University of Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletics celebrated National Girls and Women in Sports Day with a variety of events held throughout the week.
Gopher Athletics held its annual Jean K. Freeman National Girls and Women in Sports Day on Tuesday, Feb. 6, at TCF Bank Stadium. This year’s event was a speaker series about the importance of Title IX, the difference between men’s and women’s sports and showcasing Freeman’s legacy at Minnesota. Minnesota also celebrated senior associate women’s and men’s swimming coach, Terry Ganley. The event drew over 200 attendees, including over 50 former swimmers to honor Ganley, who was about to receive a special award the following day. Speakers at the event included emcee Lynnette Sjoquist, University of Minnesota sports management associate professor Lisa Kihl and executive associate athletics director Julie Manning.
Ganley, along with three additional Gopher ties, Krissy Wendell-Pohl, Shannon (Schonrock) Swanson and Kathleen Ridder, were honored at the 32-annual Minnesota Girls and Women in Sports Day, Feb. 7, at the Minnesota History Center.
Ganley received one of the year’s Special Merit Awards and has been one of the most impactful athletes and coaches in the history of women’s sports in Minnesota. In 1973 Ganley joined the women’s swim team at the University of Minnesota and became the Gophers’ first female All-American in any sport a year later. She went on to earn the AIAW honor three more times. Ganley began coaching as an assistant under legendary coach Jean Freeman and the two worked together for 27 years and won their first Big Ten title in 1999. In 2004, Ganley became co-head women’s coach and was named Associate Head Coach of the men’s and women’s teams in 2014. During her time at Minnesota, the Gopher women’s program has won seven Big Ten championships and more than 100 athletes have earned 450 All-America honors. Ganley has also been named Big Ten Co-Coach of the Year six times. From 2006 to 2015, the Gopher women finished 13th or better at the NCAA championships with three women earning national event titles. She is also a member of the Minnesota Aquatics, Minnesota “M” Club and Minnesota Swimming Coaches Association Hall of Fames.
Wendell-Pohl also received a Special Merit award this year. She began making her mark on sports from a very young age and continues to impact opportunities for girls and women in sports today. In 1994, Wendell-Pohl became the fifth girl to play in the Little League World Series and was the first to start at the catcher position. With Park Center High School, she led her team to a state championship in 2000 and scored 314 points in just two seasons. Her hockey dominance continued at the University of Minnesota where she led the Gophers to back-to-back national titles in 2004 and 2005. During her collegiate career, Wendell-Pohl was a three-time All-American, two-time WCHA Player of the Year and the 2005 Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award Winner. Wendell-Pohl finished near the top of most Minnesota women’s hockey scoring lists, including being second in career points (237) and career goals (106). Wendell-Pohl competed with the US National Team for 10 years and accumulated 17 medals including Olympic silver in 2002 and bronze in 2006. This fall, Wendell-Pohl continued to raise the bar when she joined the Fox Sports North college hockey broadcast team.
Swanson was awarded one of the “Breaking Barriers” award as she has left a lasting impact on basketball in Minnesota. Swanson graduated from Blue Earth Area High School in 2002 with 2,702 career points in girls’ basketball before serving three years as captain for the Minnesota Gophers. Swanson led the Gophers to a Final Four appearance and was named the team’s MVP in 2006 after starting every game of her four-year collegiate career. Swanson later coached at Winona State as an assistant for five seasons before returning to Blue Earth to serve as the youth development coordinator and a youth sport coach.
Kathleen Ridder and her family were the recipients of the Minnesota Legacy Award. Nothing says “Minnesota Legacy” quite like the collective lifetime of work and philanthropy of Kathleen C. Ridder. Perhaps one of the most active supporters of women’s athletics in Minnesota history, Ridder dedicated her life to ensuring equal opportunities for women in society. Raised in New York, Ridder moved to Minnesota with her husband Robert in 1943. She spent six decades as a social activist which included volunteering, championing social causes that often embraced equality for all people, and lobbying for change at the local, state and national levels of government. After growing up in the pre-Title IX era, Ridder developed a passion for providing opportunity for women in sports. Her most notable contribution may be the financial gift for the construction of the University of Minnesota’s Ridder Arena, the first women’s-only collegiate hockey arena. The Kathleen C. Ridder scholarship was also established and became the first endowed scholarship for female student-athletes and supports women who pursue a major in medicine, science or math. Her involvement also included founding the Women’s Athletics Advisory Council and chairing the campus facility project for the Gophers’ Pavilion and Mariucci Arena. In 1990, Ridder was inducted into the ‘M’ Club Hall of Fame, and she was given the University’s 2004 Director’s Award in recognition of outstanding generosity, service and commitment to Gopher Athletics. Ridder passed away in April 2017 at age of 94, but her true legacy will live on through the numerous lives of the female athletes she’s impacted in Minnesota. Accepting on the family’s behalf was Gopher women’s gymnastics coach and former Ridder Scholarship recipient, Jenny Hansen.
The University of Minnesota will continue to celebrate National Girls & Women in Sports Day through various on-campus events.
On Friday, February 9, fans entering the women’s gymnastics event, will receive a free rally towel (while supplies last). Women’s basketball will also feature their Play for Kay Pink Game and offer tickets at a discounted price. To purchase tickets to Friday’s gymnastics release, click HERE. To purchase tickets to Sunday’s women’s basketball game, click HERE.
The Tucker Center will also hold its eighth annual women in sport film festival on Tuesday, Feb. 13 at TCF Bank Stadium. The featured film is “Battle of the Sexes”, the true story of the 1973 tennis match between Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs. The event is free and open to the public. Doors open at 6:30 p.m., and film begins at 7 p.m., in the DQ Club Room.
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