Until Diana Marks arrived on campus in 1957, Whitworth’s primary athletics outlets for women were “play days” and intramural sports. Throughout Marks’ 27-year Whitworth coaching career, she worked to provide competitive-sports opportunities for female students. She coached women’s volleyball, basketball and tennis each year for 18 years; to this day she remains the “winningest” coach in Whitworth’s history (her 1968 basketball team even beat Washington State University’s). Marks also served as academic chair of the physical education department from 1977-87.
Marks was instrumental in changing entrenched attitudes toward women competing in athletics. At one point, Whitworth was even blackballed by the Western Society of Physical Education for College Women because its competitive scheduling was “too much like varsity.” Marks proved that women could excel in sports, and Whitworth has since been home to hundreds of strong, competitive, and talented women athletes.
In 2000, the Diana Marks Softball Field opened for use by Whitworth’s varsity women’s softball team. The facility includes in-ground dugouts, batting cages, bleachers, and changing rooms, as well as a state-of-the art scoreboard and a press box, shared with the Whitworth’s soccer program, that houses a filming/viewing station above and a concessions stand on field level.