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Senda Berenson Abbott - Berenson's Legacy

Famous Sports StarsOther SportsSenda Berenson Abbott Biography - Need For Physical Education For Women, Different Rules For Women, Wrote The Definitive Rules Book - SELECTED WRITINGS BY BERENSON:

Berenson's Legacy

Berenson's legacy has not been forgotten. Since her death she has been honored for her valuable role in creating and promoting women's basketball. In 1984, she was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame and International Women's Sports Hall of Fame for her many contributions to the game. In the same year, Berenson and women's basketball coach Margaret Wade were the first two women elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame.


1868 Born March 19 in Biturmansk, Lithuania, to Albert and Julia Valvrojenski
1890 Enrolls in the Boston Normal School of Gymnastics
1892 Begins teaching physical training at Smith College
1892 Introduces basketball to female students at Smith College
1893 Organizes the first women's basketball match. Helps to organize Smith College's Gymnastics and Field Association
1895 Introduces fencing to Smith College
1897 Becomes the second American woman to attend the Royal Central Institute of Gymnastics in Stockholm, Sweden
1899 Member of Women's Basketball Rules Committee, which writes rules for women playing basketball
1899 Chairs the American Association for the Advancement of Physical Education Committee on Basketball for Girls
1905 Chief organizer of the Basketball Committee for Women
1911 Marries Smith College English professor Herbert Vaughn Abbott
1911 Directs physical education at Mary A. Burnham School
1921 Retires from teaching and travels to Europe to study art and music
1929 Moves to Santa Barbara, California
1954 Dies on February 16 in Santa Barbara

The Women's Basketball Coaches Association in 1984 created the Jostens-Berenson Service Award to recognize those who are committed to women's basketball. The Women's Basketball Hall of Fame in Knoxville, Tennessee, inducted Berenson in 1999 and erected a lifelike animatronic figure of her. The WNBA honored her for her commitment "to providing women with the same opportunities that were available to men." Her alma mater Smith College dedicated the Berenson Dance Studio in her honor and maintains an archive of her writings.

Women's basketball has become one of the most popular team sports for women in the United States. Today more than 1,000 colleges sponsor women's basketball teams.

Although by today's standards, Senda Berenson needlessly restricted the roughness of play and competitive nature of basketball for women, she still must be credited for single-handedly introducing the sport to a segment of the population that might otherwise not have considered daring to participate in it. She inspired young women to be athletic at a time when they were told they should have been dainty. Berenson committed her life to training women in sport and earned her place in the history of women's athletics.

Awards and Accomplishments

1984 Inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame and the International Women's Sports Hall of Fame
1984 Women's Basketball Coaches Association creates the Jostens-Berenson Award
1999 Inducted to Women's Basketball Hall of Fame in Knoxville, Tennessee

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