WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — The University of North Carolina Wilmington Women’s Basketball retired the number 25 on Sunday at their game against William and Mary.
Sheila Boles played for UNCW’s first women’s basketball team in 1973. She was also the first woman to receive a basketball scholarship to the university.
Boles’ jersey is only the second in the team’s history to be retired. Before her, all-time leading scorer Gwen Austin’s number 23 was retired in 2014.
She was overwhelmed with emotion when the replica jersey was revealed.
“You think about your parents, I thought about my college coach,” Boles said. “I thought about the fact ‘how did this happen?’ Thinking you would never play again, much less have your jersey retired.”
When she began applying to colleges, Title IX had not yet been formed. So she assumed her basketball career would come to an end after high school.
Much to her surprise, it was exactly the opposite.
She became a three-time MVP in women’s basketball and 1976’s NAIA District 28 Player of the Year.
After her time at UNCW, Boles went on to coach men’s basketball at Hoggard High School and later became the school’s athletic director from 1999 to 2008.
In 2008, she was named NCHSAA Athletic Director of the Year.
Boles was inducted into the NCHSAA Hall of Fame and Greater Wilmington Sports Hall of Fame in 2011.
In 2017, Hoggard High dedicated their new gym to Boles for her achievements in the athletic department.
When reflecting on her life, Boles put it simply; she is thankful.
“I’m just so thankful to the university and the opportunity they gave us 47 years ago,” Boles said. “A lot of remarkable things have happened since then. When I look at the women’s game today, it’s just great.”