Rice’s First Star Female Athlete: Kay Pearson

1933 Campanile

1933 Campanile

Kay Pearson ’36, or as she was later known Kathryn Pearson Keating, excelled at both tennis and golf. While at Rice, she was the star of the tennis club and independently won national intercollegiate doubles and singles titles in 1935. This was almost 50 years before women’s sports were funded by the university. She also competed in the US  Open against Helen Wills, Helen Jacobs, and Elizabeth Ryan.

1935 Campanile

1935 Campanile

It’s amazing that she achieved so much at the collegiate level in tennis, but there’s actually more. She started taking golf lessons in January of 1936. Two years later, she was the Houston City Women’s Champion and won the title five more times, as well as the state title in 1941 and 1947. She beat future great Betty Jameson in the semi-finals at the Women’s Southern Golf Tournament in 1940.

Campanile 1934

Campanile 1934

In 1982, Pearson received an Honorary “R” award from the “R” Association, and her name graces Rice’s outstanding women’s tennis player award.

"R" Award

“R” Award

Sadly, we only have Campanile and newspaper articles that describe Pearson’s life. If you have any items about her that you would like to donate or know someone that does, please contact us.

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