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The Lost Years of Maryland Gymnastics

Team’s First Coach Recounts Humble Beginnings Post-Title IX

By Mason Arneson

Two older women speak to a team of seated younger women in a gym

From left, 1974 team captain Marilyn Kostolich ’75 and first gymnastics coach Pat Danoff address student-athletes in the 2024 Maryland gymnastics program.

Photo by Brieanna Andrews/Maryland Terrapins

Long before the University of Maryland gymnastics team headed to its meets at Penn State and Yale in a sleek, UMD logo-wrapped coach bus, the women traveled in two station wagons.

One of them was driven by Pat Danoff, the faculty member who in 1973 posted hand-written signs in the student union and Cole Field House to recruit members.

The team’s first coach returned to campus, along with 1974 team captain Marilyn Kostolich ’75 and former Women’s Athletic Director Dottie McKnight, to mark the team’s 50th anniversary season, which begins on Friday.

“The girls being supportive of each other and being excited to be there, that’s the same,” Danoff said. “The leotards look different, there’s extra coaches, there’s male coaches, but the girls being proud and supportive of each other hasn’t changed a bit.”

[The Godmother of Title IX: Fifty years after the law’s passage, the legacy of Bernice Sandler Ed.D. ’69 endures through the millions of girls and women whose lives she’s changed.]

The program formed in the wake of Title IX, the 1972 federal civil rights legislation that prohibits sex-based discrimination in education programs. While it rapidly expanded women’s collegiate sports around the country, as Danoff recalled, vaulting the program into existence wasn’t easy—or fully documented. Somehow she and the first two seasons vanished from the record books.

Read the full story of how Danoff rediscovered the “lost years” on Maryland Athletics’ website.



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