Athletics Hall of Fame inducts four new members

| October 11, 2012

Sweet Briar College will welcome four alumnae into its Athletics Hall of Fame during the College’s 2012 Homecoming weekend. The ceremony will take place at 10 a.m. Sunday, Oct. 21 in Prothro Dining Hall.

This year’s inductees are riders Janet Hamilburg Churchill ’53 and Dianna Yaeger Rankin ’66, as well as field hockey and lacrosse player Sally True Dow-Datilio ’80 and tennis player Mary Pope Maybank Hutson ’83.

This will be the fourth class named to the College’s Hall of Fame. In 2006, Sweet Briar inducted nine members into the charter class, including Harriet Howell Rogers, Ann Samford Upchurch ’48, professor emerita Katherine “Kay” McDonald, Anna “Chips” Chao Pai ’57, Mildred “Bee” Newman Thayer ’60, Mary Jane Schroder Oliver Hubbard ’62, Lendon F. Gray ’71, Cannie Crysler Shafer ’78 and Katherine “Katie” Hearn ’85.

According to its mission statement, “[t]he Sweet Briar College Athletics Hall of Fame honors special achievement by alumnae and others who have been associated with athletics at the College. These individuals have helped bring recognition, honor, distinction and excellence to Sweet Briar College and the intercollegiate athletics program.”

Janet Churchill began show jumping in high school and later learned “the finer points of forward riding” from instructors Harriet Rogers and Clayton Bailey at Sweet Briar. In 1952, Churchill was named Master of Foxhounds of the Sweet Briar Hunt, and in 1953 she was awarded the Sweet Briar Blazer, a prize given to the top athlete by Sweet Briar’s athletic association. Photos of her are featured in Captain Vladimir Littauer’s 1956 book, “Schooling Your Horse.” In 1955, she was appointed master of the Groton Hunt Club in Massachusetts, making her one of just two women in the U.S. to hold that post at the time. A national judge with a No. 1 rating, she was head of the riding division for Girls and Women’s Sports of the National Education Association and directed the New England Center in Groton, Mass. Churchill later became a pilot and authored several articles and books, including the award-winning “From Delaware to Everywhere.” In 2000, she was inducted into the Delaware Aviation Hall of Fame.

Dianna Rankin was a member of the Sweet Briar Riding Club and the show team. She later received a scholarship from the U.S. Equestrian Team to study dressage in Germany and was rewarded with a selection to the first Dressage World Cup in 1986, representing the U.S. She also earned a spot on the 1986 USET Dressage World Championships team, later placing fifth in the Grand Prix Freestyle, and won gold with her U.S. dressage team at the North American Championships. In 1987, she was the USET National Grand Prix champion. Rankin also managed an international horse and rider facility, taught equine studies at Stephens College and directed equestrian programs at The Madeira School. She earned her Trainers’ Certification from the U.S. Hunter Jumper Association and a Gold Medal from the U.S. Dressage Federation (1984). In 1994 she was honored by the USET with the Team Master award. Today, Rankin lives in Delray Beach, Fla., where she teaches hunter/jumper and dressage students in the Wellington area.

Sally True Dow-Datilio was a member of both the field hockey and lacrosse teams and also played for the Southeastern National Field Hockey and Southeastern Regional Lacrosse squads. Her national recognition as an accomplished field sport player afforded her many travel opportunities, including a trip to Denver, Colo., for the AIAW/USFHA Field Hockey Championship games. After graduation, Dow-Datilio returned to her native Philadelphia and played for the Merion Cricket Club’s field hockey team before moving to New Hampshire in 1982. While playing for the Northeast Field Hockey Association in New Hampshire, she played in the national tournament. Today, Dow-Datilio helps run a children’s artistic gymnastics school in North Hampton, N.H.

Mary Pope Hutson was a member of the Vixen tennis team throughout her undergraduate career. In 1981, the international affairs major qualified for the national tennis championship held by the Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (AIAW). Hutson has been a member of the National Professional Tennis Registry for 20 years and in 2011 held a USTA national ranking in 50s doubles with Sweet Briar classmate Chris “Christy” Falcon Maasbach ’81. She is the executive vice president of Land Trust Alliance. In addition to keeping up her tennis skills, Hutson travels extensively and mentors young people on their careers.

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Category: Alumnae and Development, Riding