The D.O.L.L.S. organization was formed in 1969 by a group of mothers who were dissatisfied with the lack of athletic activities available for young women. There were few sporting activities offered within the education system or (at the time) the park district, which led this group to form a local neighborhood girls’ softball league.
One of the leading women within this group was a physical education teacher at Downers Grove South High School named Ouida Gabel. She was a native of Oklahoma, an advocate for women’s athletics, and a former collegiate athlete. After some difficulty, Gabel and several other women gained permission and $75 from the park district to begin a league known as Downers Own Little Lassies Sports (or D.O.L.L.S.).
The original plan was to incorporate volleyball and basketball into the program, but there was not enough gym space to accommodate more teams. All games and practices had to be during the day, because all available fields were given to men’s and boys’ baseball programs in the evenings.
The program began in 1969 with only two teams that played against each other, combining 9 through 14-year-olds. The league expanded to five teams in 1970 and was divided by age groups.
Ms. Gabel passed away in November of 2007.
Many individuals - far too many to accurately list - have contributed in many different ways to the ongoing growth and success of the D.O.L.L.S. organization.