It was basically a lay-in drill, with one major difference, that being another player would try to wipe out the player shooting the layup. Maybe this was another attempt at dissuading women from taking part in sports. Whatever, it wasn't a drill that Lynda incorporated into her coaching.
Goodrich's other basketball coach at Western was Evelyn Ames. More than anything else, Ames remembers the facial expression Lynda wore when she was on the floor. Because Goodrich was so intense, she looked downright mad. One official actually said she called more fouls on Goodrich because of that look. In one game after Lynda picked up two quick fouls, Ames benched her until she changed the expression on her face.
Women's basketball at that time had six players on a team. The player with the ball was allowed only three dribbles, and only two players were permitted to run up and down the entire court.
Lynda as Coach
After graduating from Western in the spring of 1966, doing so in four years despite the transfer, Goodrich, only 21 years old, got a job teaching at West Seattle High School. There she was also the advisor for the Girls Athletic Association (GAA).
While Lynda was at West Seattle, basketball and gymnastics became varsity sports for girls. She credits the meetings of the Seattle area GAA advisors for that breakthrough.
"We'd get together and say 'we should have this, and we should have that' and then we would ask the athletic director of the Seattle school district 'why can't we have this?'" said Goodrich. "The constant `whys' forced him to finally give in. He let us get our foot in the door and look what happened."
Over the next five years at West Seattle, Goodrich's coaching skills were honed. She not only coached basketball at the high school, but at a recreation center as well. She read as many books on coaching as she could get her hands on.
Lynda also played two seasons on an Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) team, which was the highest caliber of women's basketball at the time.
It should be noted that five-player rules were used by the AAU and despite this not one of the women participating had their cardiovascular system explode and or their reproductive system damaged. Thus, two more myths about the pitfalls of women's athletics were dispatched.
Because of a badly sprained ankle, Goodrich helped coach the AAU team her third year.
During her five years at West Seattle, Lynda had a 42-3 record, winning three Metro League championships and being runner-up the other two seasons.
Lynda then decided to return to Western as a graduate assistant in the P.E. department, but stipulated that she also wanted to coach and was assigned basketball and volleyball.
Prior to her first season at Western, the college rules for basketball changed from the six-person to the five-person game, something Lynda was very familiar with.
At Western, Goodrich learned a lot from men's basketball coach Chuck Randall, who was also inducted into NAIA Hall of Fame, through conversations and watching his practices.
But what makes this relationship very special is that they coached side-by-side for almost 10 years, during a time when they could have been bitter rivals as women were intent on bettering their programs and men were nervous as to what was going to happen to theirs. Instead they became good friends, with mutual respect for one another's ability and their programs. What could have been a very dividing time, instead became one of unity.
When Lynda began coaching at Western in 1971, the budget for women's basketball was around $700. When she insisted on scheduling more games, the budget didn't increase.
Just as the girls at West Seattle had sold concessions in order to buy uniforms, bake sales were a chief source of revenue at Western for women's sports. The team stayed in people's homes on road trips and got meals from player's parents. It wasn't until the mid-seventies, that Goodrich declared, "I've sold my last cupcake."
"We did car washes and bake sales, but we didn't spend much," said Goodrich. "We had four people to a room and very little food money ... but we made it happen."
Most of the games in the early years were played at 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. in Gym D, the older gymnasium, then known as the "Girl's Gym" or "Little Gym" before crowds numbering less than 50 people.
It wasn't until her second season at Western that the Vikings played for the first time in Sam Carver Gymnasium or the "Big Gym." That was when Western met Washington State in the AIAW Region IX championship game for the right to go to nationals. Nearly 2,000 fans showed up for the contest. At the time, it was one of the biggest crowds nationally ever to watch a women's game.
The rest, as they say, is history. Her basketball program was a picture of consistency, winning, making playoffs year after year, and each season drawing bigger crowds and a widening circle of avid fans. Just as important, her players went on to successful careers in many different professions.
"I never thought of myself as a pioneer, but it happened that I participated and coached at the very beginning of women's sports and Title IX," Goodrich said. "A lot has been accomplished and I'm very proud of the part I was able to play in leading the charge."
While the success was nice, Goodrich makes it clear that the job of coaching was more about developing young women. More than any win total or team accomplishments, the bottom line was people.
Goodrich obtained her bachelor's degree in 1966 and master's degree in 1973, both at WWU. Besides basketball, she also coached golf, tennis, track & field and volleyball during her first 19 years as a Viking.
Goodrich the Administrator
In the 1970s and early 1980s, Western had separate directors for the men's and women's varsity athletics programs. When the two programs merged in 1985, the men's athletic director took over as director of athletics, and Goodrich, then the women's athletic director, became associate athletic director.
Goodrich also made the choice at that time to quit teaching classes and focus on athletics.
In May of 1987, Goodrich became director of athletics at the request of Western President G. Robert Ross. But in November of that year, Ross was tragically killed in a plane crash.
"I can remember having doubts about continuing, it was not easy being an athletic director as a woman at the time," Goodrich said. "I had felt secure because I had the president behind me."
"But then at Ross's memorial, his wife Betty came over and hugged me and said, `Now you make sure that you do a good job because Bob had a lot of faith in you and I know you'll do well.'"
After that, Goodrich felt that she had to continue.
Goodrich hired a number of coaches during her time as athletic director, almost every one having no previous head coaching experience. She seemed to have a sixth sense in that area as they led their respective teams to conference championships and regional and national tournaments.
Lynda was a visionary and a great advocate for women's athletics and gender equity.
"Girls and women have as much right as boys and men to enjoy what sports and athletics have to offer, just as they have that same right in all aspects of our society," Goodrich said.
Western made the move to NCAA II in 1998. During that 15-year stretch under Goodrich's leadership, the Vikings won eight team national titles, one in men's basketball and seven in women's rowing. They also reached the national title match in volleyball, two national semifinals in both men's and women's basketball, and placed second three times and third twice in women's rowing.
During Lynda's last five years at Western, the Vikings won Great Northwest Athletic Conference All-Sports titles and had top 15 finishes among 300 DII schools in the Learfield Sports Directors Cup National All-Sports standings. The Vikings were among the top 100 in all 15 of Goodrich's NCAA II years and among the top 50 for each of the last 10.
Under Goodrich's direction, Western student-athletes graduated at rates well above the national average for NCAA II.
Goodrich was instrumental in rebuilding and reshaping the Western athletics program, helping raise funds for a strength and fitness center, softball field upgrade and the installation of a multi-purpose field, while introducing an annual fund drive, auction and golf tournament to help raise funds for scholarships. Softball and golf were added as varsity sports for women and attendance increased across the board for all sports during her tenure.
Among her top accomplishments at Western, Goodrich listed the move from the NAIA to NCAA II, improving facilities and hiring outstanding coaches and staff as her top accomplishments. She also implemented a marketing program, better game management and refurbishments of Carver Gym including LED signage and a video board.
Along with all of her accomplishments at Western, Lynda also has had a life away from Western. Whether it was snow skiing, tennis, reading, golfing, refurbishing her home, which is fondly called the "Money Pit," or now gardening and bird-watching.
Lynda's philosophy is that you should not make one thing everything in your life.
"I've always been one who looks ahead," she said. "I don't like to look back or have regrets or any of that. There's no point in it ... I just feel blessed that I had such a great place to work and people to work with and be able to have that sense of accomplishment. I feel very fortunate, no regrets."
One of Goodrich's favorite poems is "The Road Not Taken", by Robert Frost.
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, And sorry I could not travel both And be one traveller, long I stood And looked down one as far as I could To where it bent in the undergrowth;Certainly Lynda Goodrich has done that with her life.
Then took the other, as just as fair, And having perhaps the better claim, Because it was grassy and wanted wear; Though as for that the passing there Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay In leaves no step had trodden black. Oh, I kept the first for another day! Yet knowing how way leads on to way, I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh Somewhere ages and ages hence: Two roads diverged in a wood, and I -- I took the one less travelled by, And that has made all the difference.
By Paul Madison who served 48 years as sports information director at WWU from 1966 to 2015
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