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CPS and Chicago Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot Honored Legendary Marshall High School Girls Basketball Coach, Dorothy Gaters

12 February 2022

Coach Gaters Retires After 1,513 wins, 10 State Championships and 24 City Championships

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CHICAGO -  Chicago Public Schools and Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot today honored legendary Marshall High School Head Coach Dorothy Gaters during  halftime of the Girls Varsity City Championship at UIC’s Credit Union1 Arena. CEO Pedro Martinez, CPS faculty, family and friends celebrated Gaters  for her stellar 45-year coaching career. 

Gaters, who retired from coaching in 2021, was surprised with tribute videos featuring many of her former players, coaches, and colleagues from her CPS and Marshall families. Mayor Lightfoot reflected on Coach Gaters’ impact on the CPS and Chicago community and presented her with a proclamation, naming February 12 as ‘Dorothy Gaters Day’ in Chicago.

“Coach Gaters elevated girls’ basketball not only in Chicago, but across the country,” said Mayor Lightfoot. “We are proud that she is a member of our CPS community. Coach Gaters' impact has been far reaching both on and off the basketball court, as those who were lucky enough to be coached by her or watch her in action during a game have been left in awe of and inspired by her unmatched talent and determination."

Gaters took over the Marshall Girls Basketball program at 24 years old, just a few years after Title IX provided equal opportunity for girls to play sports in 1972. Gaters and the Marshall Commandos finished as the Illinois High School Athletic Association (IHSA) runner-ups in the 1979-1980 season and secured their first of 10 state championships during the 1981-82 season.

CPS CEO Pedro Martinez, himself a CPS graduate, was among those cheering on Gaters Saturday night. 

“Dorothy Gaters’  incredible basketball knowledge, her dedication to her students' well-being and her long-time commitment to Chicago female athletes is a truly remarkable story,” said CEO Martinez. “We are grateful for her contribution to CPS and will miss her as a coach and wish her well in her retirement.”

Under Gaters’ leadership, the Commandos became the premier girls' basketball program in the city and state and became the high school home to many future college basketball and WNBA players such as Cappie Pondexter, Rita Hale, Toni Foster, Kim Williams, Janet Harris, and more. 

Gaters was instrumental in the advancement of girls' and women's basketball in Chicago and set a standard of excellence both in the classroom and on the court.

“Dorothy Gaters was a trailblazer in the sport of girls’ basketball,” said David Rosengard, Executive Director of Sports at Chicago Public Schools. “Her impact on the game and her community is unparalleled and is seen today in the thousands of student-athletes she taught and coached that have gotten the opportunity to play basketball professionally or currently serve as community leaders."

While Gaters has retired from coaching, she continues to serve as the Athletic Director at Marshall High School.