The Northwest College Women’s Sports Association (NCWSA) governed intercollegiate sports in the Pacific Northwest prior to the NCAA. The NCWSA, along with many other bodies governing collegiate women’s sports at the time, was run by women. This collection of tournament programs reflects attitudes towards women’s roles in the traditionally male arena of sport and highlights some of the notable athletes performing in a time when women’s sports was growing and organizations like the NCWSA fought to establish intercollegiate women’s sports as a sustainable endeavor on equal footing as men’s programs.
The NCWSA was founded in 1966 in Boise, Idaho as the Northwest College Women’s Extramural Association. In 1967, the organization’s first constitution stated that the purpose of the NCWEA was to “promote and coordinate Northwest extramural events for college women.” The organization governed intercollegiate women’s athletics in Alaska, Washington, Oregon, and Idaho before disbanding in 1982. The NCWSA tournaments also included institutions from British Columbia, although participation by schools from Canada declined over the organization’s history. In 1970, the organization officially switched its name to the Northwest College Women’s Sports Association. As the annual association grew, separate divisions were created based on the size of the schools competing within the association.
This collection of programs provides representations of women athletes during the women’s liberation movement in 1960s and 1970s. While some covers attempt to reframe images of women in traditional roles, others simply reflect contemporary images of female athletes during a time of changing gender norms. In addition, the programs provide evidence of the growth of women’s sports in this era, particularly around basketball, tennis, and volleyball. In contrast, the programs also reflect a once robust participation in field hockey that diminished over the history of the organization. Some programs contain titles or introductions where the organization’s leadership reflects on advances in women’s sports in the Northwest and goals yet to be achieved. For example, the basketball and field hockey programs from 1973 are titled “You’ve Come a Long Way,” which may be an acknowledgement of the passage of Title IX, a measure that codified women’s rights to equal resources in education, including school sports.
While this collection of programs does not reflect a full representation of programs produced by the NCWSA over its history, it does reflect the range of sports organized by the NCWSA and the development of specific sports where the number of programs collected is particularly strong.
Sophia Handel digitized and produced the keyword searchable PDFs. The collection was processed by Steven Bingo and Natasha Miller.