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hree years ago, the St. Bonaventure
community was blessed by a visit of
four women from the class of 1962.
Pat Dunn, Marge (Ballak) Drake,
Donna (Peppy) Donato, and Patricia
(Mahoney) Dumser returned to the campus
as part of the university's 150th Anniversary
Celebration during which the campus
learned about "The Early Women of
The alumnae shared their stories about
being among the first women to enroll full
time at St. Bonaventure. Their recollections
are captured in a video that is available
online at
Among the many
stories they shared
were their memories
of establishing the
first women's basket-
ball team. From fash-
ioning their uniforms
out of sheets from
their dorm rooms at
St. Elizabeth's
Motherhouse to cry-
ing in the President's
Office in order to
gain better access to
practice and playing
facilities, these
women started some-
thing special that, 50
years later, has
evolved into a pro-
gram they could not
have imagined.
"Classmate Cindy Taylor and I just wanted
to be able to do something physical,"
remembered Pat Dunn. "Our whole first
year, we weren't allowed in the gym. Then
we successfully argued for two hours in the
gym on Monday nights. Out of that grew
playing, then wanting to compete. For col-
leges to support women's basketball and for
it to be a national sport was unthinkable."
Patricia Dumser followed the women's suc-
cess this year, and could hardly believe it when
she heard the Bonnies would be on national
television playing Notre Dame in the Sweet 16.
"All I could think of was
how far we had come as
Bona women... I was not
on the original team, but
remember how all the guys
at school had thought it a
joke. Remember, we were
there in the era of Sam and
Tom Stith, Whitey Martin,
and Orrie Jerele," she said.
"We thought we had made it when the
town bookies took bets on our games,"
Dunn said with a laugh. "It wasn't that we
were looking to change the world. We saw a
need, and we just went after it. We knew
that the culture at
Bonaventure had to
change. We were
not all united about
how it had to
change. But, we
knew there had to
be more room for
the women."
Fast forward to
1971, less than a
decade later, and
there would be a
legitimate, albeit
still fledgling,
women's basketball
program at St.
Among the players
was Mary Jane
"MJ" Telford, '75,
who was inducted into the Athletics Hall of
Fame this June in recognition of both her
playing and coaching accomplishments.
Telford recalled how Butler Gym provided a
"unique home court advantage" for the
Bonnettes of the 1970s.
"Our fans sat on the track above the court
and let their snowy boots drip onto the cor-
ners of the court. I always joked that I scored
at a pretty good clip because I would take
my defender to the baseline, she would fall
on the slippery floor, and I'd get an open
shot!" said Telford.
Telford was named women's basketball
coach following her graduation in
1975. One of her former players,
1981 alumna Mary Piccioli,
acknowledged the happy coinci-
dence of Telford's induction into
the Hall of Fame during this hall-
mark year for the women's team of
"In this remarkable season where
the women's team set record after
record on its way to a program-first
NCAA bid and a Sweet 16 appear-
ance, it is fitting that Bonaventure's
first Division I coach, who guided
the Bonnettes/Lady Bonnies pro-
gram from AIAW Division III to
Division II, then NCAA Division II to
Division I, would be honored with
induction into the St. Bonaventure
Athletics Hall of Fame," she said in
her introduction of Telford at the
June 2 ceremony.
Hilary Waltman, who played from
1995-1999 for the Bonnies and is
the all-time leading scorer, was also
inducted into the Hall of Fame this
year (see page 8).
Telford, who now serves as director
of volunteer relations in the universi-
ty's office of Admissions, paid tribute
to the 2011-12 women's team and
its celebrated coach. "Our embryon-
ic program has developed into a suc-
cessful adult. Congratulations to Jim
Crowley and his team. You made me
and all our former players, managers
and coaches very proud to have con-
tributed to the history of women's
basketball at St. Bonaventure."
To every thing there is a
Former players consider the evolution
of women's basketball at Bona's
University President Fr. Mathias Doyle, O.F.M.,
(from left) is pictured with MJ Telford and Athletic
Director Larry Weise during a 1986 press confer-
ence to announce that SBU women's basketball
was entering Division I.
Women's basketball gained club status in 1959.