Rawlsky-Willett enshrined at Beaver Dam High
PLYMOUTH, N.H. – The longest tenured head women's tennis coach in Plymouth State University history was enshrined in her high school Athletic Hall of Fame on September 28.
Barbara Rawlsky-Willett, currently in her 15th season leading the Panthers, was one of three former athletes to be inducted into the Beaver Dam (Wis.) High School Athletic Hall of Fame during a ceremony as part of the school's Homecoming festivities recently.
"It was a wonderful experience," said Rawlsky-Willett. "I don't know if it's really registered yet. It is very humbling because I wasn't the only one doing the groundbreaking. Women all over were trying to get opportunities at the time. Women's and girl's athletics ending up being a big part of my life."
Rawlsky-Willett was a pioneer in girls' high school sports at Beaver Dam, competing in Girl's Athletic Association field hockey, volleyball, basketball, softball and track & field from 1966-70. During her senior year she competed in the hurdles and long jump at the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association (WIAA) state track & field meet. Over her time at Beaver Dam she was also a varsity cheerleader, homecoming queen, a senior honor roll student, and member of the band, chorus and orchestra, all before Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 was passed into law.
After leaving BDHS, Rawlsky-Willett attended the University of Florida where she was a member of the Gators' first women's track & field team. She transferred to the College of St. Catherine (Minn.), now St. Catherine University, for the spring semester where she continued to excel as an athlete, competing in field hockey, volleyball, basketball and tennis. On the tennis court she played at No.1 singles all four years. She graduated from St. Catherine in 1974 with a degree in physical education, a health minor and a coaching certificate.
|Rawlsky-Willett at halftime of the BDHS football game|
She immediately put her background in athletics to good use, coaching multiple sports at several high schools in Minnesota prior to moving to New Hampshire. Rawlsky-Willett served as the girls' tennis coach at Plymouth Regional High School from 1984-2012, leading the program to a 235-125 record (.653) over her 29 years atop the program. In 1989 she guided her PRHS doubles team to the state championship, while also leading the Bobcats to undefeated seasons (16-0) and runner-up finishes in the state team tournament in both 1993 and 1999. She was inducted into the New Hampshire Interscholastic Athletic Association (NHIAA) Coaches Hall of Fame in 2010.
Rawlsky-Willett joined the Panthers as an assistant coach in 2003 and one year later was promoted to the head coach position where she found immediate success. Plymouth State captured its first Little East Conference Tournament championship in her first year as head coach and, in 2005, she guided the program to a regular season title. She also led the Panthers to a tournament championship in 2006, resulting in the program's first NCAA Division III Women's Tennis Championship tournament appearance.
Early in 2011, during her eighth season, she became the program's all-time winningest head coach and ended the season with a then program-record ten wins. Plymouth State enjoyed its best season in program history in 2014, when Rawlsky-Willett steered the team to an undefeated regular season (14-0), LEC regular season and tournament titles and a second NCAA appearance. She captured her 100th career win in 2017, and currently holds a 112-84 mark.
Over her 15 years at PSU, Rawlsky-Willett has coached numerous All-Little East Conference selections, the LEC Rookie of the Year in 2009, 2014 and 2017, and the conference Player of the Year in 2014 and 2015. Several of her athletes have also been selected as PSU Athletic Department major awards winners for academic success, community service and leadership.
PSU is currently in the midst of yet another impressive season, holding a 9-2 record (6-1 LEC) while riding a seven-match winning streak. The Panthers close the regular season with a pair of contests his week. PSU visits Southern Maine on Wednesday (Oct. 10) before hosting Bridgewater State in a Senior Day match on Saturday (Oct. 13) at 1:00 p.m. at the Holderness School Courts.
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