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Editor’s note: This is seventh in a series counting down the Top 50 moments in Iowa Hawkeyes women’s athletics history in the 50 days leading up to the 50th anniversary of Title IX in June.
When the Iowa softball head coaching position opened ahead of the 1988 season, Gayle Blevins made a call to Iowa City, but not for herself.
“I called on behalf of my assistant, hoping that they might give her consideration, but they obviously wanted a head coach,” said Blevins, who was the head coach for Indiana softball.
That call had a much different outcome, though. Iowa women’s athletics director Christine Grant instead pried Blevins away from an established Indiana program to an Iowa program Blevins would soon take to new heights.
When Blevins heard the question about her interest in the Iowa job, she wasn’t “entertaining necessarily or thinking about leaving” the Hoosiers. But after “a little more thought,” she talked to Grant’s assistant.
“They got me on a flight,” Blevins told The Gazette. “I don’t know if it was the next day or two days later, but it was very quick.”
Blevins had plenty of reasons to stay at Indiana. She already built the Hoosiers into a softball power, winning four Big Ten titles and making five Women’s College World Series appearances in her nine years there.
Iowa, on the other hand, had never won a Big Ten title or appeared at an NCAA Regional, let alone a Women’s College World Series. She’d be farther away from family, too, if she moved to Iowa City.
But Iowa had Grant, a national pioneer in the fight for gender equity in collegiate athletics.
“All of us that knew anything about sport knew about Dr. Christine Grant,” Blevins said. “To have someone of her stature as your immediate boss, that was very appealing to me.”
Blevins then led the Hawkeyes to four Women’s College World Series appearances, five Big Ten regular-season titles and two Big Ten tournament titles in 23 seasons.
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