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Gail Marquis reflects on the first women's basketball game at Madison Square Garden

To commemorate the 40th anniversary of the first women's game at Madison Square Garden, Queens College and Immaculata were invited to play in the 2015 Maggie Dixon Classic. Among the members in attendance was former Queens College star and Olympian Gail Marquis.

Gail Maquis poses with yours truly.
Gail Maquis poses with yours truly.

New York City - Time may have altered the features a bit.

The hair getting a touch of gray, that is natural. But time has not had an effect on their enthusiasm or love of the game.

Queens faced Immaculata in the first game of the Maggie Dixon Classic on Sunday. To commemorate the 40th anniversary of the first women's game at Madison Square Garden, these programs were invited to the Dixon. Making a return to the ‘World's Most Famous Arena' were several members of both programs with the return becoming a full scale reunion.

Among those who appeared were former queens star Gail Marquis. A star at Queens college, the first women's pro league and the Olympics (1976), Marquis was an officiating partner of yours truly during her days as an official.

She spent time recalling those special days when her alma mater and the ‘Mighty Macs' battled for collegiate supremacy. She spoke about the differences from four decades ago.

"The changes in the game are tremendous," Marquis said at halftime of Sunday's Queens-Immaculata matchup. "Title IX had a lot to do with that presenting women with opportunities. Once the NCAA got involved things got lucrative for the women's game."

She still gets sentimental recalling the bygone days. Never lamenting the fact in today's culture the game might have presented more opportunities for exposure and notoriety.

"We played because we loved to play," she said. "It was that simple. The budgets were extremely limited. It was literally a shoe string budget. No six figure salaries for coaches. In many cases not even four figures. Three figure coaching salaries were more the norm."

Always showing that true love for the game, Marquis turned to officiating in the 90's.

"I worked about 10 years (as an official)," she said. "I was able to get to the college (Division II) level and did some nigh school and Tournament of Champions games in New Jersey."

Today she is active with the Queens College board, mostly as an advisory position. Marquis is also a devout follower of the basketball program.

"She (Marquis) came to the locker room to speak with to us before the game," said Queens sophomore forward Madison Rowland. "That was very special and inspiring. She (Marquis) and my sister (junior Mackenzie) are the reasons I came to Queens."

For the game, Rowland did Marquis and Queens followers proud scoring a game high 28 points in the 76-60 victory over Immaculata.

Gail was caught up in the moment. Renewing acquaintances, posing for pictures, one with former New York Liberty standout Kym Hampton who anxiously sought her out, and recalling a great bygone era. It was an era that she, her Queens teammates and opposition at Immaculata were so much a part of.

"It is great to be here," Marquis said. "To see everyone and so many who contributed to the game."

Gail Marquis, very worthy of mention with those contributors.