August 23, 2023 

Locked on Women’s Basketball: 1976 silver medalist and Naismith Hall of Famer Gail Marquis talks Olympics, WBL and HOF

Gail recaps the ceremony and discusses her favorite basketball memories with Natalie Heavren

On this episode of the Locked On Women’s Basketball podcast, host Natalie Heavren is joined by freshly-minted Hall of Famer Gail Marquis. She played on the 1976 Olympic women’s basketball team which won a silver medal. It was the first year that women’s basketball was included in the Olympic games, and that team was recently inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

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The two also discussed her college career at Queens College, years with the New Jersey Gems of the Women’s Basketball League (WBL) and top memories from the Olympics.

Gail Marquis talks about being inducted into the Hall of Fame and what that moment meant to her:

“What that moment was, I was telling my friends, I was really trying to get that moment just to slow down because so much was coming at me. From the time we got the word back in April that we had been selected. Right up until the moment when it finally built up and we’re on stage and our co-captain Julian is reading about us. And it’s just so real to look out to the audience and to say it’s finally happened. And by that, I mean, what ballplayer doesn’t think about going into the Naismith Hall of Fame? I’ve been inducted. I’m so gracious to have been inducted into my Queens College Hall of Fame and the New York City Basketball Hall of Fame. But to have this Naismith, which to me is the National Hall of Fame, to be selected. And inducted enshrined is just one of the top honors of my career.”

Gail Marquis talks about the younger generation and what they learned about the history of the game and her team being inducted into the Hall of Fame:

“I think they learned perseverance. And you know what I enjoyed at the VIP reception, which we had prior to walking the red carpet and going into Symphony Hall for the actual instrument. And even the day before, I met quite a few fathers, I met quite a few fathers, some Hall of Famers themselves, others were nice looking guys who came up and said, thank you for what you did. I have a daughter; she’s 17, she’s in high school, she’s playing, she’s on her way, and she never could have done it without you. And I didn’t want to say it. I just said thank you. But in essence, you’re so right. If we haven’t had done what we did, if we hadn’t gotten knocked down, or if we had not challenged the status quo.

If we had not challenged the fact that Title Nine was in effect, and whatever money you spent on a boys’ or men’s program, you need to spend it on a women’s program, a girls’ program. A girl’s recreational league, a girl’s high school team. So to those fathers who acknowledged and understood, I say, thank you so much. Thank you for being allies. Thank you for coaching your girls’ basketball team, or soccer team, or softball team, thank you for stepping up and coaching a girls’ team. When it wasn’t that advantageous, it probably wasn’t profitable. But you know, you took your place as one of our allies. And look, now your daughter has a chance for a scholarship. Your daughter has a chance to learn the sport that you loved, or one of the sports you love. Your daughter has a chance to be a leader because that’s what playing sports, especially team sports, teaches you: how to be a leader and stand up to leaders and fill that leadership role. So it’s still a very good moment. And I applaud the boys and girls who acknowledged it to young people now they realize it. And they’re hearing more than understanding more.”

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