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UCLA

Start of Women's Soccer

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By Paul Feinberg '85

Published Nov 23, 2011 8:00 AM


art

Margaret MacDonald (then known as Margaret Forbes) arrived at UCLA as a freshman in 1976, wanting to play soccer. But UCLA had no women's program—no varsity, no club, no intramurals. Determined to play, MacDonald (pictured above, peering from behind woman with plaid scarf) and a spirited group of like-minded women formed a team that four years later would finish as the national runner-up in the U. S. Women's Soccer National Collegiate Soccer Championships.

Though Title IX had passed earlier in the decade, the ‘70s were still bereft of opportunities for female athletes. With no "official" team to join, MacDonald made her own opportunities. "I met a girl in the dorms who had played in high school," she says; "three or four of us tried to get a team together."

Their efforts included showing up at the intramural field, kicking the ball around with the guys, including Dan Nannini (above, standing far right), who later became the women's first coach. They played a few games in the area that first season, and for the next few years stayed afloat and slowly grew. By 1979—still scrounging money for refs and uniforms—they were in a league, competing against other university clubs like Stanford and Cal.

"In the fall of 1980, we got a call, asking us to represent California in a national tournament," says Nannini, now a Santa Monica College administrator. MacDonald says the squad practiced twice a day. Judith Holland, then UCLA's athletic director for women's sports, found money to partly support the trip to Colorado and off they went.

The Bruins, who had earned a first-round bye, topped Anson Dorrance's North Carolina team in the semi-finals, before falling to Cortland State. The team that had been a dream of a few girls a few years earlier was the national runner-up.

Last year, MacDonald, now a development writer for UCLA, visited the Athletic Hall of Fame on campus to check out the display depicting the accomplishments of the Bruins women's soccer program. Finding no mention of her team, she contacted the athletic department and began to organize a reunion. At the USC-UCLA soccer match on November 7, MacDonald's team was recognized at halftime for pioneering a program that has become one of the nation's best.

"We were born ten years too early," says Lori (Farber) Taylor (above, middle row center, in blue sweater), MacDonald's teammate who attended the reunion. "There were five people in the stands. You played for yourself, your friends and for the love of it."

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