Professor of health, physical education and recreation for more than three decades, Charlotte Piper was UNM’s first swimming coach. She also pioneered the field of adaptive aquatics for special populations in New Mexico, and was the first woman to chair the UNM Athletic Council.
After graduating from Baker (Kansas) University, Charlotte taught at UNM as a part-time physical education instructor. She taught at UNM when women had to wear skirts to competition, athletes had to buy their own red swim suits and travel days and nights with practically no budget for motels to get to meets. Times have sure changed!
Piper formed the swim team in 1957 when UNM competed in the Intermountain Conference for College Women’s Physical Education. She was heavily involved with numerous organizations for the advancement of women’s sports. In 1973, Piper served as team leader and assistant swimming coach of the United States delegation at the World University Games in Moscow in which four UNM swimmers competed, including Olympic golf medalist Cathy Carr.
Community outreach was also important to Piper. She did fund-raising for the Albuquerque Zoo, served on the city’s Therapeutic Recreation Board, worked as an official for the Senior Olympics and was a member of the Board of Directors for the inaugural New Mexico State Games.
Charlotte Piper’s contributions to UNM athletics, to higher education and to human resources and community development are legion.