By Beth Hillyer
Honolulu (KHNL) -- The first ever University of Hawaii women's athletic director had zero dollars in her budget and was told over and over again that women's sports didn't matter. But Donnis Thompson fought for equal rights for female athletes and built what we know now as wahine sports. University officials, family and scores of friends looked on as a bronze statue was unveiled. The contributions of Dr. Donnis Thompson will live on, "Just getting a chance to be there at the University is very special to me," says Thompson.
Thompson, "Well I started athletics for women at the University of Hawaii. One of the sports I picked out I came originally to start womens track and field program but also when we have enough money I included women's volleyball."
The rest is history. Her next brilliant move, hiring a young, promising coach. "Oh you bet that is one of the highlights of my career hiring Dave Shoji."
Many call Thompson a pioneer because the road was not easy. "First of all there is a feeling women should not even be in athletics, it's a men's place, that's one thing we had to change."
"It was one of the great things in my life to work with Patsy Mink. She passed Title Nine which is probably the most outstanding piece of legislation since getting women to vote."
Her home is filled with plaques and awards from her days at U-H. She went on to serve as superintendent of Hawaii public schools. And now at U-H a lifelike and lasting memorial for Thompson's contributions.
"The program is a fine program and I'm very pleased to be a part of it."