Alumni Stories

In Memoriam: 1916-2012

Marie Hays

Educator and Champion of Women's Sports

by Mary Conrad

Originally from Estancia, New Mexico, Marie Jenson Hays began attending UNM at age 16 and spent the rest of her life in Albuquerque. After graduation in 1936, she became a physical education teacher at Albuquerque High School, then joined the P.E. staff at Valley High School after it opened. She became the director of student activities there and remained employed there until her retirement in 1979.

Marie was a nurturing person who not only taught, but also coached and counseled her students. She became a champion of women’s athletics in an era when it was considered unladylike—even unhealthy—for girls to play sports. She was frustrated when the head of UNM athletics stated it was not ladylike to sweat. But Marie proved herself to be a true role model to both young women and men through her own athletic accomplishments. An all-star intramural athlete at UNM from 1932 to 1936, she was inducted into the UNM Athletic Hall of Honor in 1986 and was the first woman inducted into the New Mexico Activities Association Hall of Fame in 1981. Albuquerque Journal’s tricentennial magazine listed her in the top 20 sports figures in New Mexico history.

Marie rarely missed a Lobos football or basketball game during her lifetime. After retirement, she remained active with the UNM Letterman’s Association and the Albuquerque Sports Hall of Fame banquets.

Marie passed away on July 15, 2012.


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