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Pioneer for women inducted in St. F.X. Sports Hall of Fame

Jane Hanley-MacGillivray receives her St. F.X. Sports Hall of Fame plaque from President Kent MacDonald (left) and Director of Athletics and Recreation Leo MacPherson. Paul Hurford
Jane Hanley-MacGillivray receives her St. F.X. Sports Hall of Fame plaque from President Kent MacDonald (left) and Director of Athletics and Recreation Leo MacPherson. Paul Hurford - Corey LeBlanc

Jane Hanley-MacGillivray, a pioneer in women’s sports, is now a member of the St. F.X. Sports Hall of Fame.    

“I am just amazed to stand here – 50 years later – to receive this recognition and this honour, especially as a builder,” she said.    

She added she was “just delighted that so many women are joining me tonight,” including fellow inductees the 2006 X-Women rugby team, which Hanley-MacGillivray acknowledged with a wide smile and double thumbs up.    

Before putting her stamp on women’s sports as a builder, she excelled as an athlete, including as player-coach of the Antigonish Scots, a team that captured a senior national basketball crown in 1964.    

Hanley-MacGillivray, who coached the Mount Saint Bernard College squad from 1964 to 1968, was hired as the school’s director of women’s athletics in 1965.    

“I am credited with a lot of things, but this all started with the Congregation of Notre Dame (CND), when they decided to hire me to coach and then hired me to do several other things,” she said.    

Along with basketball, Hanley-MacGillivray coached several other sports, including volleyball, field hockey and badminton.    

“And teach the 101 course that I knew nothing about,” she noted, with a laugh.    

Peggy Gallant, who read her friend’s citation, said “Jane helped to lay the foundation for women’s sport at St. F.X.” 

As an example of her ingenuity and determination, Gallant reflected on how Hanley-MacGillivray brought field hockey to the campus, which came after a week-long visit to Maine.    

To fill the need for cleats, she ordered Oxfords from the Sears catalogue and had St. F.X. maintenance staff fit them with cleats.    

“Someone who always displayed exceptional agency; if something needed to be done, Jane did it,” Gallant said.    

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Hanley-MacGillivray was at the forefront of the push for changes to women’s basketball which, at that time, was played with six players and not full court, because the ‘powers-that-be’ that governed the sport thought it was ‘too challenging’ for women.    

“Jane never got the memo,” Gallant said, noting her teams played full court and with five players aside.      

Hanley-MacGillivray and other female athletic directors from across the Maritimes pushed for change.    

“With great cooperation, these pioneers advocated for unified rules of play, extended organized leagues and tournaments, referee development and much more,” Gallant said.    

“Their deliberations and efforts to improve the female athletic experience would impact how women athletes at institutions of higher learning could enjoy an athletic experience that would contribute to their development and have a lasting effect for years to come.”

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