Springfield, Ohio – Betty Dillahunt, Wittenberg University class of 1946, emerita director of athletics, and a beloved professor, coach and administrator at her alma mater for 36 years, passed away on March 26 in Springfield at the age of 95.
Following a career filled with honors, awards and groundbreaking levels of achievement, Dillahunt was most recently chosen to receive the Ohio – National Association for Girls and Women in Sports (NAGWS) Pathfinder Award in 2008. A 1985 Wittenberg Athletics Hall of Honor inductee, Dillahunt was a pioneer in women’s athletics, a fact that was celebrated by the Ohio Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (OAHPERD) and by the National Association for Girls and Women in Sports General Session/Awards that year.
The NAGWS established the Pathfinder Award to “honor those women who have been instrumental in blazing paths for the future of girl’s and women’s sports through their leadership and tireless efforts.” Her many accomplishments made Dillahunt a perfect choice for such an award. During her career, she was affiliated with multiple women’s and sports organizations, including the Girl’s Sports Advisory Committee for the Ohio Athletic Association, the Ohio College Association for Women’s Physical Education and Sport, the Ohio Commission on Intercollegiate Sports for Women, and the United States Field Hockey Association.
Dillahunt also co-founded the Sauk Valley Farms Field Hockey Camp in Brooklyn, Mich., and wrote the book, Field Hockey for Teachers. Barrier, a British manufacturer of field hockey sticks, named the BD#1 sticks after Dillahunt.
A revolutionary female student-athlete, Dillahunt had an intense desire to develop women’s sports when she began her academic career at Wittenberg. Dillahunt rejected the opportunity for an early career with the All-American Professional Girls Baseball League, the association highlighted in the film A League Of Our Own, choosing instead to finish college. After graduation, she returned to Wittenberg and went on to a 36-year teaching career in which she coached an amazing nine different sports programs.
She is the founder of Wittenberg’s field hockey program, which remains one of the most prominent in the Midwest, and in 1972, she became the university’s women’s director of athletics, a position she held until she retired. The Tiger softball team plays on Betty Doughman Dillahunt Field, which was named in her honor in 1997.
“Betty lived an incredible life devoted to championship-level athletic performances and passionate service to students,” said Wittenberg Associate Director of Athletics, Senior Woman Administrator, and Women’s Basketball Head Coach Sarah Jurewicz, class of 1997. “I am not hesitant to boast about Betty’s impact on women’s athletics at Wittenberg and beyond as she paved the way for female student-athletes, coaches and administrators to believe they could compete and work at the highest level in college athletics. She is a treasure to us and a valued piece of our history.”
Dillahunt pitched in seven World Championship Softball games. She also won 11 Springfield Women’s Golf Championships and finished fifth in the 1957 United States Golf Association Championship. Additionally, she played field hockey for 24 years after graduating from Wittenberg, with the highlight being named to the United States Women’s National team.
A gathering of family and friends will take place from 4-8 p.m. Wednesday, March 29, at Littleton & Rue Funeral Home in Springfield. A celebration of her life will take place at 10:30 a.m. Thursday, March 30, at Maiden Lane Church of God, also in Springfield.