Janice Stevens is a women's sports pioneer

A talented athlete, she just loved to play sports

Published: Sunday, July 24 2011 11:24 p.m. MDT

"She is always encouraging people to play sports or just be active," she said. "I think just watching her teaching people, seeing the joy and all of the benefits that came from sports led me in the direction that I went."

Allen said it feels good to follow in her mother's footsteps.

"I have so much gratitude," said Allen. "It's been hard in the era that I have grown up with, so I can't even imagine what she dealt with. It's definitely different now…I know she put up with a lot."

Stevens laughs when she considers the opportunities and advantages that existed just a generation later.

"Softball, basketball, volleyball," she said waving her hands as if it is too overwhelming to consider. "Wouldn't it have been fun to have the training, the coaching that just my own children had? I had to pay my way through school."

Remarkably, she isn't bitter or even jealous. Just ecstatic that times, attitudes and especially opportunities have changed for women.

"Sports teaches you a lot," said Stevens, who can no longer play tennis but recently took up golf.

And above all, Stevens is grateful she's been able to share what she's learned and what she loves with others.

"My greatest satisfaction has been teaching and helping others," she said smiling. "I taught a lot of people tennis in my lifetime. I made sure I hit balls with anyone who asked. But it's not what I've accomplished, it's helping others grow and develop that's meant a lot."

Email: adonaldson@desnews.com

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