Senda Berenson Abbott

Senda Berenson Abbott was the “Mother of Women’s Basketball.” As the director of physical education at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts, Berenson Abbott incorporated the same concepts James Naismith had developed for men into an exercise regime for her all-female classes. Like Naismith, she stressed socialization and cooperation rather than competition. Since vigorous exercise for women was thought unhealthy, she divided the court into three sections and required players to stay in their assigned section. From the time the first game was held at Smith, when no male spectators were even allowed, Berenson Abbott poured her energy, passion, and dedication into improving women's basketball. Author and founder of the first Basketball Guide for Women, she chaired the Women’s Basketball Committee for twelve years and continued to edit her rules guidebook throughout her life.