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Editor’s note: This is 11th 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.
It didn’t take long for softball coach Gayle Blevins to do at Iowa what she did at Indiana — win Big Ten titles.
In two years, she gave Iowa its first Big Ten crown in program history.
“It was absolutely awesome to take women somewhere where they had never ever been before,” Blevins said. “You never forget that first time of anything.”
The Big Ten title in Blevins’ second year was remarkably fast for at a program whose previous two coaches — as well as the two coaches after Blevins — had losing overall records.
“So many people wondered, ‘How did that happen so quickly?’” Blevins said.
The “most significant change” was the different level of expectations going into 1989 versus 1988.
Blevins’ first season “was like coaching 18 freshmen,” she said.
“No one knew what to expect,” Blevins said. “No one knew what I wanted to do, so everything was new to them.”
That uncertainty went both ways. The timing of Blevins’ hire meant she was working with a roster recruited by a different coach.
“The recruiting had largely been done, so I didn’t have the opportunity to add anyone to that existing roster the first year,” Blevins said. “Nothing like (the transfer portal) existed.”
By the start of the 1989 season, Blevins saw her players set higher expectations for themselves.
“They were not satisfied to be in the middle,” Blevins said. “They wanted to be at the top. … Our program started to evolve to where it went at that point in time.”
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