A perfect melding of women’s athletics and scholarship came together Tuesday night as the Sports Society and Delta Psi Kappa combined to honor Miami-Dade County’s top athletes.
The 30th annual awards ceremony was capped off when Barbara Palmer, a pioneer in women’s sports in Florida, received the evening’s top honor, the Babe Didrikson Zaharias award.
“We have come so far, and I’m so excited about that,” Palmer told a room full of young people at Don Shula’s Grand Slam Ballroom.
Palmer was FSU’s women’s athletic director from 1974 to 1988 and is now the director for persons with disabilities for the state of Florida.
“I’m never speechless,” Palmer, 65, said, “but I might be tonight. I’m just so, so honored. This warms my heart and floods me with so many memories.”
Then she looked out at the middle and high school athletes and told them, “You are exactly what we fought for. I need some names and numbers of you young athletes so I can recruit you. Your future is so bright. You have studied and worked hard and it shows.”
Palmer recalled her start at FSU and that the women’s athletic budget was $160,000 and the men’s budget was $5 million. “Guess I didn’t ask all the right questions when I interviewed,” she said.
The Alleine Swain Scholarship, presented by Delta Psi Kappa, went to Sara Rajda, an FIU student who is a volunteer trainer at the college
The Dorothy B. Shula Scholarship went to Coral Gables High’s Andrea Jaime, who has a 6.7 grade-point average, will attend Georgetown and hopes to become a physician, and not just an ordinary physician. She plans to eventually become a foreign medical missionary.
The Patricia C. Graham Scholarship went to Petra Gunn of Northwestern High, who has a 4.7 GPA and is editor of the school newspaper.