Pioneer In Girls Athletics Dies

May 16, 2013 / GolfSwimming

The longtime Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union Executive Secretary passed away Saturday at the age of 90.

Edward Wayne Cooley was born in Mercer, Mo., on Sept. 16, 1922. He married Gertrude “Gerry” Konkol in 1944 and had two children, Craig and Denise. After Gerry’s death in 1982, he married Wendy Wykoff in 1987.

Dr. Cooley was raised Coon Rapids, Iowa. Dr. Cooley earned a collegiate degree from Buena Vista University and later received Honorary Doctorates from Morningside College and Buena Vista.

A Commissioned Naval Officer during World War II, he returned to Iowa, coaching football and track at Nevada. In 1950, he served as an instructor for one year at Grinnell College and next served as Assistant to the President at Grinnell for three years.

In 1954, Cooley accepted the assignment as Executive Secretary of the Iowa Girls’ High School Athletic Union, which embraced one interscholastic activity at the time, basketball. In the following 48 years under Cooley’s leadership until his 2002 retirement, the IGHSAU expanded to include track and field, cross country, softball, golf, swimming, tennis, volleyball and soccer, with many of those programs flourishing well before the implementation of Title IX legislation.

During his tenure, the Iowa Girls’ High School Athletic Union has been the nation’s trailblazer in the development of girls’ interscholastic athletic programs. A 1973 three-part Sports Illustrated cover story on the limited access girls had in athletics during the wake of the Title IX passage used Iowa and the IGHSAU as a model of proof to the viability of equality for girls and women in sport.

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