Aces pioneer earns prestigious honor
ST.LOUIS – One of the most influential names in the history of University of Evansville athletics has been elected into the Missouri Valley Conference Hall of Fame as Lois Patton was selected for the Class of 2018.
“This is overwhelming and surprising, but I feel that it is a validation of my work at the University of Evansville,” Patton said. “This recognition is a testament to the university and the support it has had for the women programs and how it has survived and improved quite a bit over the years. This is definitely the pinnacle of my career and is very humbling.”
Patton is the pioneer of women’s athletics at the University of Evansville. She started at UE working in the Physical Education Department before joining athletics. She started the women’s basketball, women’s tennis, softball and volleyball programs at UE and she spent time coaching all four programs while simultaneously serving as professor of Health and Physical Education and the Director of the Women’s Sports Program.
“It is great to be able to receive this recognition, especially in the 25th anniversary of women’s sports in the MVC,” Patton continued. “This shows just how far female athletic programs have come, but it is also something that has seen females have new opportunities across the board.”
She was instrumental in expanding women’s athletics at UE to six varsity teams in the early 1980s and coached until 1981 when she moved into an administrative role as Women’s Athletic Director at UE.
While at Evansville she expanded the curriculum as the head of the Department of Physical Education and that work helped the program expand to include majors such as athletic training, sport studies and exercise science.
“We think the world of Lois and are happy to be recognizing her on campus, but this recognition in the Valley is only fitting for her accomplishments and her dedication to women’s sports at the University of Evansville,” UE Director of Athletics Mark Spencer said.
Patton retired in the late 1990s, but continues to play an active role in UE athletics where she serves on the Hall of Fame committee, acts as a photographer and supports all of the Aces programs. The new volleyball and women’s basketball floors are named in her honor – Lois D. Patton Court, while one of the most prestigious awards for the Purple Aces – the Lois D. Patton Award – is given annually to the top female senior student-athlete
In 2016, Patton was the recipient of the John Sanders Spirit of the Valley Award.
“Lois is a pioneer in women’s athletics and her induction into the MVC Hall of Fame is most deserving,” said UE Senior Associate Athletic Director/SWA Sarah Solinsky. “Her vision and passion to create opportunities for female student-athletes at UE has made a lasting impact in the development of what our women’s sports have become over the years.”
Five other representatives of the Purple Aces are currently in the league hall of fame. The others are Arad McCutchan (2004 – Lifetime Achievement), Jim Byers (2008 – Lifetime Achievement), Fred Schmalz (2012 – Men’s Soccer Coach), Krissy Meek-Engelbrecht (2013 – Women’s Soccer) and Mick Lyon (2016 – Women’s Soccer Coach).
Other inductees in the 2017 MVC Hall of Fame Class are Darren Brooks (Southern Illinois), Christian Goy (Illinois State), Mary Ellen Hill (Bradley), Bill Rowe (Missouri State) and Dani Tyler (Drake).
“The Missouri Valley Conference has always been recognized for the great success of its athletics programs, with a rich history that dates back more than a century,” said Commissioner Doug Elgin. “Our MVC Hall of Fame has provided us with an opportunity to honor the student-athletes, coaches, administrators and contributors who have played important roles in the Conference and in intercollegiate athletics.”
The league will conduct its annual Hall of Fame ceremony as part the State Farm Missouri Valley Conference Men’s Basketball Championship next March 1-4. The March 2 festivities will begin with an 8:00 a.m. breakfast, followed by the induction ceremony at 8:30 a.m. Tickets to the 2018 Hall of Fame event – scheduled to be held in the Peabody Opera House which is adjacent to Scottrade Center – can be obtained by calling the league office at (314) 444-4300. Tickets are available on a first-come, first-served basis.
“The individuals we will be honoring in the Class of 2018 are representative of the men and women who have preceded them in our Hall of Fame. They’ve brought significant honor to themselves, their institutions and to the Conference. We are truly humbled to have this opportunity to salute them for their achievements. In a year in which we are celebrating 25 years of women’s athletics in the MVC, we’re excited to announce our six-person class, which includes three women who positively impacted women’s athletics at their institutions.”