Feb. 5, 2014
Several women’s athletics programs at the University of Minnesota are among the nation’s elite, making Gopher athletes and coaches outstanding ambassadors for gender equity in sports, as well as role models to aspiring female athletes and coaches.
The U of M will showcase some of that talent at events tied to Minnesota Girls and Women in Sport Day (MGWSD), which will be celebrated throughout the state on Wednesday, February 5 and will be observed with events involving Gopher athletics throughout the week.
The celebration began Wednesday with the annual Jean Freeman Girls & Women in Sports Breakfast held this year at TCF Bank Stadium. With 175 in attendance, this year’s keynote speaker was former Minnesota women’s athletics director, Chris Voelz. As the Gopher women’s athletics director from 1988-2002, Voelz made monumental strides in the women’s department, as it won its first national championship (women’s hockey), increased the number of endowed scholarships and was significantly involved in securing over $16 million toward the building of new facilities. She was inducted into the Minnesota Hall of Fame in 2007.
Also speaking at the breakfast were Gopher alums and Olympians Shani Marks Johnson (track & field) and Jillian Tyler (swimming) as master of ceremonies Lynnette Sjoquist conducted a question and answer session with each of the former student-athletes.
The day continued as the Gopher women’s hockey team was honored at the Minnesota State Capitol Rotunda in St. Paul, Minn. In conjunction with MGWSD, two of the four Gopher captains, Bethany Brausen and Baylee Gillanders, represented the program as they were honored. Along with the Concordia-St Paul women’s volleyball team, the Gopher women’s hockey team received the Minnesota Milestone Award. The award is given to a Minnesota program that has achieved a significant milestone within a respective girls or women’s sport. The Gophers compiled a 62-game win streak, while it capped off a 41-0-0 record last year en route to back-to-back national championships.
The festivities commence on Thursday and Friday with a pair of events held in the DQ Club Room at TCF Bank Stadium. On Thursday night, The Tucker Center Film Festival, will center on the theme of “Women in Coaching,” showing “Pat XO” and “Coach” – films about legendary women’s basketball coaches Pat Summitt and Vivian Stringer – from ESPN’s “Nine for IX” documentary series. Additionally, festival-goers will see a trailer for the film “From the Rough,” which documents the first female to coach a collegiate men’s golf team, and the short film “Why Women Coaches Matter.” For more information on attending the film festival, visit: http://www.cehd.umn.edu/tuckercenter/events/filmfest/default.html
On Friday, several former and current coaches from multiple Golden Gopher women’s teams will participate in The Tucker Center’s “We Coach U: A Women Coaches Symposium.” This day-long symposium focused on female coaches, as well as student-athletes with an interest in coaching, will provide professional development, mentoring, and networking opportunities. The event includes a panel discussion featuring current Gopher coaches Pam Borton (women’s basketball), Terry Nieszner (women’s swimming and diving), Sarah Hopkins (women’s cross country) and Stefanie Golan (women’s soccer), as well as former Gopher women’s hockey head coach Laura Halldorson. For more information on the symposium, including registration to attend, please visit: http://www.cehd.umn.edu/tuckercenter/events/symposium/default.html
To wrap on the on-campus celebrations, female student-athletes from select Gopher teams will participate in a post-game autograph session for youth in attendance at Sunday’s women’s basketball game against Illinois, which tips off at 2 p.m. at Williams Arena. A limited number of pink MGWSD shirts will be distributed to girls in 8th grade and young as part of the event on a first-come, first-served basis.
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