Jan. 31, 2014
LEXINGTON, Ky. – In conjunction with National Girls and Women in Sports Day on Sunday, Feb. 2 for the Wildcats’ game vs. 14th-ranked LSU, the University of Kentucky women’s basketball program will honor Pat Deacon, a former UK alumna and long-time athletics administrator, coach and professor at Transylvania University in Lexington, Ky., by giving her the seventh annual Sue Feamster Trailblazer Award.
The award, given to those “who have provided exceptional leadership and paved the way for others to succeed,” will be presented by Feamster, UK’s first women’s athletics director and another pioneering women’s basketball coach, as well as a national leader on the NCAA steering committee who helped pave the way for women to play in the NCAA. Feamster, who coached the Cats from 1971-76, received the inaugural award in 2008.
“Pat was a great leader in the Title IX movement 41 years ago,” Feamster said. “She worked extensively with the Kentucky Women’s Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, which was our playing conference before we joined the NCAA. She chaired many committees over the years. Pat also worked diligently to convince Transylvania to sponsor women’s athletic scholarships. At the time, Transy was one of the few NAIA schools to have scholarships for women. She counseled me throughout my career at UK, providing encouragement and shaping my vision. She was a tremendous friend and mentor. It will humble me to present her the award.”
When Deacon, who earned both an A.B. and an M.A. in physical education, was a student at Kentucky in the 1950s, there were no intercollegiate sports programs for women, at least not as we know them today. Women who enjoyed athletic competition could participate in sports organized under the auspices of the Physical Education Department. There were no uniforms, no training facilities and no coaches. But there were occasional games against nearby colleges, and Deacon took advantage of the opportunity to play basketball and field hockey.
It was not until the passage of Title IX in 1972 that women slowly began to have equal access to sports programs, sports funding and regular competition. That was the same year that Deacon arrived at Transylvania, where she blazed the trail for women’s athletics until her retirement in 1999.
During that period, Deacon served at various times as women’s athletics director, associate athletics director, women’s intramural sports director and physical education professor, in addition to her head coaching positions. She pioneered the modern era of women’s basketball at Transylvania, leading the team through 16 seasons and more than 150 wins. Over 29 seasons, her field hockey teams set the standard among Kentucky colleges, especially with their 98-55-3 record from 1979-88, when they won eight state championships in a row.
Deacon was elected to Transylvania’s Pioneer Hall of Fame in 2000.
Since retiring in 1999, Deacon has found more time to pursue active interests. Between 1999 and 2013 she and her husband, Jack, biked about 48,000 miles on tandem bicycles throughout the U.S. and in Europe. And don’t think they’re slowing down. The two logged their greatest number of miles in 2013—3,800. They also sponsor annual cycling adventures throughout Central Kentucky.
In addition to cycling, Deacon currently enjoys basketball, table tennis and pickleball. She has amassed 82 medals in the three sports at Florida’s Senior Games.
Previous Trailblazer Award winners are: Feamster (2008), Gloria Singletary (2009), Marjorie Ann “Mimi” Porter (2010), Ceal Barry (2011), Valerie Still (2012) and UK’s first women’s sports coaches (2013).
ingle-game reserved tickets cost of $9 for all ages. General admission tickets for adults are $8 while single-game general admission tickets for seniors and children (ages 6-18, 65 and over) are only $5. UK faculty, staff and children ages five and under are admitted free in the general admission seating area, while supplies last.