Dorothy Wendt: An unmatched pioneer


Special To / The Advocate

Aquatics teacher Dorothy Wendt demonstrates a movement to her class. Wendt was the college’s swim instructor for 25 years

By Xavier Johnson, Web Editor

Former women’s basketball and softball coach Dorothy Wendt, commonly known as “Dottie,” was not just a pioneer for he two sports at Contra Costa College, but the entire athletic program on campus.

As a coach in the pre-Title IX era, Wendt worked hard to give her student-athletes an opportunity to compete and grow as athletes. She was one of the 10 original inductees to the college Hall of Fame.

But Wendt’s encouraging nature and desire to help people grow went far beyond coaching and extended to her physical education students, co-workers and family members.

Her legacy today, directly or indirectly, affects all CCC students.

Wendt died suddenly in Berkeley on Dec. 31, 2018 at the age of 87. No cause of death was given.

Born in Berwyn, Illinois on April 16, 1931, athletics always played an active role in her life whether it was basketball, baseball or swimming. She spent her summers teaching physical education at a girl’s camp while pursuing her education at Morton College in Cicero, Illinois. Later, she transferred to Murray State then Indiana University. She went on to attend UC Berkeley for grad school.

Wendt’s cousin Diane Smith and her husband Phil Smith said when talking to her former players at a memorial service at La Strada Restaurant in San Pablo Jan. 13, they all spoke about how influential Wendt was as a coach and teacher.

“(Diane and I) are both retired teachers and there’s nothing a teacher would rather hear. Not necessarily the praise but the effect her (Wendt) teaching had on her former students. There was plenty of that at the service,” Phil Smith said.

When Wendt started coaching basketball, her operational budget was $50 with no pay for her time coaching. The coach managed the team herself and dedicated her time to coaching, maintaining equipment and scheduling games for the women’s squad.

Wendt coached from 1968 to 1980.

Phil Smith said Wendt’s dedication to CCC exemplified her belief in the community college system and its students.

“I think she had a philosophical belief in the junior college system, her education started in junior college. Her commitment to that is worth mentioning because I believe that was an integral part of her decision to teach at Contra Costa College,” Smith said.

Wendt wasn’t just a coach on campus. She was the primary aquatics teacher for 25 years and also taught tennis.

Former athletic director Ed Greene said Wendt always made time for her students by taking extra time to meet up with students to play tennis or provide extra time for students to swim.

In contrast to how willing she was to help and elevate others, Wendt was modest about her substantial Hall of Fame contributions.

“She was modest, honest and positive. Before the Hall of Fame dinner, we never heard anything about her achievements or that she was such a pioneer for women’s sports before Title IX,” Diane Smith said.