Legendary Queens College coach a finalist for Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame

Courtesy of Queens College

A Queens College coaching legend is on the verge of basketball immortality.

Lucille Kyvallos, the legendary Queens College women’s basketball coach who is considered a pioneer of the sport, was recently announced as one of 12 finalists for the 2019 class of the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame.

“We are very proud of Lucille Kyvallos for her well-deserved nomination for the 2019 Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame Class. Kyvallos’ positive influence extended not only to the many student-athletes she coached here at Queens College, but also to all the student-athletes around the country who benefited from her contributions to the advancement of the game of women’s basketball,” Queens College President Félix V. Matos Rodríguez said.

In 2017, Kyvallos’ signature of Lucille Kyvallos was unveiled on the basketball court in Queens College’s Fitzgerald Gymnasium, an honor that was a long time coming and finally came to fruition after several years.

Borough President Melinda Katz was on hand during the October 2017 ceremony to issue a proclamation, which read:

“Whereas, as part of its celebration of its 80 years of service, Queens college is dedicating its basketball court in honor of Lucille Kyvallos, who coached the Queens College women’s basketball team from 1969 to 1979 and from 1980 to 1981 and who led the U.S. women’s national basketball team to a silver medal at the World Games in Bulgaria in 1977.”

“The World’s Borough, is extremely proud of the achievements of Lucille Kyvallos and warmly congratulates her as she receives the honor of having the Queens College basketball court be dedicated in her name.”

Additionally, Katz declared Oct. 14, 2017 as Lucille Kyvallos Day.

Kyvallos said that the day of the dedication is one that she will never forget.

“I’m overwhelmed with this tribute to my past and I’m very happy to see my signature,” Kyvallos said after the court dedication. “It is a major honor to be the first woman in the city that had a basketball court named for her. It is really monumental to me.”

Kyvallos took over as head coach of the program in 1968 and served in that role for 12 seasons.

During her tenure, Kyvallos built the Lady Knights into a powerhouse program.

The team compiled a stellar 239-77 record under her tutelage and was ranked among nation’s the top ten sqauds from 1972-1978.

The Lady Knights’ success under Kyvallos received national recognition and on Feb. 22, 1975, Madison Square Garden invited Queens College and Immaculata to play the first-ever collegiate women’s basketball game at the world’s most famous arena.

Nearly 12,000 fans came out to witness the historic event, with Immaculata edging Queens in a thrilling contest.

Kyvallos’ story extended beyond Queens, when, in 1977, she was named head coach of the United States women’s basketball team at the World University Games in Sofia, Bulgaria, where she she led USA to a silver medal, losing only to the Soviet Union in the gold medal game.

Kyvallos also served on the United States Olympic Committee from 1969 to 1972 and from 1974 to 1976.

Kyvallos’ 1972-73 squad was the first women’s basketball team to be inducted into the New York City Basketball Hall of Fame. She was also inducted into the NYC Basketball Hall of Fame herself, along with the West Chester College Hall of Fame, and the Queens College Athletics Hall of Fame.

In addition to her success on the court, Kyvallos was at the forefront of the Title IX movement and positioned women’s basketball on the national sports media scene.

“Her pioneering legacy is an everyday part of our student-athletes’ experience as they compete on the college’s Lucille Kyvallos basketball court, the first such court in New York City to be named for a woman,” Félix V. Matos Rodríguez said.

Reach editor Zach Gewelb by e-mail at zgewelb@schnepsmedia.com or by phone at (718) 260–4539.

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