Highlander History: UCR’s Women In Sports Program

All official participation in athletics by women at UCR started with the Women’s Intramural Sports Program (WISP) in 1963

UCR Women’s basketball and all other official participation in athletics by women at UCR started with the Women’s Intramural Sports Program, commonly called WISP, in 1963. This photo shows a 1965 WISP basketball game from the Highlander.

Welcome to Inside UCR’s newest feature, Highlander History!

Each issue, University Archivist Bergis Jules will present a piece of UCR’s past from the library archives. For more great stories about UCR traditions and history, follow @UCRArchives on Twitter or visit the University Archive on the fourth floor of Rivera Library. 

The UCR women’s basketball team just beat UCSD 89-74 in the Big West Conference, so it’s a good time to remember the sport’s early history at the university.

UCR Women’s basketball and all other official participation in athletics by women at the university started with the Women’s Intramural Sports Program, called WISP, in 1963 — almost 10 years after the university was founded in 1954.

Though early women’s athletics at UCR were primarily intramural sports, intercollegiate or extramural women’s basketball started around 1968, and it seems that games were primarily against the Cal State and UC teams. The name of the women’s athletics program was later changed to the Women In Sports Program around 1968 as well to reflect the change in competition.

wisp_1963-64The early WISP program was a mix of several sports including lacrosse, volleyball, basketball, and swimming. According to the Highlander newspaper and yearbooks, there was a great amount of interest from the women on campus to participate, and UCR fielded some very strong teams.

By all accounts UCR women’s basketball quickly became popular. The team even recorded a victory against UCLA in 1971 and was considered the best UC women’s team that year based on its record. We hope our current team of excellent players continues the long history of success for women’s basketball and women’s athletics at UCR and wish them well the rest of the season. To check out the UCR Women’s basketball team schedule, go to http://gohighlanders.com/schedule.aspx?path=wbball.

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