Advocates team up to recognize women and girls in sports
Experiences, challenges and triumphs connect the past, present and future of women and girls in Minnesota sports.
Leaders in advancing girl’s and women's sports in Minnesota received recognition for National Girls and Women in Sports Day at a ceremony inside the Minnesota History Center in St. Paul on Wednesday.
The honorees represented a range of sports and included professional players, coaches and students.
They included former St. Cloud State University Women's Nordic Skiing and Tennis athletes who sued and won, alleging the university violated Title IX by not providing equal opportunities for female athletes.
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Honorees mentioned the monumental federal civil rights law from 1972, and the strides and struggles women and girls have faced in the years that followed.
“I stand here today as a leader, and I have this opportunity because I am standing on the shoulders of so many,” event co-director Jennifer Flowers said. “And there are so many of you that are going to stand on my shoulders one day.”
The founders of Minnesota Aurora were also honored for gaining thousands of investors to start the pre-professional soccer team, which sold out games immediately and won the USLW regular season title.
Team president Andrea Yoch said the entire process of the team uplifts women.
“We are showing them they can be CFOs, they can be team attorneys, marketing people,” Yoch said. “And from our first year we know that not only is the future bright for Minnesota Aurora but the future is really bright for girls and women in sports."
A coach and student were also honored with individual awards for their roles with the St. Cloud Apollo High School Majorettes.
Coach Shana Black started the dance team in 2021 for girls who would like to dance but didn’t have a dance background. All girls are welcome to join the team. Black was given an award for breaking barriers.
“I’m pulling out potential they didn’t know they had in themselves,” Black said in a district video about the team. “I’ve watched them open up so much.”
Anna Meyer-Stark, who learned to walk at the age of three-and-a-half, is one of the students on the dance team.
“I really like when the audience claps their hands with me,” Meyer-Stark told the audience. “Dancing makes me feel really good in my soul.”
Meyer-Stark's mother, Joanie Meyer accompanied her on stage at the awards ceremony inside the Minnesota History Center auditorium. While her mother describes her as facing physical and academic struggles after being born at just 25 weeks, Meyer-Stark said dance is where her daughter finds her stride.
“She doesn’t get to work from her strengths, school is hard for her,” Meyer-Stark said. “But when she dances, she’s a dancer.”
In 1986, Olympic volleyball player Flo Hyman was the first honoree, posthumously, for her work promoting equality in women's sports.