Walsh University Celebrates Title IX; Marcy Harper
As Title IX celebrates its fortieth anniversary this academic year, Walsh University still glows in the aftermath of the boom of women's athletics. The Cavs have produced countless female student-athletes who have reached the heights of their respective sports. This is one of many success stories from the vault of women's athletics.
Marcy Harper joined Walsh in the fall of 1982 from Carrollton High School where she was a two-time MVP and first-team All-Senate League performer in basketball and volleyball. She averaged 18.3 points and 12.3 rebounds her senior year, and 15.7 points and 9.3 rebounds as a junior. She would play both volleyball and basketball for the Cavaliers in time that would become a Golden Era for Walsh. Golden because if was in its infancy, and athletes truly played for the love of the game. The university was not quite 25 years old when Harper enrolled in 1982, and women's volleyball had become a varsity sport in 1978 and women's basketball in 1979.
"I ran track, and played basketball and volleyball in high school," noted Harper. "When I came to Walsh it was just for a basketball tryout and they made me an offer. Missy Long was the head coach, who also coached volleyball. And she said she would throw in a few more bucks if I played volleyball and I said OK."
Harper would quickly find out that collegiate athletics and high school athletics were completely different entities. "There wasn't the heavy recruiting that goes on now. They had open tryouts back then, where you would do drills and play against other high school and college athletes. And that's how they saw you play, especially at the smaller schools. I doubt that they even to such things anymore."
Once Harper stepped on the courts at Walsh she became a factor in both sports. The Cavs Volleyball team finished 33-10-2 her freshman year and the basketball won 22 games against only seven losses. The 5-10 middle-hitter became a starter and was voted the Top Freshman in volleyball. On the hardwood, she averaged 12.0 points and 8.6 rebounds, played in all 29 games and earned first-team all-conference accolades.
"My first year, we came in a couple of weeks early for two-a-days. I had never experienced such a thing. We would start early, finish the first session, go crash, and come back for the next session. It was fun, but exhausting."
Walsh was a member of the NAIA and featured strong teams during Harper's four years. Harper's volleyball teams won 33, 29, 42 and 51 matches in her four years. "We'd play weekend tournaments and just play all day. We were good. We won conference championships and were really the first real successful women's program."
"The most important thing athletics taught me was that I had to be organized. I always had to look ahead and organize my day. You always made sure you disciplined yourself and always had things planned out. I'm a mother of three now, and with raising my children and working part-time, and now full time, I found the organizational skills I used as an athlete are still being utilized today."
From August to March there was no break. "No break, when volleyball ended, I went directly to basketball. I didn't realize we played so many matches.” But as much Harper loved volleyball, basketball was really her passion, and career numbers echoed that. She finished her career was Walsh's all-time scoring leader with 1,682 points, a record she held until 2000. She is currently fourth on the all-time scoring list.
The Harper name still illuminates throughout the Cavs' record book. Her 509 points in a single season (1984-85) rank fifth and her 1,039 career rebounds rank third. She is one of only three Cavs' to register over 1,000 rebounds. She is the all-time leader in career field goals with 673 and is fifth in career field goal percentage (.502).
The Harper basketball teams were very successful as well, finishing 22-7 (1982-83), 18-11 (1983-84), 2909 (1984-85) and 19-4 (1985-86). She would earn first-team all-conference honors and all-district honors all four years. Her final two years were extraordinary, as she averaged 17.6 points and 9.9 rebounds as a junior and 18.7 points and 10.1 rebounds as a senior. She was the go-to player on the hardwood, just as she was as a middle hitter in volleyball.
She graduated with her degree in accounting and still calls North Canton home, with her husband, Geoff, and you guessed it, whom she met at Walsh.
Marcy entered the Walsh Athletic Wall of Fame in 1988.
But the story does not stop there. Marcy's daughter is a high school junior at North Canton Hoover High School, and like mom, she excels at two sports. Guess which two? If you said volleyball and basketball you would be correct, and who knows maybe someday the daughter will follow in her mom's footsteps. And by the way, she is a middle hitter and post player.
Marcy Harper, now Marcy Stroemple; one the finest athletes in the history of Walsh athletics.