Minium: ODU Women's Sports Pioneers Wendy Larry, Debbie White Earned Their Way Into Virginia Sports Hall of Fame

April 03, 2019
By ODU Athletics
ODU Athletics

By Harry Minium

Long before it was trendy, or before Title IX became the law of the land, Old Dominion University was a national leader in offering female athletes an equal chance to compete.

More than half a century ago, ODU became the first Virginia school to offer females athletic scholarships under then-athletic director Jim Jarrett. As a result, ODU's women's basketball and field hockey programs quickly became nationally prominent and won national titles.

That history of excellence will be honored April 6 in Virginia Beach when ODU becomes the first school in the state to have two females inducted into the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame at the same time.

Former women's basketball coach Wendy Larry was one of the first female athletes to receive a scholarship at ODU and her induction is overdue. She won 559 games and 17 consecutive CAA tournaments. She took ODU to the NCAA tournament 20 times, to the Sweet 16 four times and to the 1997 national championship game.

Larry was also an assistant on two national championship teams.

She will be joined at the podium by longtime friend and co-worker Debbie White, who didn't have the same opportunities Larry did. The daughter of football coach Dick Harmison, she was raised in West Virginia and Lexington, Va., and attended high schools that had no athletic teams for girls.

Nonetheless, she became enthralled with sports at an early age in part because she was at her father's side while he coached. She became the first full-time female sports writer in Virginia in 1974 when she was hired by the Daily Press in Newport News.

She then embarked on a long career in sports information, marketing and administration that led her to serve on national committees and help ODU host major events, including the first two NCAA women's basketball Final Fours.

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