Women's basketball began on Morningside Heights at Barnard College in 1975. Under the guidance of Joan LiCastro from 1975-77, the program continued to grow. Pat Samuel coached Barnard's Division III team for one season before Nancy Kalafus took the helm in 1979. Kalafus guided the team through the transition toward the Columbia-Barnard Athletic Consortium, when Columbia became coeducational in 1983. Kalafus coached the team from Division III to Division I status, which it achieved in 1986-87.
Kalafus led the Lions to the New York State AIAW State Championship and their first-ever NCAA bid in 1985-86. That year marked the Light Blue's winningest team ever with a 21-6 record. During her career, she coached both of Columbia's All-Americans, Nora Beck (1983) and Ellen Bossert (1985).
Kerry Phayre took over the program after Kalafus and found limited success with the Lions. Phayre saw only 18 wins from 1991-1996 and left the program to Jay Butler.
Butler helped revitalize Columbia’s women’s basketball team and remains as the school’s all-time winningest coach at the Division I level. A player was named All-Ivy League on eight occasions during his tenure and the team won a then-program record six games in Ivy League play on four separate occasions. Butler coached Shawnee Pickney ‘01CC, a three-time All-Ivy League honoree, and Sue Altman ‘05CC who was named to the All-Ivy League First Team in her junior season for the Lions.
In the spring of 2005, Paul Nixon was brought on board to serve as the fifth head coach of the program. A former assistant coach at Indiana, Marshall, Nevado-Reno and Southern Mississippi, Nixon has initiated a new era in Columbia basketball.
The program has seen steady improvement since his arrival, and in 2009-10 the team set a new school record with 18 NCAA Division I victories in a season. Judie Lomax '10BC became the first Columbia player to be named Ivy League Player of the Year as she also became the first player in the history of NCAA Division I competition to lead the nation in rebounding in consecutive seasons. For her efforts, she was named an Associated Press Honorable Mention All-American. Senior Sara Yee '10SEAS earned Ivy League Defensive Player of the Year honors for the second season in a row, while Yee and Kathleen Barry '11CC were named honorable mention All-Ivy.
In 2006-07 the team doubled its Ivy League win total from the previous year. Megan Griffith ‘07CC became the eighth player in program history to surpass the 1,000-point plateau and Brittney Carfora ‘08CC hit on 51.9 percent of her three-point attempts, becoming the first Columbia women’s basketball player to lead the nation in an individual category.
The next season, Columbia took another step forward as it went 7-7 in the Ivy League and finished the season at .500 or better in the conference for the first time in school history. The team ripped off a four-game winning streak in Ivy League play through the month of February, the first time a Columbia women’s basketball program has won four straight against conference competition.
The following year, the Lions had a record 13 victories against NCAA Division I opponents, and Lomax became just the fourth player in school history to be named to the All-Ivy League first team. Lomax was force on the boards all season for the Lions, helping to establish a new school record in rebounds with 401 while leading all Division I players in rebounds per game (14.3). Also earning individual accolades was Yee, who became the Ivy League’s first ever Defensive Player of the Year.
In his first seven seasons at Columbia, Nixon has coached six players who have earned All-Ivy League recognition, including a pair of second-team honorees in 2007-08 in Michelle Gage ‘08CC and Danielle Browne ‘10BC, and a first-team honoree in 2010-11 in Kathleen Barry '11CC. Four players have also earned a spot on the All-Rookie Team in his tenure (Browne, Chelsea Frazier ‘10BC, Lauren Dwyer ‘11CC, who was a unanimous selection two seasons ago, and Brianna Orlich '14CC).
|Columbia Women's Basketball All-Time Records (Since 1984-85)|
|Year||Overall||Ivy League||Head Coach|
|1984-85 (Division III)||19-7||---||Nancy Kalafus|
|1985-86 (Division III)||21-6||---||Nancy Kalafus|
|2004-05||12-15||5-9||Traci Waites/Tory Verdi|
Columbia Women's Basketball All-Time Captains
1976-77* Donna Weiner
1977-78* Amy Barker, Stephanie Sadles
1978-79* Lesley Harris, Diana Wood
1979-80* Verna Bigger, Lesley Harris
1980-81* Nora Beck, Lisa Pitts
1981-82* Nora Beck, Sansi Sussman
1982-83* Nora Beck
1983-84* Helen Doyle, Yvonne Serres
1984-85 Helen Doyle
1985-86 Ellen Bossert, Wendy Rosov
1986-87 Ula Lysniak
1987-88 Debbie Persico, Kristina Tyer
1988-89 Christina Dugger, Margaret Munnelly, Charlene Williams
1989-90 Margaret Munnelly, Charlene Williams, Charlene Schuessler
1990-91 Karin Kolstad
1991-92 Kathleen Johnson
1992-93 Leslie Goff, Kathleen Johnson
1993-94 Leslie Goff, Dawn Cox
1994-95 Cathy Schuneman
1995-96 Jen Holub, Nicole Nicusanti
1996-97 Courtney Allshouse, Nicole Nicusanti
1997-98 Courtney Allshouse, Rose Jackson
1998-99 Rose Jackson, Trinke Vaughan
1999-00 Erin Erdman, Katie Sherwin, Catherine Tubridy
2000-01 Manju Chacko, Brie Cokos, Patricia Kern, Shawnee Pickney
2001-02 Megan Bramlette, Patricia Kern, Megan O’Neill
2002-03 Katie Day, Patricia Kern, Megan O’Neill
2003-04 Liz Chorney, Nicole Lesko
2004-05 Megan Griffith, Lisa Copeland
2005-06 Megan Griffith, Brooke Carey, Sarah Beato
2006-07 Megan Griffith, Brooke Carey
2007-08 Cate Taylor, Michele Gage
2008-09 Katrina Cragg, Sara Yee
2009-10 Sara Yee, Danielle Browne, Judie Lomax
2010-11 Kathleen Barry, Lauren Dwyer
2011-12 Melissa Shafer, Jazmin Fuller
*Barnard College Women's Basketball Team Captains