Celebrating Black Voices, Features, Off-Campus Profiles, Profiles

First and Foremost, Doxie McCoy

When Doxie McCoy started a minority student newspaper at Boston College, she was the first to do it.

When she played as a goalie for BC women’s hockey, she was the first to do it.

And when she became a BC athlete, she was likely the first Black woman to do it. 

When McCoy, BC ’77, arrived at BC in 1973, the University had only become fully coeducational three years prior. BC was also a predominantly white school, but McCoy said she was used to this type of environment after attending a mostly white all-girls Catholic high school in Washington, D.C. McCoy said she and her older sister were the only Black players on the various sports teams they joined growing up. So, when McCoy arrived at BC, she did not hesitate to get involved. 

“I didn’t really have hesitation against trying out for the teams at BC even though, you know, I would be the only African American, at least on field hockey and also volleyball at the time,” McCoy said. 

In 1972, the federal government passed Title IX, a law prohibiting discrimination based on sex within educational programs or activities that receive federal funding. But, BC’s journey toward equality for men’s and women’s sports was not immediate. McCoy was not slowed down by this reality. 

“I’m sure the men’s sports were funded, you know, a lot more than the women’s sports were, but I just wanted to go out and play,” McCoy said. “And so that’s what I did.”

One day, while McCoy was practicing as a goalie for the field hockey team, former men’s hockey coach John “Snooks” Kelley asked her if she wanted to play on the first women’s ice hockey team at BC. Although she did not know how to skate, McCoy gradually learned and served as the team’s first-ever goalie in 1973. 

(Photo Courtesy of Heights Archives)

When Kathryn O’Leary, BC ’79, arrived at BC, she joined McCoy on the women’s hockey team. O’Leary played ice hockey on a private team and figure skated while growing up in Hopkinton, Mass., so she said she had a background in the sport that many of her teammates—including McCoy—did not. At the time, O’Leary said women’s hockey teams were only common in New England.

“The fact that she was from D.C., and she played on the women’s ice hockey team was just, you know, over the top,” O’Leary said. 

The team had nowhere near the funding it needed in its first years, McCoy and O’Leary said. They played in sweatpants and the little gear they could provide for themselves. They had no locker rooms, so they lugged their equipment and gear around to their classes, changing in the bathroom before hitting the rink for practice. When they played away games, O’Leary said they often slept on the floor in the rooms of their competitors. Despite all of these challenges, O’Leary and McCoy still committed themselves to the sport, embracing what they did have and laying the foundation for future female athletes. 

“At one point, they did give us some jerseys that the men’s team didn’t need anymore,” O’Leary said. “So we at least had jerseys that said ‘Boston College.’”

But McCoy said she did not enroll at BC solely for the sports. The most important factor in her college search was finding a good communications program. 

So at BC, McCoy majored in communications and English. When she was not in the classroom or at practice, McCoy spent time writing for The Heights as a sports reporter. During her senior year, McCoy started Collage, a student newspaper focused on the lives of Black students and other minorities on campus.

“It was focused on Black students, African American students, and what they were doing on campus,” McCoy said. “It was just a way of covering subjects, issues, events, or activities that might not necessarily have been covered in The Heights.”

McCoy said she gathered a team of students who worked together to cover events, take photos, and make editorial decisions. Through Collage, she gave Black students a platform where they could report on events impacting their community. 

“It was a good way for me to help hone my journalistic skills, as well as, you know, give opportunities for fellow students who were interested in journalism,” McCoy said. 

For Collage, McCoy wrote about a wide range of topics impacting Black students, from on-campus Kwanzaa celebrations to the Black Talent Program—a student-run program created by the University in hopes of recruiting more Black students to attend BC. 

Many students, including McCoy, pushed the University to implement measures beyond the Black Talent Program and make greater strides toward inclusivity. As a part of the Black Student Forum, McCoy participated in protests where she and other students urged the administration to admit more Black students. 

“I recall having a number of protests walking through the campus,” McCoy said. “The goal was to have at least 10 percent Black students at the University.”

After reporting for The Heights, Collage, and the campus radio station, WZBC, McCoy knew she wanted to continue pursuing journalism, but said she could not decide whether to dive right into the workforce or attend graduate school.

“I decided, because I was torn, that I would apply to Columbia,” McCoy said. “And if I got in, I would go, and if not I’d go look for a job, and I got in.” 

After sharpening her reporting and writing skills at Columbia School of Journalism, McCoy said she was determined to become a TV reporter. She worked her way up in the journalism industry, starting off as a receptionist at a gospel music radio station and then securing a job as a news assistant at WTOP Radio, a radio station in the District of Columbia.

Since then, she has worked at various media outlets, including Black Entertainment Television (BET), where she said she worked on several different shows. In 2001, McCoy was awarded two NAACP Image Awards for her work at BET reporting on police brutality and the U.S. Census court.

“I’d cover, you know, things happening in Congress, and things that … would have been of national interest to a national African American audience,” McCoy said. 

Eventually, McCoy pivoted to a career in government communications. She now works as a public information officer for the Office of the People’s Counsel in D.C., where she oversees the communications strategy for the government agency. McCoy also serves as the vice chair of communications for the North Atlantic region of Alpha Kappa Alpha (AKA), the oldest sorority in the United States established by African American women. In this role, Doxie said she works to foster a community for Black women in her area and help underserved communities in Washington, D.C. 

“With the sorority it’s about service, and it’s also about sisterhood,” McCoy said. “You know, it sounds like a cliche, but that’s what it’s about—sisterhood and service.”

McCoy is also active in the National Association and Washington Association of Black Journalists, two networks for Black journalists of all ages. Enid Doggett, a friend of McCoy who she met during her time at WTOP Radio, said McCoy acts as a mentor to many of the young professionals in these associations. 

“It’s not uncommon to hear somebody in Atlanta or somebody in Chicago, who, actually, Doxie was a mentor to,” Doggett said. “I think that she’s been able to balance her life and strike that balance with what she gives and what she puts out in the community.”

Doggett pointed to one memory in particular that she said speaks to McCoy’s supportive character. When Doggett’s car broke down, McCoy came and helped her push it down Capitol Hill. 

“My blue Volkswagen Beetle conked out on the Hill, and she got behind and pushed,” Doggett said.

On both a personal and professional level, Doggett said she has always admired McCoy for her drive and commitment to the people and issues she cares about. 

“Before there was authentic, there was Doxie,” Doggett said.

February 22, 2023