(Portions of this content first appeared in Tap Into New Brunswick)
The Rutgers Athletics department recently announced that Vineland native and 1967 Vineland High graduate Sandra Petway was one of three Rutgers University women’s coaching legends named to the 2022 Hall of Fame class.
On the 50th anniversary of legislation that leveled the playing field for female athletes in the United States, Rutgers will be honoring Petway (women’s track and field coach), C. Vivian Stringer (women’s basketball coach) and Pat Willis (softball coach and women’s basketball assistant coach.)
Petway was among the inaugural group of coaches named in June of 1974 to spearhead the original seven programs to begin women’s sports in the Rutgers Athletics Department. At 24 years old and only three years after graduating from Trenton State (currently The College of New Jersey), Petway could already be considered an old pro when it came to building programs.
The Trenton State women’s track & field program did not exist when she joined the freshman class in 1967. However, by her sophomore year Petway and Estelle (Cookie) Sey formed TSC’s first women’s varsity track team. She would go on to compete in the long jump, high jump, 440-yard run and 440-yard relay. Petway then stayed on at Trenton State to earn her master’s degree and help coach the track team. Petway was inducted into the Trenton State College Athletic Hall of Fame in 1995.
Coach Petway first arrived at Rutgers during the 1973-74 academic year serving as a physical education instructor and would go on to share her time with the cross-country team, indoor club track team and outdoor varsity track & field team, in addition to teaching academic courses and remaining an active AAU competitor in the long jump.
The women’s track & field cross country program started as an AAU club team. It became an intercollegiate sport at Rutgers in 1976 with Petway as the head coach.
After coaching the women’s cross-country team to an undefeated season in 1976 and coaching the outdoor track & field team to a 4-0 record with a state championship, Petway became the first women’s full-time coach at Rutgers. Coach Petway remained the head coach until the fall of 1980. During her tenure, 19 Scarlet Knights earned AIAW All-American status.
Registration is now open for the Rutgers Athletics Hall of Fame dinner on Friday, October 21 at the Heldrich Hotel and Conference Center in New Brunswick. The event will begin with a 6:30 p.m. reception before an 8 p.m. program. The dinner is $175 per person, $150 per person for former letter winners and free for all past Rutgers Athletics Hall of Fame inductees.
Online registration is also available for the Varsity R Homecoming Tailgate, which will take place in Athletes Glen, across from SHI Stadium, on October 22 as Rutgers football takes on Indiana. The tailgate from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. at the Frank R. Burns Pavilion in Athletics Glen prior to the noon kickoff against the Hoosiers is free for letter winners and children under 10 with registration and $25 per adult guest.