Skip to navigation Skip to content Skip to footer
University of Chicago Department of Athletics & Recreation

Women's Athletic Association History and Awards


The purpose of the Women's Athletic Association (WAA) is to "encourage close relationships between the women athletes of the University of Chicago in order that they may work together as a body to promote women's athletics."

Membership in the WAA is open to those women currently enrolled at the University of Chicago who have earned a Major "C" or Minor "C" or who are presently participating in a varsity sport.

The officers of the WAA consist of a President, First Vice President, Second Vice President, Special Events Chair, Secretary, Promotions Coordinator and Publicity Chairwoman. This Executive Board is elected each spring for the following academic year by team representatives and members of the current Executive Board.

The General Board of WAA consists of the Executive Board, a staff advisor (Ruth Kmak), and two representatives from each varsity sport. The General Board meets regularly each quarter.

In addition to the General Board, all WAA members are encouraged to attend meetings.



Blanket Award

To receive a blanket, an athlete must compete all years of eligibility, must earn at least three major letters (one during the senior year), and must compete at least three years in one sport. Each star on the blanket represents a Major "C" award in a particular sport. The black stars represent service as a team captain.

Columbia blue
Track & Field, Indoor
Old gold, gray
Cross Country
Swimming & Diving
Royal blue, white
Track & Field, Outdoor
Scarlet red/white
Forest green, white
Kelly green/white






Dudley Medal

Presented to the outstanding senior athlete for leadership and skill in women's athletics. This award is named for Gertrude Dudley, the first Chairman of the Department of Physical Education - Women's Division. Miss Dudley served the University from 1898-1935.

Click here for past winners.



Mary Jean Mulvaney Scholar-Athlete Award

Presented to the male and female senior blanket winner with the highest GPA. The student must be a four-year participant who has won at least three Major "C" awards. Transfer students who have competed for three years and have earned at least three Major "C" awards are also eligible. The GPA will be based on the junior and senior year.

This award was established to honor Mary Jean Mulvaney, former Chairman of the Department of Physical Education and Athletics and a national leader in the development of women's athletics. In 1976, she became chairman of a consolidated men's and women's athletic department, thus becoming one of the nation's first female athletic directors of a coeducational department. Miss Mulvaney, who worked at the University from 1966 to 1990, was always proud of the academic and athletic commitment of the student-athletes.

Click here for past winners.


Patricia R. Kirby Award

The Patricia R. Kirby Award is presented annually to a female senior student-athlete, who - through her participation in multiple sports and/or extensive support of multiple University of Chicago teams, her leadership in the Women's Athletic Association or significant leadership of her own team, and her exemplary service to the campus community - truly honors the legacy of the award's namesake. This award was established to honor Patricia R. Kirby who coached badminton, basketball, softball and volleyball. Coach Kirby, who retired in 1989, was instrumental in the development of women's athletics at the University of Chicago.

Click here for past winners.
* Prior to 2013, the Kirby Award was presented to the senior athlete who received the most Major "C" awards during their career.


Edith Ballwebber Award

Coaches are invited to nominate a qualified member of each class for the award. Nominated students submit an application and an essay to the Edith Ballwebber Selection Committee. The award criteria for selection is total contribution to the athletic program as defined by athletic performance, team leadership, initiative, improvement and contributions to the Women's Athletic Association. Edith Ballwebber directed women's athletics at Chicago from 1937 to 1967. Under her direction, Play Days continued to gain in popularity until the onset of women's intercollegiate play.

Click here for past winners.