They are some of the finest athletes in collegiate sports: Alaina Bergsma, AVCA National Player of the Year; Jillian Alleyne, third all-time in collegiate basketball double-doubles; Liz Brenner, multisport All-American and finalist for the Sports Illustrated College Athlete of the Year; Laura Roesler, winner of the Bowerman Award; and Courtney Ceo who led the nation in hitting last year. Two things unite these players: First, they’re all Ducks and second, they’re all women.
In 1970 when I was a student at Oregon, my friend Cindy Voelker started at the point for the women’s basketball team. Back then, “girl’s basketball” was little more than a club sport. They played their games in a musty gym in the basement of Gerlinger Hall, six players to a side, no fanfare nor any fans for that matter. Things were still stagnant in 1980 when Duck runner LeAnn Warren made the Olympic team. Women were barred from competing in any Olympic race longer than1500 meters. What a difference 45 years have made; now Oregon women’s teams routinely compete for national championships.
As far as women’s sports have come at Oregon, there’s more to be done. A new program, Women in Flight, has been created to promote Oregon women’s sports. Duck alum and softball player, Janelle Bergstrom Cook has returned to the University of Oregon to lead the initiative.
“I’m really excited that, for people with interest in women’s sports, there are now more resources to connect interested parties to our programs,” Bergstrom Cook said. “We have a lot of really amazing young women and really amazing constituents – donors, former letter winners, professionals in the community – who will have more chances to collaborate, network and, ultimately, strengthen Oregon.”
For as little as a $50 donation to Women in Flight, you can help promote women’s sports and Oregon and gain priority seating for reserved seats in the new Jane Sanders softball field. Sport just isn’t about the men. The women’s program at Oregon is a model for the nation, but there’s more to do and you can help; contribute now.
Top Photo by Gary Breedlove
Raised in the Central Oregon mill town of Prineville beneath deep blue skies and rim rock, I attended the University of Oregon and during my collegiate summers, I worked in a lumber mill and also fought range fires on the Oregon High Desert for the Bureau of Land Management. After graduating from college at the University of Oregon, I swung from being budding hippy to cop work. I’m still wondering about how that came about. I was a police officer with the Port of Portland and after leaving police work, I obtained an MFA degree in Creative Writing from Vermont College. I live in Portland, Oregon with my wife, my daughter and a spunky bichon frise named Pumpkin. I’ve had short stories publishing in two Main Street Press anthologies. Harkness is my first novel.
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