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Photo courtesy Mike Bennett/Lighthouse Imaging

Women in Sports to Take Center Stage at National Conference Held on Campus

Muffet McGraw, the University of Notre Dame women’s basketball coach, joins two other big names in the world of women’s sports to keynote this month’s “A Mirror of Our Culture: Sport and Society in America.” 

The national conference, hosted by St. Norbert College and the Green Bay Packers, also features award-winning journalist Christine Brennan and Dr. Julia Chase-Brand, the distance runner who in the 1960s broke through barriers that prevented women competing in longer races.

Also joining the headliners will be members of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League. These pioneering players, now in their nineties, will present a panel discussion at the May 19-21 event.

The conference, the third of its kind, will also feature a guided tour of Lambeau Field, admission to the traveling exhibit “Linedrives and Lipstick: The Untold Story of Women’s Baseball,” screenings of sports-related films, panel discussions on women in sports, paper submissions, a conference dinner and luncheons at Lambeau Field and St. Norbert College.

Keith Sherony, professor of economics at St. Norbert and conference director, is pleased by the response from academics.

“I believe that we have about 55 paper abstracts submitted, so we will have a full complement of sessions taking place over the course of the first full day,” he says. “We’ve tried to create an environment where people are able to enjoy other aspects of women in sports. The ‘Linedrives and Lipstick’ exhibit will open when the conference opens and then will remain on campus a couple of weeks. That will be a nice draw, a nice experience for the conference attendees, but we are also hoping that the community will partake in that. The first two addresses, Brennan and McGraw, will also be open to the public. We will set aside space for the conference attendees and then open it up on a first-come, first-served basis.”

Brennan, a sports columnist for USA Today, author of seven books and commentator for ABC and ESPN, will deliver the opening address at the conference. She will discuss the success of women in sports since Title IX, the gender equity civil rights law of 1972 that allowed young women the opportunity to play sports of their choice and obtain higher education through athletic opportunities.

McGraw, who led the Fighting Irish to the 2001 NCAA national championship and tournament championship game appearances in 2011, 2012 and 2014, will present “Women in Leadership” in her keynote address on May 20 at 7:30 p.m. She will hold a clinic for Wisconsin coaches on May 19 at Schuldes Sports Center.

Chase-Brand will offer a luncheon address. In 1961, Chase-Brand challenged the Amateur Athletic Union’s ban on women’s distance running and forced the acceptance of the first women into cross-country meets.

Two panel discussions will be among the activities held at Lambeau Field and will precede Chase-Brand’s address. (The conference is co-sponsored by St. Norbert College and the Green Bay Packers.)

“The first panel will be made up of eight female athletes who have achieved success at the collegiate level and some professionally,” says Sherony. “They will answer questions from the audience. The second group of panelists will be coaches of women’s sports teams, both men and women coaches, who will discuss the challenges they face. The panel discussions should build on the important academic component of the conference.

May 6, 2014