WASHINGTON, DC – The University of the District of Columbia Athletic Department honored former head women's basketball coach Bessie Stockard and former student-athlete Albrette "Gigi" Ransom of predecessor school Federal City College as part of a 40th Anniversary and Commemoration of the historic 1975 women's basketball game between FCC and the Women's Basketball Team of the People's Republic of China on Wednesday, February 11th.
Interim President, Dr. James Lyons, Embassy of China Counsellor, Zha Liyou, Councilmember Mary Cheh, and Miss UDC, Toi Glover, all took part in honoring and commemorating at halftime this momentous event for both women's sports and international relations between China and the United States.
"It is a privilege to recognize the 1975 women's basketball contest between the Women's Basketball Team of the People's Republic of China and Federal City College," Director of Athletics Patricia Thomas said of the game which was played at Cole Field House on the campus of the University of Maryland.
"While it is important to note that women did engage in high-level competition during that time, international level competition on the intercollegiate level was indeed rare. FCC Head Women's Basketball Coach Bessie Stockard was a trailblazer in many ways. The fact that her program was one of only five teams selected to participate in this historic event is indicative of the national level respect she earned in women's college basketball."
According to Ransom, this game was diplomacy through sports as the game occurred before President Gerald Ford's historic visit to China. She was pleased that the UDC Athletic Department thought to recognize such an important historical event.
"It was very nice tonight to receive such great recognition from the individuals in the crowd, [a lot of whom] probably weren't even born at that time…," Ransom joked during an interview with WJLA Sports Talk show host Alex Parker. "And for them to be able to have an understanding of what actually occurred was quite moving."
The 1975 game commemoration was also held in collaboration with a National Girls & Women in Sports Day celebration. Area youth girls basketball players were offered free admission to the game and an opportunity to get autographs from their favorite Firebird women's basketball student-athletes following the women's basketball game vs. East Coast Conference foe, Queens College (NY). Additionally, both UDC and Queens' student-athletes wore commemorative t-shirts in celebration of NGWSD.
In a matchup pitting two regionally ranked foes and the top-two teams in the ECC, the Firebirds prevailed as a 66-61 winner to earn their 9th straight victory and 20th overall this season.