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Former KU coach Washington finds another way to motivate people

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Stepping away from something you’ve done for three decades can leave you unsettled for awhile. Former Kansas women’s basketball coach Marian Washington knows that well. But she also knows what it’s like to find other outlets for her enthusiasm to encourage others.

Washington, who left coaching in 2004 due to health issues, is feeling better these days and working on an Internet-based fitness program.

“It’s still difficult to not want to be out there and coach on the floor, because I’ve always enjoyed motivating,” Washington said. “Now, I want to help motivate people toward a better, healthier lifestyle.”

A longtime friend, Tina Sloan Green, invited Washington to the Black Women in Sport Foundation’s annual convention, which was held here in Kansas City on Friday and Saturday. The organization honored women’s athletics standouts Mamie “Peanut” Johnson (baseball), Cynthia Cooper (basketball), Renee Powell (golf), Nikki Franke (fencing) and Wendy Hilliard (rhythmic gymnastics).

Sloan Green is a professor emeritus at Temple University, and like Washington is a graduate of West Chester University. Both women competed in sports in the 1960s-early 1970s, pre-Title IX years when opportunities were fewer and, thus, the athletes needed to be very determined to participate. And both were college coaches, with Sloan Green leading the Temple women’s lacrosse team from 1973-’92.

Sloan Green is co-founder and president of the BWSF, an organization that began in 1992 with the mission of helping black women become involved in all avenues of sports.

That includes coaching, administration, marketing, public relations and media.

During her time at KU, from 1973-2004, Washington did almost all of those things to help develop not just the basketball program but all women’s sports at the school.

Washington still resides in Lawrence, taking frequent trips to the East Coast to visit her two grandchildren.

She enjoyed watching Bill Self’s Jayhawks win the NCAA men’s basketball championship, but she acknowledged that being a spectator for basketball has taken some getting used to.

Washington, who will turn 62 in August, was looking for a new venture and remembered an idea she’d had several years ago.

Washington wanted to develop a program in which people keep count of the steps they take (via pedometer) doing everyday tasks and exercises, then see how far that would get them if they were actually moving toward a destination.

By entering their steps, people take “virtual” journeys. The Web site is www. trackandfitness.com.

“It’s amazing to look at what you do in a month,” Washington said.

“If you were actually walking toward another city, you might already have gotten there. And my hope is that people can get excited and inspired about that, because that’s the key. Every time you get closer to another destination, you want to do a little more.”

SOURCE: Kansas City Star

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Written by Symphony

April 21, 2008 at 8:12 pm

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