It will be 40 years since women’s basketball was first introduced at Madison Square Garden as the commemorative event will occur on Jan.4th. Head Coach Lucille Kyvallos lead the Queens College 1975 team to this historic day. How did it all occur?
“In order to promote girls' and women's basketball I brought the AIAW National Women's Collegiate Basketball Championship to Queens College and the New York metropolitan area in 1973,” Kyvallos said. I calculated that this event would serve as a model and learning experience for girls' high schools and women's college basketball programs that were emerging at the time in the area.”
Sixteen teams from all regions of the United States qualified for a spot in this National Championship. Teams from as far west as California and as far south as Texas traveled to compete in this Championship.”
The media response was astonishing due to the work of our SID, Ed Jawarski. Radio, television and newsprint, interviewed coaches and players, and covered games reporting and narrating the results of the games and the exciting level of competitiveness and performances of players and teams.”
Spectators filled the Queens College gymnasium during the course of the tournament games and there was standing room only for the final championship game between Queens College and Immaculata College. It was an exciting championship game with IC beating QC and becoming the 1973 AIAW National Women's Collegiate Basketball Champions.”
The following year in a regularly scheduled game Queens College beat the two-time National Champs, Immaculata College, breaking their 2 1/2 year win streak. This monumental achievement was major news and quickly reached all corners of the country.”
Propelled by the excitement and interest in the 1973 AIAW National Women's Collegiate Basketball Championship and by the QC win over IC, MSG contacted me inviting Queens College to play in the famous arena and to select the opponent of their own choice. I realized the national and historical significance of this opportunity to play in MSG, and, chose as
opponent Immaculata College.”
The day of the game QC and IC took the floor before close to 12,000 spectators. The lead changed hands continuously and the noise was deafening. At the end QC lost to IC by 5 points but the success of this game set the stage for several (I think 4) more years of women's collegiate basketball in MSG.”
The significance of this game in MSG, with the nation watching, was groundbreaking, historical in scope, and a tangible model for young girls and women to aspire. It paved the way, opened up new avenues for athletic programs and athletic development for girls and women to become skillful and disciplined in sport endeavors.”
And now 40 years later this event is celebrated as a groundbreaking occurrence in the history of women's collegiate basketball.”
Bet Naumovski, the present QC Women's Basketball coach will vie a game between QC and
Immaculata. What is Kyvallos’ take on Bet? “She is doing a great job and has lifted the standard of
the program to a superior level of excellence. Her current record of 7-2 and 4-0 in her conference is
very impressive. She did a great job last year and was selected coach of the year in her conference.”
The hype of QC’s team is the Rowland sisters, Madison and MacKenzie, who have been playing
basketball with each other since childhood. They tend to score doubles-doubles in the games.
Madison has gotten much kudos, although MacKenzie, the older one, doesn’t lag behind.
Both are totally excited about being able to play at MSG.
Naumovski has been coaching basketball for about 17 years, four with this team. “I am preparing just
like any other game,” said Bet. “The team is emotionally ready and not overexcited. I did have
experience coaching a team at an arena in Toronto as well as having attended NY Liberty games.
That’s about all in terms of large sports complexes. Aside from exercising, there will be no practice
time at MSG. We are all looking forward to this historic game and representing CUNY.”
The game is part of the Maggie Dixon Classic and is a doubleheader with St. John's and UConn. Floor seats start at $20 and can be purchased by logging on to www.queensknights.com/msg.