Former player reflects on memories of the Mother of Wilkes’ Women’s Athletes

Cabrini Rudnicki, News Editor

Earlier this summer, the Wilkes community lost one of its most influential and loved members.

Longtime Colonel and women’s sports pioneer, Doris Saracino, died on June 2. Her funeral was held June 7 in Kingston.

Saracino, who worked with the university for 34 years, bravely fought for the inclusion of women in sports. She helped to changed the rule book, adding women onto the playing field even before the creation of Title IX, a federal law in 1972 which prevented discrimination based on gender.

Although Saracino was a gymnast, and not a master of a team sport, she established and coached many sports for women at the university. Starting in the 1960s, Saracino developed the first women’s basketball team before later discovering the need for other sports, including volleyball, field hockey, and softball.

Later, in 1984, she was part of the women’s volleyball rules committee for the Los Angeles Olympics.

Saracino is credited as a pioneer for women’s sports and was inducted into the Wilkes University Athletic Hall of Fame in 1995, as well as the Middle Athletic Conference Hall of Fame in 2010. Through her work Saracino also gained the affectionate nickname of “Mother of Wilkes’ Women’s Athletes.”

One of her past athletes, Dr. Sandra Bloomsburg, played basketball for Saracino and went on to become the only female basketball player at Wilkes to have her number retired. Bloomsburg was filled with praise and admiration for the late coach.

Without doubt, Dorie was committed to excellence in sports, yet her more enduring gifts, I believe, were her high expectations and the example she set concerning integrity, loyalty, hard work, and persistence.”

Bloomsburg, as with many of Saracino’s past athletes, kept in contact with her through letters, email, and facebook.

“She genuinely cared about her athletes,” Bloomsburg recalled. “My fondest memories weren’t just coaching related, but rather our friendship with each other. We could sit and talk for hours.”

After Bloomsburg finished college, she followed Saracino’s footsteps and became a coach for the Wilkes’ women’s basketball team.

“Doris was an amazing woman. Her passion and personal strength has inspired me my entire life, and I’m sure she inspired others as well.”