ACC Legends: Myra Waters of Maryland

Feb. 22, 2012

The University of Maryland went back in time to find its 2012 ACC Legend, but extending to the early 1980s was certainly not a reach.

As a player, Myra Waters helped the Terrapins to the first NCAA Women’s Final Four and shot, stole and rebounded her way onto school Top 10 lists that she still occupies. Off the court, she seized one of the first opportunities available to female student-athletes, and she took advantage in triplicate: bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate degrees.

“Success is a result of identifying, valuing and, to the best of ability, utilizing your strengths,” Waters said. “Play to your strengths and seek support for your weaknesses.”

As director of the University of Baltimore’s counseling center, Waters provides the latter to hundreds of students and has practiced the former for decades.

Her journey began when athletics scholarships in women’s sports were rare and few if any girls in her native Ohio dreamed about playing at an out-of-state institution with a national profile. And how could they? Recruiting budgets and travel teams were still a few years away. Maryland coach Chris Weller, in fact, brought Waters to College Park without having seen her play. (And the Terps were way ahead of the curve. In January 1975, Maryland hosted the first nationally televised women’s basketball game.)

Waters was, by nature, a 5-10 swing player when women of that height were almost always thrust into the post out of necessity. And that was the deal for some of her time with the Terps, but over time, her skills were useful all over the floor. She remains among the program’s leaders in rebounds and in steals, a category generally dominated by guards.

In Waters’ senior season, 1981-82, the NCAA staged its first women’s basketball championship, and the Terps, having dominated the earliest days of ACC-sponsored play, received a No. 2 seed but were dispatched to the West region and paired in the first round with the host, Stanford. No matter. They rolled through the field, winning three games by double-digit margins and advancing to the first Final Four in NCAA history.

The Terps had made the national quarterfinals of the AIAW tournament, and 1982 represented a breakthrough. Waters played 150 of a possible 160 minutes and grabbed 34 rebounds in those four contests as her team worked its way to the national stage. The run ended with a loss to Cheyney State of Pennsylvania, coached by another future Hall of Famer, Vivian Stringer.

But Waters was far from through in reaping the benefits of her time at Maryland. She earned a master’s degree in family and community development and later a Ph.D. in counseling psychology. She’s what you might call a Triple Terp.

Waters’ office now helps students deal with the stresses of college life. In her spare time, she is a leader in a support group for devoted to grief counseling.