Mary Garner played a variety of sports in high school but maybe her favorite, if she had to choose, was tennis. “I got to get out of classes for tennis, “ she said with a laugh.
In the late 1940s and early 1950s, her participation in sports wasn’t a given. Title IX, the federal law requiring schools at all levels to offer girls and women equal access to athletics, wouldn’t be passed until 1972. The school she first attended didn’t offer athletic activities for girls. “Zero,” she said. “But my brother and a friend of his started at Edmonds High School and I followed them over.”
And when she did, there were all kinds of sports for girls, so she was all in.
“I was immediately drawn to it as a freshman,” she said.
Here is a list of Garner’s accomplishments:
– Competed pre-Title IX in every sport Edmonds High School offered
– Member of tennis, volleyball, soccer, track, basketball, ping-pong, baseball and badminton teams
– President of the Letter Women’s Club 1949-50
– Member of Snohomish County Girls Athletic Association 1947-50
– Vice president of the Snohomish County Girls Athletic Association 1949-50
– Undefeated in tennis doubles her entire sophomore year
– Undefeated as No. 1 singles tennis for two consecutive years, 1948-49, 1949-50
– Represented Snohomish County, defeated Kitsap County for tennis championship
– Earned all points and awards possible for lettering by end of her junior year
Now on the cusp of being inducted into the school’s hall of fame this Thursday, Oct. 5, Garner is thrilled.
“Oh, I love it, for myself but also for the recognition of female athletes. It’s so different today. It’s great that they recognize we old-timers,” she said, again offering her ready laugh.
At age 85, Garner — an Edmonds resident — continues to be active in volleyball, playing two hours or more three times a week in a co-ed group.
“The men spike the ball,” she said. “I used to, but not anymore.”
She’s looking forward to this week’s induction ceremony, accompanied by more than a dozen friends and family including her grandson — Edmonds-Woodway High School senior Nick Olson — as well as her husband and brother, who were fellow inductees in 2015 and 2016.
Garner also plans to see the new movie, “Battle of the Sexes,” about the 1973 athletic showdown between tennis players Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs.
“I remember that whole thing,” she said.
More than that, Garner was part of it, a pioneer that paved the way for women athletes to follow.
The third annual Edmonds-Woodway Athletic Hall of Fame ceremony will be in the EWHS Great Hall, 7600 212th St. S.W. Thursday, Oct. 5. Activities kick off with a meet-and-greet from 6-7 p.m., followed by the ceremony from 7-9 p.m. with dessert and coffee.
Athletes from the former Edmonds and Woodway high schools and the current Edmonds-Woodway High School will be recognized. Inductees include:
EHS 1975 Boys Cross Country State Championship
EHS 1976 Girls Cross Country State Championship
WHS 1985 State Softball Championship
Mary Garner (EHS ’50), Ted Neff (EHS ’50), Dave Hamilton (EHS ’66), Chris Peterson (EHS ’71), Debbie Quatier (EHS ’76), Phil Zevenbergen (WHS ’82), Brenda Dobelaar (EHS ’89), Gerik Baxter (EWHS ’99), Courtney Ellis (EWHS ’99)
Bill Peterson, WHS, Stu Smith, EHS
Admission is free but there is a $20 suggested donation per person at door.
— By Connie McDougall