Collegiate women athletes got the short end of the deal when Kathy Krucker competed at
"It's so nice to see what the girls have now," said Krucker, who graduated in 1971. "But I'm proud that my teammates and I laid a lot of important groundwork."
How different were things back then? Well, the school yearbook Kathy's junior year devoted two full pages to photos of an olive-pit spitting contest -- and not a picture nor even a mention of the women's swimming team.
"It was just before Title IX and we didn't get much," Kathy said. "We did a lot of car washes and asked for a lot of donations to pay our way. I think the total budget for women's sports was about $5,000.
"We had to borrow our parents' cars to drive to a volleyball tournament in
We got as far as a big tournament in
A middle-distance swimmer and back-stroker, Krucker was also the captain of the UA women's volleyball team and played left field in softball.
Ruth Wynn was her swimming coach, officially.
"We kind of coached ourselves," Krucker said. "We had a teammate who was on the Canadian national team, Jill Keller, and she planned our workouts. Jill's working now at the UA Medical School."
As far as her biggest sports thrill, Kathy said, "going to the meets, winning some medals and just competing."
"We had a great IM (individual medley) relay team," she said. "We won several meets. We had a big day at a meet in
Her big thrill in volleyball was "beating ASU -- that was always a pleasure."
Volleyball was played in the
"They had the swimming pool there, too, near where the tennis courts are now," she said.
"In college, Mary Roby really helped me, and Judy Sorenson was my advisor. I had excellent people for role models and I'm grateful for that," she said.
Krucker had a double major in history and physical education. She taught high school for a few years then returned to UA and earned a biology certification.
In all, she taught school for 31 years before retiring in 2003. She won a Science Teacher of the Year award and the national Christa McAuliffe Award.
McAuliffe was on the ill-fated Space Shuttle Challenger on Jan. 28, 1986. It exploded 73 seconds into its flight.
Krucker taught marine biology at Palo Verde High Magnet School and chaired the science department. She coached swimming and volleyball at
"We had several outstanding volleyball teams and went to the state tournament two or three times," she said.
During her senior year, construction began on the $8 million
Kathy is single. An older brother, Tom Krucker, was also an outstanding Wildcat swimmer.
"His coaches were Charlie Ott and Bob Davis," she said. "He graduated ten years before me, but he continues with his athletic career. Tom and his doubles partner won a handball championship in
Kathy continues with her swimming, as a member of the Ford Acquatics masters team at the Hillenbrand facility at UA.
"I swim three or four times a week," she said. "Swimming saved me -- I had terrible complications with a knee replacement and those swimming workouts were a godsend. It has also kept me fit."
She takes care of her 92-year-old mother, Betty Krucker, a Wildcat letter-winner and graduate in the 1930s.
"Mom still refers to
Kathy goes to swimming meets when she has the time, and always roots for the Wildcats.
"I'm so glad to see the swimming facilities being upgraded," she said. "What Frank Busch has done with that program is amazing. He's a super coach and a super person."
Kathy Krucker is "super," herself.