Released: Dec. 22, 1999
Kitty Baird retires after 40 years coaching and teaching
was state and national leader in women's sports
DANVILLE, KY - Kitty Baird, a Centre College teacher and coach who helped found the Kentucky Women's Intercollegiate Conference, is retiring after 40 years of leadership in women's sports in Kentucky. Baird's retirement from Centre is effective Dec. 31.
The college will honor her with a special program Saturday, Jan. 15, at half time of the Centre women's basketball game against the University of the South. The program will begin at 1:45 p.m. in Centre's Alumni Memorial Gym and will be open to the public at no cost.
Baird joined the college in 1959 after a job interview that included tea with Centre President Thomas Spragens and his wife, Catharine. Baird wore a suit, hat and white gloves to tea, but she recalls that the tea became a very business-like conversation, and Spragens offered her a job on the spot.
The white gloves quickly came off, and Baird dived into the work of establishing varsity teams for Centre women in five different sports. She organized and coached squads for women's basketball, field hockey, tennis, softball and volleyball, creating the core of an athletic program that now offers ten varsity sports for women.
Baird's teams at Centre needed opponents, so she worked beyond the campus to promote women's sports throughout Kentucky and beyond. She was a founder of the Kentucky Women's Intercollegiate Conference (KWIC) and served on the national board that established the first Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics for Women. Baird gained a national reputation for leadership in sports, and she most recently served on the NCAA Division III restructuring committee.
A graduate of Radford College in Virginia, Baird earned a master's degree from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and an education specialist degree from Eastern Kentucky University. As part of her EKU degree requirements, she compiled a manuscript about the history of women's sports at Centre, which she is now rewriting for publication as a book.
Baird's roles at Centre have included physical education instructor, intramural director, fitness consultant and wellness instructor. She was president of the Kentucky Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance and has received that organization's Distinguished Service Award, as well as the W. Walter H. Mustaine Award, which is KAHPERD's highest honor. She also has been honored with the Kentucky Pathfinder Award and an alumni award from UNC-Greensboro.
An active community leader, Baird has been vice chair of the board of directors for the Central Kentucky Chapter of American Red Cross, and she was a 4-H Club leader for 15 years. She has given numerous speeches on health and physical fitness and has published related articles in the Journal of the Kentucky Association for Health, Physical Education and Recreation.
Baird's appointments at Centre culminated with dual roles as associate director of athletics and professor of physical education.
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