When Winning Was Just a Bonus:
Frances Hogan Shepherded Female Athletes
At 85, she’s no longer able to hit the
courts or the links, but Frances
Hogan still possesses a certain
energy that makes it easy to imagine her
striding across a hockey field or rushing
the net during a tennis game.
In a feature story about women who were
students at UNC in the 1960s and ’70s in
the January/February issue, the Review
incorrectly reported that Frances Hogan had died in
1992. In fact, the University’s first athletics
director for women and a longtime teacher and
coach is alive and well, and she still sends
pound cakes to the athletics department at
Christmas. The Review regrets the error.
We had the opportunity to visit Hogan
recently at the Chapel Hill home she shares
with her husband, George, a 1947 graduate
of the University. Hogan graciously shared her
memories of her 39-year career as a teacher,
coach and administrator at Carolina.
DAN SEARS ’ 74
When she came to UNC in 1946, she
was one of just four women employed by
the physical education department and one
of only two female coaches. The budget for
women’s sports at that time was negligible,
the staff was tiny, and Hogan was responsible for nearly all aspects of women’s athletics — from P.E. classes to officiating intramural games and driving athletes to games
in her own car.
“We’d teach all day and then coach —
that didn’t count on your teaching time,
you just did it,” Hogan said. “You didn’t get
paid for it, you didn’t get anything. We just
loved all that stuff or we wouldn’t have
done it. I enjoyed it, I really did.”
Still, Hogan says those long workdays —
with little compensation or recognition —
were a struggle. One night, one of her colleagues asked her if she thought “anybody
gives a poodle about what we’re doing.
“And I said, ‘No, I don’t.’ But I really
didn’t think about it. We just did it. We just
knew it was the way things were.”
The battle over facilities in the ’40s and
’50s, Hogan says, was especially frustrating.
The women had no real practice or game
facilities to call their own, so Hogan was
constantly jockeying for venues. She had to
bring a chain and lock to tennis practices,
she says, because if one of the women left
the court for a minute to get water, the
male athletes would take their spots on the
court. The marching band, too, would
compete for her space. Hogan said the
band didn’t just interrupt practices — they
would march onto the field during field
hockey games, too.
“We had Meredith [College] come in
[for a field hockey game], and in the middle
of the game, the band came out and paraded
right into the field,” Hogan recalled. “We
had to call the game off, and Meredith went
on back to Raleigh. The band [members]
were probably told they could use that field.
We were never told what we could use, the
women, so we just tried to find a place.”
When Laura Dupont ’ 72, one of
Hogan’s star tennis players, qualified for the
national women’s tennis championship in
1970, Hogan had to convince Athletics
Director Homer Rice to fund transportation to the tournament in Arizona.
“He asked, ‘Well, is she any good?’And
I told him, ‘Yeah, I think she could win it.’
And that’s what happened.”
Dupont was the first female athlete at
UNC to win a national title.
“When she won the national championship, there was not a word in the paper.
Nothing,” Hogan said. “Now they mention
it all the time.”
As director of women’s athletics (a position she assumed in 1974) and as a consultant to the athletics department, she helped
hire field hockey Coach Karen Shelton,
basketball Coach Sylvia Hatchell and soccer Coach Anson Dorrance ’ 74.
“I didn’t want soccer. I said to Bill
[Cobey, the athletics director at the time],
‘Who in the world are we going to play?’
There wasn’t a school around that had soccer. And so, anyway, we agreed to let him
[Dorrance] try; he said, well, he could play
club teams, and now he’s done more for
soccer than anybody. Anson is smart as a
whip, too. I’m all for Anson. I would say
he’s one of the better coaches over there.”
Women’s coaches today at UNC have
access to state-of-the-art facilities, endorsement deals and coaching staffs.
“But I don’t think they have the fun
that we had. And I don’t think … the thing
we did, it was a little more laid-back, and
so now everybody’s after the win. Which is
all right, why you play is to win.”
Hogan was a formidable athlete in her
own right from high school until well into
her adulthood. She was an avid golfer and
played tennis regularly. But she said her
favorite sport was field hockey, although
she claims the sport nearly ruined her teeth
when she played in high school.
“A girl was getting ready to tackle me,
and she undercut the ball, and it flew up and
broke my nose and a bone in my face and
knocked out four teeth. My mother was
very dainty and petite, not like me, and she
just worried about that, because it took me
a long time to get over that. When I went
away to college, the first letter I had [from
her mother] was, ‘Don’t put your foot on a
hockey field.’ But I had already done that.”