COLUMN: National Girls and Women in Sports Day: A great day to recognize significant contributions


February 5, 2020 10:00 am

By Tom Mix
NDHSAA Media Specialist

VALLEY CITY, N.D. – Today (February 5, 2020) marks National Girls and Women in Sports Day – a nationwide celebration which recognizes the accomplishments of individuals in the promotion and advancement of girls and women’s sports.

My sincere hope is this column does just that. Here it goes.

I’m now in my fourth year as the Media Specialist of the North Dakota High School Activities Association and since joining the NDHSAA staff my appreciation for the amount of work that goes into sponsoring interscholastic sports and activities at the local and state levels continues to grow by the day.

Many of the contributors who make these sports and activities possible (administrators, officials, coaches, athletes and support staff) are girls and women. Day in and day out they put in their share to make the games, tournaments, concerts, plays we all enjoy possible. These contributions are significant and merit special recognition.

As someone who has worked closely with North Dakota high school sports and activities for much of my professional career, I’ve been fortunate to interact and work with many individuals who fit the definition of what National Girls and Women in Sports Day encompasses. Odds are everyone who reads this column knows someone who embodies the qualities we recognize with today’s celebration.

Today can indeed be about honoring prominent athletes and showcasing significant accomplishments with great fanfare. It can also be a simple thank you to someone who contributes to the advancement of girls and women’s sports. It can be a social media shout-out to a co-worker, teammate, or peer who helps make girls and women’s sports possible.

It all plays today.

As this day approached, I thought about all the significant North Dakota high school girls sports stories I’ve covered as a member of the media. There are a lot. I jotted some down on a piece of scratch paper and immediately I started to recall all the details.

I remembered interviewing Laura Roesler in the summer of 2008 after she won a YMCA road race. Roesler, a Fargo South graduate, would win 22 state championships competing in cross country and track and field. She later had a decorated collegiate career at Oregon before turning pro.

I remembered covering the many prep athletic accomplishments of multi-sport stars Kira Larson (Fargo North) and Emily Stroup (Fargo South) before they went onto successful Division I Volleyball careers – Larson at Nebraska and Missouri and Stroup at Ole Miss.

I remembered watching the epic winning streaks of the Fargo Shanley and Bishop Ryan girls basketball teams unfold. Shanley rattled off a Class A state record 76 straight victories from January 2014 to January 2017. Bishop Ryan won 63 straight games from March of 2012 to December of 2014. It was Fargo Shanley who ended Bishop Ryan’s winning streak in a game played December 27, 2014 in Bismarck that the Deacons won 65-53.

I remembered witnessing girls basketball scoring records fall in the same season – the 2015-16 school year. Maple Valley’s Rylee Nudell wrapped up her prep career scoring 3,458 points – an overall state and Class B all-time scoring record. Fargo Shanley’s Sarah Jacobson broke the Class A scoring mark that season and finished her career with 2,371 points.

I remembered the Grand Forks Red River girls tennis team’s streak of 203 dual wins. The Roughriders had won 14 NDHSAA team dual state titles during the streak that ended in the spring of 2016 when Red River fell to West Fargo Sheyenne in the East Region team dual championship.

I remembered writing stories chronicling the prep hockey career of Britta Curl who scored 189 goals and 116 assists in five seasons playing for the Bismarck Blizzard. Curl now plays collegiate Division I women’s hockey at Wisconsin. Curl helped the Badgers win a national championship in 2019. In December of 2019 Curl was one of 23 players selected to the United States Women’s National Team for a Rivalry Series against Canada’s National team.

I remembered the night both Bismarck Century and LaMoure-Litchville Marion three-peated at the 2017 NDHSAA State Volleyball Tournament. Prior to that only one team – Fargo North – had ever won three straight state championships in Volleyball. Century would become the first volleyball program to win four straight state championships a year later.

There are many more. Everyone has their own favorites and today is about remembering them for what they meant to all who participated in them.

In closing I offer these words of thanks and encouragement:

To the local administrators, officials, coaches and support staff involved in girls and women’s sports I say thank you. It doesn’t happen without you. Your work is significant to many people.

To the athletes participating today in girls and women’s sports I say thank you. You are the role models young women look up to and aspire to be one day. That is a major contribution towards the promotion and advancement of girls and women’s sports. 

For more information on National Girls and Women in Sports Day visit: https://www.womenssportsfoundation.org/get-involved/ngwsd/

Follow NDHSAA on Twitter at @NDHSAA and visit www.ndhsaanow.com for the latest NDHSAA sports and activities news from around the state.