July 31, 2012
UCLA Athletics continues its celebration of the 40th Anniversary of Title IX with a series of profiles of UCLA's Title IX 40. This group of 40 Bruin women were game-changers in the Title IX era. We delve into the 1980's with profiles of basketball and gymnastics Hall of Famers Denise Curry and Sharon Shapiro
Denise Curry, Basketball (1978-81)
The all-time leading scorer in UCLA women's basketball history with 3,198 career points, Denise Curry was a four-year starter (1978-81) and three-time All-American. Curry helped lead UCLA to the AIAW National Championship in 1978 as a freshman starting forward and to a repeat trip to the Final Four in 1979 as a sophomore. The Western Collegiate Athletic Conference Player of the Year from 1979-81, Curry also earned first-team Academic All-American honors as a senior.
During her Bruin career, she set a collegiate record by scoring in double figures in all of her 130 career games and set 14 school records, including scoring and rebounding (1,310) and averaged a double-double (24.6 points/10.1 rebounds per game). Her UCLA teams won 98 games, including a record 29 during her senior season (1980-81). She was also a member of UCLA's National Championship softball team in 1978, and in 1981 was named the UCLA All-University Athlete of the Year.
On February 3, 1990 in Pauley Pavilion, Curry (#12) joined fellow UCLA basketball greats Ann Meyers Drysdale (#15), Bill Walton (#32) and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (#33) as the first players in Bruin basketball history to have their jersey numbers retired.
A standout on the U.S. National team, Curry won gold medals at the 1979 World Championships, 1983 Pan American Games and the 1984 Summer Olympics. She had also been selected to the 1980 U.S. Olympic team that did not participate in the Games due to the U.S. boycott. Additionally, Curry earned silver medals at the 1979 Pan Am Games, 1981 World University Games and the 1983 World Championships.
Curry was a professional women's basketball standout in Europe from 1982-90, playing with teams in Germany, France and Italy. As a member of the Stade FrancaisVersailles team in France, Curry led the squad to the 1986 and 1987 National Championship and was named the French league's player of the decade.
Following her playing career, Curry entered the coaching ranks. From 1990-96 she was an assistant coach at Cal and assisted the San Jose Franchise of the American Basketball League in 1996-97. Later, she served as the head coach at Cal State Fullerton from 1998-2000. From 2003-09, she was an assistant coach at Long Beach State, working on the staff of fellow Bruin alum Mary Hegarty.
Curry has been inducted into the National High School Sports (1991), Naismith Memorial Basketball (1997), Women's Basketball (1999 inaugural class, with Moore and Meyers) and UCLA Athletics (1993) Halls of Fame. In 1998, she was named one of the 15 greatest players in the history of UCLA women's basketball.
Sharon Shapiro, Gymnastics (1980-82)
With her innovative style and explosive performances, Sharon Shapiro won UCLA's first-ever individual national title in women's gymnastics and made history as a true freshman at the 1980 AIAW Championships when she became the first collegiate woman to sweep all four events (vault, uneven bars, balance beam, floor exercise) and the all-around. To this day, no collegiate gymnast has ever duplicated that feat.
At the 1981 AIAW Championships as a sophomore, Shapiro again won first-place individual national honors in the all-around and on vault and was an All-American on the uneven bars. She also earned the Broderick Award as the nation's most outstanding women's gymnast. Shapiro led the Bruins to first place in the WCAA and at the AIAW Regionals and a second-place team finish at the AIAW national championships. As a junior in 1982, Shapiro was an All-American in the all-around, vault and balance beam.
Shapiro was a U.S. national team member from 1976-78 and 1979-81. In 1978, she was the U.S. National Champion in the vault, and she won five gold medals at the 1979 Maccabiah Games. In 1999, Shapiro became the first Bruin women's gymnast inducted into the UCLA Athletics Hall of Fame. A 1990 inductee into the So Cal Jewish Sports Hall of Fame, Shapiro has remained a key alumna, supporter and ambassador for UCLA and her sport since her graduation.