The beginning of a Hall of Fame career is sometimes hard to recognize, even when it should be obvious.
Kathy Kelley ’75 Carey was not a varsity letter winner in four sports – not even in one – nor does she hold any state championships to show for her time in Punahou athletics. She played just one sport for Punahou, and she played it for only one year. But even as the first girl to play soccer for the Buff ’n Blue – as a member of the boys team – she never considered herself a trailblazer.
“I just wanted to play soccer,” she says.
Sometimes athletic excellence stands out like a record-breaking track star or the consistent, steady performance of a world-class swimmer. And sometimes it crashes the glass ceiling – as evidenced by two of this year’s 18 inductees to the Punahou Athletic Hall of Fame.
“I think I was a catalyst,” Carey says today. “I didn’t think of myself as doing anything really special at the time, but it created something, and I’m very proud of having done that.”
In 1975, during Carey’s senior year, the landmark Title IX federal gender equity legislation was in its infancy, passed just three years earlier in order to end sex discrimination and harassment in educational activities or programs.
Soccer coach Bob Clague was in his first season at Punahou – and nervous he hadn’t yet proven himself – when he had to deal with a girl trying out for his boys team. But Clague says Athletic Director Ralph Martinson – a 2008 Punahou Hall of Fame honorary inductee – told him to evaluate her as he would any other player, and she did well.
“There was no participation opportunity for me on the women’s side and there was no problem in their mind if I played on the guys’ team,” says Carey. “It was very positive.”
Punahou athletics happened to be ahead of the curve, offering more than a dozen teams for girls when other schools struggled to simply introduce the concept. The year after Carey played on the boys team, Punahou fielded two girls teams. Carey went on to Stanford University – where she again found herself playing on a men’s team before founding the women’s squad a year later.