Barnard/Columbia 1985-86 women’s basketball team

On October 18, the 2018 Columbia University Athletics Hall of Fame, marking the 35th anniversary of the Columbia-Barnard Athletics Consortium, is honoring former Barnard President Ellen V. Futter ’71, former Columbia Women's Basketball player Charlene Schuessler Fideler '90 and members of the 1985-86 Columbia Women's Basketball team, which included Barnard alumnae Ellen Sexton Boade ’86, Nina Christopher ’89, Deborah Persico Lynch ’88, Ulana Lysniak ’87, and Wendy Rosov ’86, as well as Coach Nancy Kalafus, Assistant Coaches Barbara Albom and Allison Jones. 

Former Barnard President Ellen V. Futter '71 is being honored with a special award for the integral role she played in the creation of the Columbia/Barnard Athletic Consortium, which allows Barnard scholar-athletes to compete alongside Columbia undergraduates on 16 teams in the NCAA Division I and Ivy League. This unparalleled opportunity makes Barnard the only college for women, and one of few liberal arts colleges of its size, to offer NCAA Division I athletics. Futter served as Barnard’s President from 1981 until 1993, and in 1983 advocated for Barnard to keep its independence when the University announced Columbia College would begin accepting women.

Barnard's second honoree is former Columbia Women's Basketball team player Charlene Schuessler Fideler ’90. Fideler's legacy as both a standout player and indispensable teammate is unparalleled. Also competing under the guidance of Coach Kalafus and serving as a co-captain in her senior year, she is the program’s all-time leader in assists, third all-time leader in steals, and one of only eleven 1,000 point scorers in its history.

Barnard's final honorees are the members of 1985-86 Columbia Women’s Basketball team, which to this day stands as the most successful team in program history.
Led by head coach Nancy Kalafus and future Hall of Famers Ula Lysniak ’87 and Ellen Bossert ’86CC, the 85-86 women’s basketball team won the season 21-6 and won the New York State AIAW Championships. To top it off, the Lions earned the program’s first bid to an NCAA Tournament, finishing third at the NCAA Division III East Regional with an 89-73 victory over Buffalo State.

The 1985-86 season was memorable in more ways than one. After starting the season by winning seven of its first eight games, including a first-place finish in the Seven Sisters Tournament, the Lions welcomed Cornell to Levien Gymnasium and came away with their first victory over an Ivy League opponent. Adding to the victory, Lysniak broke Helen Doyle’s career scoring record before going on to become the first Lion to eclipse 1,000 career points later that season.
The win over Cornell catapulted Columbia to an eight-game winning streak, which still stands as the program record. Along the way, they earned a second victory over a future Ivy League opponent, defeating Princeton on the road, 65-60. The Lions ended the regular season with a thrilling 83-82 overtime victory at New Rochelle in which Bossert scored 39 points – a program record that remains to this day.
The victory secured Columbia its first ever postseason bid when it was selected for the 1986 N.Y. State Association of Intercollegiate Athletics for Women’s Division III playoffs. The Lions earned the No. 2 seed in the draw, disposing of St. Lawrence and Rochester in the first two rounds before a rematch in the finals against New Rochelle. This time, the Lions dominated, jumping out to a 27-6 lead before going on to win 72-60 and assure the program’s first bid to the NCAA Regionals.
Columbia was seeded second of four teams in the NCAA East Region and earned an 89-73 victory over Buffalo State in the third-place game.
The 1985-86 Lions were the program’s last team to play Division III basketball and paved the way for the program’s NCAA Div. I era. Many names from the 1985-86 roster can be found all over the Columbia women’s basketball record books. Ula Lysniak’s 1,447 career points stood as the career scoring record for 31 years before Camille Zimmerman broke it just this past season. The same can be said for Ellen Bossert’s 598 points scored in 1985-86, which also stood as the single-season record for 31 years.