Mary Evanco was a ground breaking athlete at Bennett H.S. who excelled in three sports during the pre-Title IX era of 1972 – 1976. This was quite an achievement for a time when there were no all girls interscholastic teams funded by the Board of Education in the Buffalo Public High Schools until her senior year.
Mary broke a barrier by becoming the first girl to make Bennett’s all male cross country team in her sophomore year. She was one of the top girl runners in the city and was the first and only girl to make All-High from Bennett in 1974 by finishing in 2nd place in the entire city among girls.
Mary also played two seasons of basketball. In her freshman year Mary was a contributing forward on an “unrecognized” team, with the only undefeated season in the school (12 – 0). In her senior year, she again played as a forward on the basketball team. This was part of the girls sports program, and she earned a varsity letter for basketball. This team went on to win the Buffalo City Championship against East H.S.
Mary also played volleyball for two seasons in the girls sports program. she led Bennett to an undefeated season and the League 1 championship for the City of Buffalo in December 1975. For that she earned another varsity letter and the Buffalo Evening News “Girl Athlete of the Week”. She began playing in junior high school at PS #22 and was on the winning team at several annual Erie County Tournaments, including years when Bennett had no team. She played on many “mens power teams” during high school with men who were at a collegiate or older level. Mary received a full academic/athletic scholarship to attend SUNY at Buffalo (the first year that SUNY schools offered women athletic scholarships). After college Mary continued to play and was a member of the bronze medal Western New York Empire State volleyball team in 1981 . Mary was awarded Bennett’s “Outstanding Female Athlete Award” in 1976.
Academically, Mary finished 11th in a class of over 500 students, and won numerous awards while at Bennett, including Bennett’s “Mathematics Award” at graduation. She was a member of the National Honor Society and a New York State Regents Scholarship winner.
After graduation from college, Mary continued long distance running, including road races and one full marathon.