Dr. Nancy Detwiler has been a most prominent figure behind many accomplishments and positive changes since she began her career at ENC almost 60 years ago. This year marks her final year in the Athletic Department, as she has announced her retirement.
Dr. Detwiler is the current chair of the Exercise and Sport Sciences Department and the Athletic Director. She boasts a career that began in the 60s and has made countless improvements to the college’s athletics programs.
Dr. Detwiler has coached since the mid-1950s. She coached volleyball for 21 years and brought her teams to six NAIA (National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics) National Tournaments, and was named NAIA District V coach of the year four times. Dr. Detwiler ended her volleyball coaching career with an outstanding record of 505 wins and only 179 losses. Coupled with that, she also coached women’s basketball for 13 years and women’s tennis for two seasons.
Dr. Detwiler was inducted into the NAIA Hall of Fame for outstanding achievements in volleyball coaching.
In 1963, ENC’s President Dr. Mann asked Detwiler to create a women’s basketball program, as women’s basketball programs were few and far between. She helped lead the women’s basketball program to success against the incredibly well-established, large basketball teams around the northeast, like Northeastern and BC.
“When basketball started at ENC, the women’s game was played 3-on-3, and it has evolved from there. I watch Division 1 and I marvel at how far we’ve come. When it became a real sport for women here, we had to play Northeastern and Boston College because there were no small schools like ours for a number of years. So it was a struggle to get it going,” Dr. Detwiler said.
When Dr. Detwiler became the pioneer for the ENC women’s basketball team, the job was not easy. Coaches did their own athletic taping, rented game spaces, and had no assistant coaches. The women practiced at 6 a.m. so that Detwiler could also go to her teaching position.
Additionally, the team had no uniforms and a limited budget.
“We literally made numbers from iron-on material and placed them on cheap shirts for uniforms that individual players were responsible to wash,” said Dr. Detwiler.
She has remained an advocate for the equality of women in sports and has worked to change the female athletic direction.
Detwiler then helped to organize and later serve as chairperson of the Massachusetts Intercollegiate Athletics for Women that established guidelines for intercollegiate competition and tournaments.
Dr. Detwiler continued her progress in leadership by creating a Title III grant that would be pivotal to ENC sports education.
“We later wrote a Title III grant into which we folded a proposal for a Physical Education Major. At the time it was done, few [people] on campus believed that we would be approved but it happened. Recruiting became a bit easier because we could attract athletes with playing experience. It also increased the interest for new sport offerings,” said Dr. Detwiler.
Today, Dr. Detwiler’s impact is undeniably apparent. ENC has 12 sports teams, six for each gender. Most coaches, an athletic trainer, administrative assistant, and a Sports Information Director are full-time ENC employees. Male and female athletes receive the same amount of gym time, money per meal, transportation, athletic training attention, and laundry service.
Athletics has changed immensely in the past 10 years, and Dr. Detwiler recognizes the importance ENC now places on athletics.
“We went from driving beach wagons to now traveling by bus and van,” said Dr. Detwiler.
Dr. Detwiler credits her initial interest in learning from others.
“Carroll Bradley was the [Athletic Director] and coach here for a long time, and he was a tremendous teacher. He loved teaching and he loved our students and he loved ENC. I watched all of the men’s coaches along the way and went to their practices to learn. And Carroll made working fun.”
Not only has ENC benefited from Dr. Detwiler’s contributions, but she has personally benefited from her time here as well.
“It has been my privilege to spend my career at a place as special as Eastern Nazarene College,” said Detwiler. “The essence of what I have accomplished is because of the people with whom I work and serve. They are professionals who believe that a Christian education sees no conflict between the development of the spirit, mind and body.”
With her induction into the ENC Hall of Fame, Dr. Nancy Detwiler will be remembered as a trailblazer for women’s sports, as well as for the innumerable advances and accomplishments she has achieved during her time at ENC.