UBC Sports Hall of Fame – Marilyn Peterson Kinghorn

Marilyn Peterson KinghornMulti-sport athlete at UBC and one of the best basketball players in BC during ’50s. First winner of UBC’s Female Athlete of the Year award (Schrodt award in ’60). Member of four Western Canadian University championship teams in three different sports.

Marilyn Peterson’s name first appeared on the UBC sport scene in October 1957, her first year on campus, as a member of UBC’s field hockey team. This team, captained by Charlotte Warren, had just opened the season defeating its two opponents by a combined 26-1 score. Peterson was one of the three top UBC goal scorers over the weekend’s play. The next month, this Barbara ‘Bim’ Schrodt-coached team won all its games at the annual Pacific Northwest Field Hockey Tournament. Marilyn Peterson was the third highest UBC goal scorer for the tournament and the team’s second leading scorer thus far this year.

By the end of the 1957/58 year, the Blue and Gold had finished in the top four in the competitive Lower Mainland League and first year student Peterson, according to the accounts of the Ubyssey, emerged as the top goal scorer on the UBC team with just over a goal per game average.

The next season, Marilyn was again executing her knack for scoring goals. She scored both goals in UBC’s opening 2-1 victory over Ex-Kitsilano. While Peterson was co-captaining this 1958/59 field hockey team she was also a standout newcomer on a strong Thunderette basketball team. She, along with Heather Walker and Gail Leitner, were the top scorers on this Mearnie Summers-coached team that competed in the local Senior ‘A’ league.

Led by the fine play and outstanding scoring of these three players, UBC reached the city Senior ‘A’ finals this season, losing out to the reigning Canadian champions, Vancouver Eilers. Peterson was “tops in both skill and sportsmanship” according to coach Summers who also remembers Marilyn as a star all-around athlete at her Vancouver, BC high school, John Oliver.

In addition to excelling at two Varsity sports this 1958/59 year, Phys. Ed. student Peterson was also a member of the Women’s Athletic Directorate, the administrative body for women’s athletics.

Peterson finished the 1958/59 season as one of two UBC selections to play for BC’s team (Vancouver Eilers) competing at the Canadian basketball championships. In Eilers’ first game of this championship, a 62-31 victory over Montreal, these two selections, Heather Walker and Peterson, led the Vancouver team in scoring. The Eilers dominated women’s basketball in Canada at this time, so being picked to strengthen its roster was an honor, to be among its top scorers was an accomplishment.

In her third year, 1959/60, Peterson was elected vice-president of the Women’s Athletic Directorate and also elected president of her sorority, Alpha Gamma Delta. As an athlete she was concentrating on basketball and track this season. In fact this year (1960) would be an important year for women’s basketball at UBC as for the first time the Thunderettes would win the Western Canadian University championship (WCIAU). Featured on this landmark team would be Marilyn Peterson.

At the 1960 WCIAU championships, UBC defeated Alberta, Manitoba and Saskatchewan to take the title with guard Peterson and center Diane Beach the leading scorers in the victorious championship final game. During this Senior’ A’ season, it was Peterson and Beach who contributed most of the points as for the second consecutive year UBC secured a place in the finals of the City League, likely the best women’s basketball league in Canada.

At the close of the 1959/60 season, Marilyn was named the first winner of the Barbara ‘Bim’ Schrodt trophy (the precursor to the Marilyn Pomfret Award) as the top female athlete at UBC. This newly created challenge award rewarded participation, skill, athletic service and team spirit. Outstanding play on the court together with being Women’s Athletic vice-president and chair of the Thunderette Basketball Tournament had earned Peterson the honor of this initial award, whose legacy is that of accomplishment and prestige among UBC female athletes.

In 1960/61 it was once again Peterson and Beach leading the way for the Thunderettes in basketball. “Sharp Thunderettes take Second WCIAU Hoop Crown” announced the Ubyssey as the 1960/61 UBC team defeated Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba for its second successive university championship and a second basketball championship for its feisty guard, Marilyn Peterson. Meanwhile Marilyn, the all-around athlete, was starting a volleyball career playing for the Thunderette volleyball team leading it to its first Western Canadian university championship – her third Western Canadian title.

Away from the court, Peterson was one of six initiates into UBC’s honorary sorority Delta Sigma Pi. The inductees into this sorority are nominated and selected on the basis of the quality of their scholarship, leadership and service.

One of the prominent athletes at UBC and winner of six Big Blocks, Peterson graduated in 1961 with a BPE. After graduating, Marilyn teamed with other former UBCers including Nora McDermott and Marilyn Pomfret on the Mary McDonald-coached “Alums” volleyball team which was both Western Canadian and Canadian women’s volleyball champion in 1962 and 1964.

Today, Marilyn (Peterson) Kinghorn is retired from UBC’s Faculty of Education. A contemporary of both her student and professional days refers to Marilyn’s “ethical leadership” as a student and that she “has continued to be a very professional person.”

A top field hockey scorer, one of the best basketball players in the city, volleyball star, the first winner of the Female Athlete of the Year award, a member of three WCIAU championship teams in two different sports, a leader in athletics and all at a time when publicity surrounding women’s accomplishments at UBC was difficult to find.

Researched and written by Fred Hume, UBC Athletics Historian