Share Your Story: Sandra Svoboda
My freshman year was the first year that women's basketball teams participated in the Big Ten Conference. We felt great respect for those who fought so hard to help us reach this pinnacle. We also felt respected when we were able to travel to every Big Ten school and compete against every team in our conference for the first time. Our schedule mirrored the men's schedule, and when the men played Iowa at home, we were playing Iowa on the road. We also used a men's-sized basketball! The women's-sized basketball was not introduced until my sophomore year, in 1983, though we always had a 30-second shot clock. There was, and is, an immense amount of gratitude for those who fought for the women's sports programs for many years to help us reach this level of competition.
Scoring the winning basket against Wisconsin my sophomore year, 1984, was my best game. We were a struggling team, but we were the only team to defeat Wisconsin on its home floor that year. Also, winning against Iowa my senior year in 1986 was also an amazing game because they were ranked 12th in the nation and headed for a Big-Ten co-Championship.
Coach Vivian Stringer coached an outstanding team, and it was an honor to play against her and be lucky enough to come out with a victory. Coach Vandeveer also led some outstanding teams at OSU, but my greatest respect was for those coaches that continued to work so hard to create strong programs on a shoe-string budget. Even winning one game against outstanding teams with established programs was like climbing Mt. Everest to us.
My experiences as a student-athlete at Michigan shaped me into the professional that I am today. As an elementary school principal, I utilize skills I learned on the floor every day, including hard work, patience, drive, motivation and perseverance. I am a better person because of the experiences I had at Michigan and competing in the Big Ten. It is a conference like no other.