I was reminded of my unsuccessful effort to take flying lessons (alas, it required parental permission) when I read that Ann Casey Johnsone has been named to the Iowa Sports Hall of Fame, the second woman among the 83 persons who have received that honor.
Mrs. Johnsone taught golf at Stephens from 1944 to 1948, before she was named the top amateur woman golfer in the nation and achieved many other honors.
Selected top Iowa golfer for 1957— woman or man, amateur or pro—she was picked for the U.S. Curtis Cup team to play against England in 1958, 1960 and 1962. Golf Digest named her as one of six outstanding women teaching golf in the nation.
WHEN SHE WAS graduated from Iowa U. in 1944 with a degree in physical education. Stephens College was seeking a woman to teach golf.
At that time you could retain amateur standing if you had a college degree in P.E., but later the rule changed and she was declared a pro.
My decision not to take golf at Stephens for one of the required P.E. credits was based on my knowledge, acquired at an early age, that I was never going to be any good at golf. (Also, I was still obsessed with my flying goal, hard as that is to realize now.)
Instead, I concentrated on more appealing sports, especially horseback riding. I thought I would be pretty good at that, since my family had acquired a fox-trotting saddle horse when I was six.
Little did I imagine that in the current year the now 4-year Stephens College would offer a B.S. degree in equestrian studies for those wanting to work in equestrian-related businesses, riding facilities and therapeutic riding centers., and a B.S. in equestrian science program that works closely with the nearby University of Missouri College of Veterinary Medicine and meets many of its entrance requirements.
IT IS THE second oldest woman’s college in the nation, but Stephens is still breaking new educational ground.
Evidence of that came in the release of the first-ever U. S. News & World Report edition of the nation’s Top Online Education Programs, as of 2012.
Stephens is the only women’s college to rank in the Top 15 in any of the categories assessed. Stephens’ online bachelor’s programs are ranked 13 out of 172 colleges for teaching practices and student engagement, higher than any other Missouri college.
U.S. News ranked Stephens’ online bachelor’s degree programs, including Health Information Administration and degree completion programs, online graduate business programs, including Master of Business Administration and Master in Strategic Leadership, and online graduate education programs.
TO BE considered, programs needed to have at least 80 percent of their course content available online. Stephens started offering online programs in 1998.
The Equestrian Studies department will offer a summer riding program at the college stables arena.
I qualified for the Prince of Wales Club, whose requirements included a riding test using an English saddle and double-bit bridle—neither of which I was ever very comfortable with.
According to lore, the club began in 1926 after a rider fell off her horse at the feet of James Madison Wood, then Stephens College president, and Rolf Raynor, director of the equitation program. Either Raynor or Wood declared the rider had performed a “Prince of Wales maneuver.” Edward VIII, the Prince of Wales, was known for falling off his horse during steeplechases.
I was never deemed good enough to ride the college’s 5-gaited show horses, or even the better 3-gaited ones.
And as my mount and I circled in the covered arena I can still almost hear the instructor call out, “Miss Laschinger! Collect your horse!”