A Good Sport – Athletes owe Much to Ron Spinney

The MIAA held its celebration of National Women and Girls in Sports Day Friday at Faneuil Hall. It was a nice get-together of student-athletes from across the state. But it’s easy to take for granted, in 2011, the equal opportunities that girls have to play sports at the high school level. However, before Title IX became the law almost 40 years ago, this was not the case by any means.  When you read our Through the Years column and read about the WHS sports teams from 1971 and before, there are no girls sports mentioned for the simple reason that they essentially did not exist.

In Winthrop, interestingly, one of the most influential figures in local girls sports history is a man, and we speak of former WHS girls basketball coach Ron Spinney, who truly was a person ahead of his time.

Spinney was promoting girls basketball and the potential for college scholarships and opportunities at the college level way ahead of virtually everyone else in the area. Winthrop became a basketball powerhouse under Spinney for years and we think of the many athletes, the great Maureen McManus and Lisa Monteleone come to mind, who went on to play the game and excel at the next level. We also recall Ron’s work as the WHS softball coach and the school’s state championship season and how players like Lisa Gill, who went on to play softball at Boston College, and Monteleone again as the star pitcher, brought so much joy and acclaim to Winthrop.

We thank Ron Spinney and his loyal assistant coach, James Nimblett, for having done so much for Winthrop’s female athletes in the immediate aftermath of  Title IX. They truly were pioneers whose efforts more than 30 years ago are benefitting our girl athletes today.

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