LincolnWay Community Foundation honors former coach with charitable fund
For immediate release
In 1967, there were no girls athletics at Central DeWitt High School. Enter Pam Duncan, then a recent graduate of the University of Iowa, who joined the faculty and began a career focused on making a difference in the lives of young women for the next 30 years.
“When I came to DeWitt I couldn’t believe that there were no athletics for girls — none at all. The girls were in the bleachers watching the guys,” the now-retired physical education teacher recalled. “There were lots of talented kids who were athletically inclined and loved competition, yet they had nothing to express that.”
Because of Pam, Central girls today have many opportunities to play competitive sports. Her legacy grows both through the girls’ athletic achievements as well as a new endowment fund established in her honor. The Pam Duncan Endowment for Women’s Sports at Central DeWitt High School was recently established with the LincolnWay Community Foundation, an affiliate of the Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque, and will support equality in school athletics at Central forever.
As a physical education teacher, Pam shared her own love for basketball. Her father, a school board member, helped bring girls basketball to Columbus Junction while Pam was a student there. “I had played basketball competitively in school since the sixth grade, and that was the highlight, absolutely, of my high school career,” she said. “I shared my story during our basketball unit in P.E., and the girls came up to me and said they’d like to play, too.”
Dressed in navy t-shirts with numbers taped to their backs, Central’s first girls basketball players played against Pleasant Valley High School of Davenport and their own teachers. They practiced every day at 6 a.m. “When we started, I was not of the attitude that we should have everything all at once. I felt that we had to deserve that. I went slowly,” Pam said. “We didn’t have a lot of help, but we had kids who were very enthusiastic about the program. There was resistance with an old school of thought, and I respected that because it was a different era. At the same time, I tried to work around it, and I was able to do that.”
Over the next several years, Pam eased the school into girls athletics — driven entirely by her students’ desire for competitive sports. The girls took a signed petition to the school board in 1970, which encouraged the board to approve girls track and softball.
In 1973, Pam coached girls volleyball, basketball and track. “I only did that once,” she said with a laugh. She continued to coach volleyball for 25 years and basketball for 30, retiring from both coaching and teaching in 1999. While teaching, she served on the state volleyball advisory committee and was an active member of a professional group for physical education teachers.
Reflecting on the decades of students she coached, Pam considers teamwork to be one of the most valuable lessons athletics can teach. “Everyone has so much to contribute,” she said. “I think the kids really like the team aspect.” She also noted that athletics benefit young women by building work ethic, helping them practicing self-care, and teaching good sportsmanship.
“I gained so much that I’m thankful for from coaching. It was fun to see these young people who worked so hard and were able to contribute so much, and it’s fun to see them and talk to them now when they come back,” said Pam. “Many who were in athletics have done wonderful things, and I hope part of that was the experience they had in athletics. I was fortunate, and I hope the kids feel that they were fortunate in having athletics also.”
To make a contribution to the Pam Duncan Endowment for Women’s Sports at Central DeWitt High School, click here. Or, contact Pat Henricksen, executive director of the LincolnWay Community Foundation, at 563.659.5039 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
# # #
An affiliate of the Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque, the LincolnWay Community Foundation assists in charitable projects and programs that contribute to the quality of life in rural Clinton County, Iowa. The foundation provides grants, scholarships, tax benefits and administrative services to nonprofits, churches, schools and individuals with charitable intent in Calamus, Charlotte, Delmar, DeWitt, Goose Lake, Grand Mound, Lost Nation, Low Moor, Welton and Wheatland. To learn more, visit dbqfoundation.org/lincolnway.
# # #
The Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque strengthens communities and inspires giving. For more information, call 563.588.2700 or visit dbqfoundation.org.