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UW-P honors women's athletics pioneer who 'took a stand'

UW-Platteville honors Collins for her efforts on behalf of women's athletics.

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Posted: Wednesday, May 7, 2014 12:00 am | Updated: 6:51 am, Wed May 7, 2014.

PLATTEVILLE, Wis. -- The University of Wisconsin-Platteville honored a true pioneer Tuesday for her efforts in and out of the classroom.

UW-P named its exercise science room, located in Williams Fieldhouse, the Dr. Patricia Collins Exercise Science Room, in honor of Collins. More than 100 people attended the dedication.

Collins was a professor of health and physical education at UW-P from 1960-94 and is considered a true pioneer in the development of high school and college women's athletics in Wisconsin. Collins began the women's athletics program at UW-P in 1966 and served as the Pioneers' first women's athletics director from 1971-84. Collins is a member of the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference's inaugural Hall of Fame class.

Collins helped found the Wisconsin Women's Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (now the WIAC) in 1971 and served as its president. She recalled a time when there were no high school athletics for girls and women's athletics was forbidden on campus.

"We had to start from the very beginning," Collins said. "Serving on the WIAC committee, I said we deserve it."

Lois Peart, a 1983 UW-P grad, credits Collins as part of a small group of women who started women's sports in Wisconsin.

"She took a stand," said Peart, a guidance counselor at Iowa-Grant High School. "She felt women should have sports and high school girls deserved to have sports. Not only has her impact been here at the university level, but she was one of four or five people or fewer who were the key foundation of girl sports at the high school level."

At UW-P, Collins was a leading force in its physical education, health promotion and athletics programs, according to Dennis Shields, UW-P chancellor.

"Patricia, your campus and community involvement over the years is a model for others to follow," he said during the dedication. "You are a pioneer who helped this university move forward and made a remarkable contribution for generations of young women whose opportunities were expanded through your efforts."

Deb Schulman, UW-P head volleyball coach and assistant athletics director, praised Collins.

"Listening to all of her accomplishments, it's just fun to hear the history and all things she's been a part of, and all the people's lives she's touched," Schulman said. "It's incredible."

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