Big Ten Celebrates National Girls and Women in Sports Day

Feb. 4, 2009

Led by its member institutions, the Big Ten Conference is proud to be an active participant in the 23rd annual National Girls and Women in Sports Day (NGWSD), celebrated around the country today, Feb. 4.

On Wednesday, thousands of sports educators, coaches, athletic directors, recreation directors, association members, sponsors, students and parents across the country will show their support of the day and of this year's theme, "Look Who's Playing."

Several conference schools will celebrate NGWSD at upcoming home women’s basketball games. On Thursday, Illinois will recognize each of its women’s athletic teams during the game and, at halftime, host a meet-and-greet autograph session with members of the women’s soccer, volleyball, swimming and diving, track and field, gymnastics and tennis teams. The Illini have invited all area middle school and high school teams to attend the contest against Michigan State for “Team Day.”

Also on Thursday, Northwestern will offer two free youth admissions with each paid adult admission. All fans will have the chance to meet members of the Wildcat women’s basketball team during a postgame autograph session.

Indiana will hold its celebration on Sunday as the Hoosiers take on Illinois. Fans in attendance will have the opportunity to meet IU female student-athletes as well as try their hands at new sport skills and learn the many benefits of participating in sports. Special pre-game events include interactive stations that focus on girls’ and women’s health, fitness and safety, as well as academic success and career opportunities.

Ohio State will celebrate NGWSD on Sunday, Feb. 15, in conjunction with its Pink Zone event. Members of other Buckeye women’s sports teams will be on-hand to sign autographs prior to the game, while the first 1,000 fans in attendance will receive a breast cancer bracelet. Players, coaches and support staff will don pink for the game, and former OSU great Tracey Hall will have her jersey retired at halftime.

On Thursday, Feb. 26, Penn State will admit youth girls for free and host a postgame autograph session with student-athletes from various PSU women’s teams. The Lady Lions will recognize Penn State female athletes as well as local female youth athletes at halftime and offer a hands-on experience of women’s athletics with uniforms and various equipment on the concourse.

Several other Big Ten schools have already celebrated NGWSD, including Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota and Purdue. This past Sunday, the Boilermakers held a special pre-game event in Lambert Fieldhouse and sponsored an essay contest for middle schoolers across the state of Indiana. Purdue also recognized its 1999 national championship team as part of a weekend-long celebration. Also on Sunday, the Hawkeyes offered free admission to boys and girls wearing team jerseys, while the Wolverines admitted high school basketball players free of charge.

More recently, Minnesota held its event on Monday and offered free clinics to children and parents. Youth participants experienced many sports offered by Minnesota, while parents learned the benefits of children participating in sports and how to be supportive. Attendants at the youth clinic received a t-shirt, a Minnesota Girls and Women in Sports Day poster and free pizza.

Michigan State celebrated on Thursday, Jan. 29, as each of the Spartans’ women’s athletic teams interacted with fans on the concourse. Each sport displayed t-shirts, posters, media guides and offered sport-specific demonstrations while posing for photos and signing autographs.

NGWSD began in 1987 as a day to honor Olympic volleyball player Flo Hyman, a world-class athlete who helped the United States women's volleyball team to a silver medal at the 1984 games in Los Angeles. Hyman used her notoriety to set an example of community involvement while significantly enhancing the opportunities for girls and women in sport. Following Hyman's sudden passing while playing volleyball in Japan in 1986, NGWSD continues to evolve into a celebration of the past and recognition of current achievements for girls and women in sport.

For more information regarding NGWSD, visit