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One woman’s love for sports, equality transformed the world of WHS women’s athletics

Doyleene Hampton reflects on starting women’s sports at WHS, sees its effects today
Doyleene Hampton watches a gymnastics routine as seen in a photo from the 1977 WHS yearbook. Hampton started women’s sports at WHS. (1977 Wizard)

Over the years, sports here at WHS have increased in popularity, including boys basketball recently competing for the state championship and a sophomore girls diver breaking the school record and placing at state. There are varieties of sports for everyone, giving everyone an equal opportunity. But all good things have to come from somewhere. So where did the equality in sports at WHS truly come from?

Doyleene (Doy) Hampton previously coached and taught at WHS in the 1970s. Back then, men were the only ones allowed to participate in sports. This means there were rare opportunities for women to play their desired sport. But Hampton had an integral role in changing that.

“I was hired to be the gymnastics coach and I think it was because of one of my athletes. They were looking for a coach to continue with her because she was pretty talented. Then, you know, we just recruited some other girls and they came along, and I have to say that we had a lot of fun,” Hampton stated.

She not only started a lot of the women’s sports at the school but also encouraged many girls to chase their dreams. She truly gave girls the opportunity to strive for more than imagined. She impacted the girls program immensely, which still has an effect on girls sports today.

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The girls sports that she brought to the school include volleyball, gymnastics, basketball and track. These sports had a special place in her heart, not only for herself but also for all of the women who wanted to participate at that time.

With the hopes that every girl currently enrolled in athletics is chasing her dreams, she cheers them on from the sidelines: “Hang in there, baby. Keep after it. It’s worth it. It’s worth the time and the effort. You will develop relationships that will go with you the rest of your life,” Hampton stated.

While starting the majority of the sports here for girls, many today don’t know who or where these sports arose from at the school. Digging deeper into the school’s history, Willow Sharpee (10) understands the bigger picture as to where her beloved sport came from.

“Windsor sports have impacted me in a good way. Even outside of the sports part, they teach me to be a better person,” Sharpee described.

Michael Thompson (staff) is one of the many football coaches for the boys football team. Throughout his time working with athletes at WHS, he’s understood more about the impact they hold upon not just boys but anyone who tries out for them.

Doyleene Hampton and her women’s gymnastics team smile for a team photo in the 1977 WHS yearbook. The team had several successful seasons and Hampton is still close with some of the athletes. (1977 Wizard)

“I would argue that just about any woman’s title that’s a banner up in the gym, (Doy Hampton) was the one who laid the foundation and the groundwork for that because she was that initial person who took that risk, started those programs and sacrificed her time,” Thompson explained.

Though Hampton’s name isn’t known to most people, it’s engraved into both the spirit of the school as well as the history. She has allowed women throughout the years to strive for the best and to always hold their dreams close.

As her time spent at WHS gains a larger distance, Hampton still reminisces about the years spent here. Remembering only the best memories, she still can keep in close contact with her old athletes.

“I loved the girls I got to work with and we stayed in contact, a lot of them. There were many benefits. One of them was just getting to know some really special people. The girls have gone on to do wonderful things in their lives and have become really special people. That was a real privilege,” Hampton explained.

Frequently going out or going to bible study with her previous athletes, Hampton said she has gained so much joy by having the opportunity to stay so close to the girls she used to guide through their sports careers.

“I’m getting ready to have lunch next week with one of my former gymnasts, and I’m in a bible study with several of the other girls,” Hampton stated.

With every good thing, struggles come into play. It wasn’t just smooth sailing for Hampton and her dream. She had to withstand the ups and downs.

“When I first started, the boys who were athletes got to get out an hour earlier than the girls. Fighting for time and gym space was difficult right at the beginning. We also weren’t paid commensurately with the men at all. And it was several years down the road before the salary became anything to shout about,” Hampton said.

What exactly kept her going when it was more challenging?

“I just wanted to see every girl have the opportunity to do what she might desire to do — whether she had a lot of talent or whether she might just enjoy being there. I wanted every woman to have an opportunity to do what they wanted to do,” Hampton said.

This story was originally published on The Windsor Chronicle on March 22, 2024.