Brigid DeVries Named 2016 Sue Feamster Trailblazer Award Honoree

LEXINGTON, Ky. – University of Kentucky alumnae and the first female commissioner of the Kentucky High School Athletics Association, Brigid DeVries will be honored with the 2016 Sue Feamster Trailblazer Award on Sunday, Feb. 21 when the Kentucky women’s basketball team faces Arkansas at 3 p.m. ET inside Memorial Coliseum. 

The award, given to those who have provided exceptional leadership and paved the way for others to succeed, will be presented by Feamster, a pioneering women’s basketball coach as well as a national leader on the NCAA steering committee, which helped pave the way for women to play in the NCAA. Feamster, who coached the Cats from 1971-76, received the inaugural award in 2008. Past winners of the Trailblazer Award also include T. Lynn Williamson, Gloria Singletary, Majorie Ann Porter, Ceal Barry, Valerie Still and Pat Dawson.

“Brigid has been a quiet but highly effective leader in women’s sports since our days together at UK,” Feamster said. “Whether she was helping develop the Bluegrass State Games, UK swimming and diving teams or her pioneering effort at the KHSAA, where she established a ground breaking Title IX review of every high school in Kentucky, which resulted in new facilities, better coaches and more money being allocated to girls. She has always been progressive and her work and innovation at every level has been truly amazing. She is a true trailblazer at the national and state level.” 

After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in health/physical education/recreation in 1971 before gaining her master’s degree in 1975, DeVries began her college coaching career at UK when all of the women’s sports were at the club level under the Department of Campus Recreation.  As a graduate assistant in 1973-75, in the early days of women’s sports, she coached the women’s golf team, volleyball team, track team and assisted with the women’s swimming and diving teams.

Along with Feamster, DeVries worked on the first UK women’s intercollegiate athletics budget when she was appointed as the first Women’s Assistant Athletics Director at UK. At that time several women’s sports changed from club level to varsity level with scholarship opportunities offered, and moved into the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics. One of DeVries students, Myra Van Hoose Blackwelder, received one of the first women’s athletic scholarships at UK.

After a stint at Ohio University as the head coach for women’s swimming and diving and track and field, DeVries returned to Lexington to become an assistant commissioner with the KHSAA and was hired as the UK head diving coach for both men and women, which was a part time position in those days. She was selected for the UK Swimming and Diving Hall of Fame in 1995.

In 2002, DeVries was selected as the first female commissioner of the KHSAA until she retired in 2010. At the time she was named commissioner, DeVries was one of three female state association commissioners/executive directors in the nation, joining New York and California.  During her time as commissioner, DeVries directed the KHSAA’s Title IX Program and served on the National Federation of State High School Associations Board of Directors. 

Following her retirement from the KHSAA she became an instructor in the UK Kinesiology and Health Promotions Department (2011-2014) and currently still serves on the Bluegrass Sports Commission Board of Directors, Bluegrass State Games Board of Directors, Lexington Area Sports Authority Board of Directors and Citizens for Sports Equality President. 

Single-game tickets are $9 for all ages, while adult general admission single-game tickets are $8. For those aged 6-18 or 65-and-over, general admission costs are $5 per ticket. Children age five-and-under are admitted free in the general admission seating area, and UK students, faculty and staff are admitted free with valid identification. Tickets are available online at ukhoopstix.com, while parking and other information is available at ukathleticsgameday.com/hoops. 

For more information on the Kentucky women’s basketball team, visit UKathletics.com or follow @UKHoopCats on Twitter and Instagram, or Kentucky Women’s Basketball on Facebook.