50 Years of Women’s College Athletics: Spotlight on Field Hockey
Duke is celebrating 50 years of varsity women’s athletics in 2021-2022. This is the first part of a year GoDuke the magazine series reflecting the 14 women’s sports programs of the Blue Devils. To learn more about the university, see dukengwsd.com/dukewomens50 or # DukeWomens50 on social media.
Allison Miazga-Bedrick (Duke class of 1991) was a three-time member of Team All-ACC, the Blue Devils’ first U.S. field hockey star and the program’s second career goalscorer when she graduated. She has worked for Mars, Inc. for 23 years and is the Senior Director of M & M’s Brand.
During your playing career, ACC field hockey was on the rise and Duke was ranked nationally in the final polls for the first time. Did you feel this was an important moment in the growth of the program?
I think it was an amazing time. Coach (Jacki) Silar brought together a great group of people and athletes, and every year we got better. And my last year, we were ranked nationally. It started with the people who were there, and 30 years later they are still my best friends. What we have built on this ground is teamwork, leadership and ultimately victory. It started before me with the people who started the program and I absolutely see it continuing today. We felt we were about to break through.
What are some of your memories of being a Duke student-athlete?
The people of the team and the culture. It was one of the most transformative times in my life where I have probably grown the most as an individual. Even now, running a $ 2 billion brand, the leadership I learned, the collaboration, the way of working with people – it really comes from my career at Duke.
Growing up alongside the emergence of Title IX (which became law in 1972), did you realize at the time how much opportunity was changing for women in sport? I don’t think I knew it when I experienced it. Obviously looking back, sure. Getting a scholarship for Duke has changed my life. Honestly, I wouldn’t have been to Duke if I hadn’t gotten a scholarship, so it was pretty special. Being an 18 year old kid, I didn’t really know what impact this would have on my life. But I knew that if I hadn’t been given this opportunity, my life’s trajectory could have been very different.
Academics were also important. When you put the academics and Duke’s athleticism together, it didn’t improve. I remember my recruiting trip – my parents came over, I went to a Duke men’s basketball game, and we were playing Georgia Tech. The students passed the Blue Devil around the stadium. My parents were sitting in the stands and they would have liked me to approach the house, but they looked at each other and said, “This is where she is going. It was truly an impressionable moment.
Who were some of your role models as a young female athlete?
One was (tennis legend) Martina Navratilova. I was still looking at her and she was a force, and back then, that wasn’t always accepted. I was certainly inspired
by her – her tenacity, her strength and her athleticism, she didn’t hold back, so she was someone I admired. And then (Hall of Fame coach) Pat Summitt of women’s basketball, seeing her greatness. You look at Coach K today and the impact he’s had, and I think Pat Summitt was equal to that. Having these two inspiring women to admire definitely marked me.
When you talk about greatness, few brands are more loved than M & M’s, which turns 80 this year. What are you doing in your role?
First and foremost, we bring smiles to the faces of consumers. It doesn’t get any better than that. I am the main director of the brand. I lead from a marketing point of view, and functionally my team does all the communication, innovation, obviously brand strategy. It is such an iconic brand that touches the lives of consumers not only from a product point of view but also from an entertainment point of view. We have beloved iconic characters.
Switching from sports to business and trying to get that same sense of accomplishment I was able to find out, like many former athletes. You say “Duke” and people look up. You say “M & M’s” and people look up. It is therefore with these emblematic brands that I have been very fortunate to be associated.
How hard is it to maintain such a positive aura and stay relevant with a brand that has been around for so long?
This is the challenge. The bar keeps rising and you are betting on greatness. There is something difficult about this. But you can also think of the momentum behind the brand, both internally from Mars from the point of view of associates and also from our consumers. It’s a huge wave that I’m surfing. Obviously, we always have to innovate, we always have to think differently, we always have to reach new consumers in new ways. But it is a major asset with which we must play.
Is there a favorite campaign you’ve worked on in 23 years with Mars?
Back when I was on Snickers, I worked on the Snickers “You’re not you” Brady Bunch Super Bowl (2015) campaign with Danny Trejo and the Brady Bunch. Growing up being a Brady Bunch fan was a lot of fun, which I will always remember.
Thirty years after your Duke field hockey career, what does it mean to you to be part of the fabric of 50 years of women’s athletics at Duke?
It’s probably one of the most important parts of my life outside of my family. I’ll be honest, it’s transformed who I am and some of the best relationships I have are the people I’ve met at Duke. So it’s extremely important to me and I’m very proud to be associated with Duke.
Pam bustin Duke Field Hockey Coach since 2011 8 NCAA tournaments in 10 seasons ACC Coach of the Year 2011, 2016
“It’s amazing to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Title IX. I remember being seven in 1974 and wanting to play softball so badly. Girls couldn’t try softball league until they were nine. .. but boys could try out for baseball when I was 5. I was good enough to play, but still girls weren’t allowed to play in the boys league. , I still felt the inequality. I watched and learned from my aunt who played sports in college and studied physical education in the late 1960s and 70s. She passionately supported boys and girls. girls in sports and has dedicated her life to providing positive, educational and competitive experiences for both through high school physical education, interschool volleyball, basketball and field hockey.
In 1980, women’s field hockey was introduced to the Olympics (men’s field hockey was introduced to the Olympics in 1908). A field hockey player from my hometown who was nine years older than me, Sue Marcellus, was on that team. She was the first woman I knew to reach the “big leagues”. I knew then that field hockey was my goal. I wanted to play in college and I wanted to be an Olympic field hockey player and then eventually a coach.
Since then, I have seen the growth, changes, struggles, inequalities, triumphs and incredible power of women in sport – through my playing and training in youth leagues, middle and high schools, colleges and the Olympics. We’ve come a long way, but we continue to strive for fairness in opportunity, compensation and respect at every level.
Every day, I access a job that I love. Every day I thank the women, like my aunt, like Sue (the supportive men) who paved the way for the opportunities I took advantage of. Every day, I carry the torch to continue to create more opportunities for women in sport and to improve the quality of their experiences. “