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  • Writer's pictureCanada West

Marilyn Pomfret (Builder)

NAME: Marilyn Pomfret



YEARS ACTIVE: 1951-1954 (Student-Athlete); 1963-1986 (Coach and administrator)


  • First president of the Canadian Women’s Intercollegiate Athletic Union

  • Coach of CIAU women’s volleyball champions in 1973 and 1974

  • Former Canada West President

  • 1986 Austin-Matthews Award winner


As a teacher and administrator at UBC, Marilyn Pomfret (nee Russell) made major contributions in advancing opportunities for girls and women in competitive sports.

Pomfret came to UBC to study Physical Education in 1951, and quickly became heavily involved on campus. She spent time as part of the Physical Education Undergraduate Society executive, the UBC Women's Undergraduate Society, and UBC student council. In 1953 was elected president of the Women's Athletic Directorate, in which she was responsible creating and organizing women's sporting events.

After graduating in 1954 with a B.P.E., Pomfret taught high school in Winnipeg and West Vancouver, before returning to UBC in 1963 as a teacher in the Department of Physical Education.

Pomfret spent 11 years as coach of UBC’s women’s volleyball team, guiding them to conference titles in 1965, 1973 and 1974, and back-to-back CIAU gold medals in 1973 and 1974.

She served as the schools Director of Women’s Athletics from 1963 to 1969 and again from 1972 to 1986. Under her leadership, UBC’s women’s volleyball, gymnastics, track and field, basketball, swimming, diving and field hockey teams became powerhouses.

In 1969, Pomfret founded the Canadian Women’s Intercollegiate Athletic Union. Serving as its first president, and later as part of its board of directors, Pomfret was responsible for the establishment of national university championships for women, which commenced in 1970-71, and was instrumental in the 1978 amalgamation of the Canadian Women's Athletic Union and the men's equivalent to form one governing body for university sport.

From 1975 until 1986, Pomfret served on the Board of Directors of the Canada West University Athletic Association and was its president from 1983 until her retirement in 1986. She was also on the Board of Directors of the CIAU and in 1984-85 chaired the committee on the role and status of women in the CIAU.

Pomfret received the 1986 Austin-Matthews Award for outstanding contribution to the development of university sport in Canada. She is a member of the UBC Sports Hall of Fame (inducted 1994), BC Sports Hall of Fame (2004), and Volleyball BC Hall of Fame (2018).

The Marilyn Pomfret Trophy, named in her honour, is awarded annually to UBC’s most outstanding female student-athlete.

Pomfret was born in 1932 and grew up in Winnipeg. She passed away in April 2019.

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