Her transition to college was anything but easy, but Dartmouth's Kim Selmore found a home on a basketball team that dominated Ivy League play and helped prepare her for a career after college.
For Kim Selmore Hanover, N.H, in 1979 was "not very welcoming." I was playing golf with my father at Hanover Country Club. Somebody drove by in a car and yelled '[the n-word],'" remembers Selmore.
Dartmouth wasn't very welcoming either. "It was the Ronald Reagan era, conservative." Social life centered around "fraternities and drinking. It coalesced an ugly situation on campus." For Selmore, a freshman, "I had never been out of the state of Florida. I was calling home every day wanting to come home."
She "was playing basketball on the clay courts by the gym" when Gail Koziara Boudreaux, Corrine Hayes, and some other Dartmouth basketball players came by on their way to practice. They invited her to join them, and Selmore became a walk-on member of the team.
It soon became more than a team to her. "It gave me friends and a surrogate family, which helped me cope with being so far from home, family and the only way of life I had ever known."
It was quite a team. The Green won four straight Ivy titles during Selmore's time there, and compiled a combined Ivy record of 29-3. Selmore, who earned All-Ivy honorable mention status twice during her career, gives Boudreaux a large measure of credit for the team's success. "She was a great leader — incredible heart and desire," she says.
For Dartmouth's first championship Boudreaux practically "willed us to win. We had been decimated by injuries and only had eight or nine healthy players," remembers Selmore. "We also had to play Yale on its home court. We beat them, convincingly I might add. I may have been physically on the bench with a knee injury but I was on that court in spirit with my teammates. I have never seen a greater game or a greater display of courage by a group of athletes."
The team's coach was (and is) Chris Wielgus, who Selmore remembers as a "great coach, teacher and motivator. She saved my butt from making major mistakes on many occasions." Boudreaux was "Chris' first big name recruit," says Selmore. "Dartmouth was not on the radar until Gail was signed."
Other talented players followed, and Dartmouth has now won 15 titles out of 32 contested — 10 of them under Wielgus, who has been Dartmouth's coach from 1976 to 1984 and 1993 to the present.
Growing up in St. Augustine, Fla., Selmore learned about Dartmouth when "they wrote to me after I took the PSATs my junior year in high school." She chose Dartmouth over a softball scholarship to Florida State, though her father, who "was stationed in Massachusetts when he was in the Air Force and had always wanted to attend Dartmouth," told her "I was going and that was it."
Having found a home with the basketball team, Selmore also found that "playing sports made me a better student, because I didn't ever want to lose the opportunity to play." Majoring in government, she went on to the University of Virginia Law School after graduating in 1983.
But not before helping to found the Dartmouth women's golf team. For that team "they grabbed any woman who know anything about a golf club," says Selmore. In doing so it's believed she set another milestone — as the Ivy League's first African-American women's golfer.
"I don't recall seeing any other black women," she says. "I was watching a show late one night on the Golf Channel and they were saying [another Ivy alum] was first. I thought, 'No, that would be me.'"
After earning her J.D. from Virginia in 1986 Selmore practiced law in a large firm and a bank for five years before joining the U.S. Department of Justice in 1991, where she is now an Assistant United States Attorney prosecuting "economic crime and complex frauds."
Her job "requires me to be tough, smart, confident and fair, and I'm very good at it. I know playing sports contributed to my success as a lawyer and as a federal prosecutor."
"When I left in 1983, I didn't think I'd ever return to Hanover," remembers Selmore. "But I went back in 1998 for the 25 years of co-education celebration, and was amazed by the changes. Student life was much more diverse. So when I left, I was proud again to tell people I was a Dartmouth grad."
— Stephen Eschenbach