Barbara Houstoun

Coach Barbara “Boo” Houstoun

In 1972 the passage of Title IX occurred and gender equality in sports was set in motion. While the full acceptance of girls’ sports may be incomplete, its emergence and acceptance in Glen Rock was a different story because of Barbara Houstoun.

Barbara Houstoun was a Glen Rock pioneer. Boo, as she was called, joined the Glen Rock Junior High School faculty in September 1943 after graduating from Ridgewood High School in 1936 and then Beaver College (PA) in 1940 with a BS degree in Health, Physical Education and a minor in Science, and then working in the Paterson school system for two years. She later received her master’s degree in Physical Education from NYU in 1946 and completed other post graduate courses at Paterson State College and Seton Hall University. 

Boo felt it was imperative that the struggle to affect change, transform societal attitudes, and achieve equal opportunities for girls in sports begin without delay. In 1949 she established the Girls’ Athletic Association (of which every girl was a member) that organized the intramural program, designed tournament play, arranged faculty‐student games and sponsored the “Green Dream,” a possible precursor to March Madness. She also established athletic competition (play days) with schools such as Teaneck, Hackensack and Ridgewood. Glen Rock fielded girls’ teams in soccer, basketball, table tennis, volleyball, and softball; all were coached by Boo. She also was the School Advisor for the school’s cheerleader squads.

In 1957, Boo was named Vice President of the New Jersey Athletic Association for Girls.

Shortly after the launch of Glen Rock Senior High School, Boo was made Head of Girls’ Physical Education for both the Junior and Senior High Schools and assumed the coaching and School Advisor responsibilities for those additional students.

As Title IX was being debated in Congress in the Spring of 1972, the Girls’ Leadership Council organized a petition drive to begin interscholastic competition and Boo obtained the support of the school’s administration and the Board of Education; Glen Rock entered four teams into B-PSL play — basketball; field hockey; gymnastics; and tennis — with Boo as the Head Coach of the field hockey team. In the fall 1972 inaugural season,  the team put together a 4‐4‐0 record. In the following fall 1973 season, the team recorded an 8‐4‐2 season and competed, for the first time, in New Jersey’s recently-launched the state field hockey tournament, bowing out in the 2nd round. This was the first GRHS girls team that competed in a NJSSIA state tournament.

Boo also made an impact throughout our state as a committee member of the National Section for Girls’ and Women’s Sports (now known as the National Association of Girls’ and Women’s Sports). She also held membership in the New Jersey Athletic Association for Girls, the Bergen County Girls’ Sports Council, NJAHPERD and AAHPERD. Today those organizations are the leaders for equity issues in sports and champion equal funding, quality and respect for girls’ and women’s sports.

Finally, Boo represented our region as a member the Women’s National Officials Rating committee. This committee clarified the rules, established guidelines for officials, players and coaches. She was also a National Federation of State High School Associations volleyball official.

Boo retired in June 1975, having served Glen Rock for 32 years. Thanks to her leadership in the decades before the passage of Title IX and then in the years immediately after its passage, Glen Rock High School female athletes and their teams have achieved extraordinary success.