Dorothy McIntyre couldnt help but think about the journey girls basketball took in this state that enabled her to be standing at center court, alongside Lynx Director of Business Operations Carley Knox, being recognized as part of the Lynxs Inspiring Women program on Saturday night.
She thought about the early days of girls athletics in Minnesota 40 years ago, the struggles to receive financial backing and the difficulty finding court time for practice. She thought about the thrill of being at Met Center for the first ever girls state basketball tournamentwhich happened to be the first of 25 straight years shed act as the tournaments director. She thought about how girls basketball itself originated in Northfield, benefitting from Max Exner taking Dr. James Naismiths new game and teaching it at Carlton College in the 1890s.
All this crossed her mind as McIntyre, once voted by the Star Tribune as one of the 100 most influential Minnesota sports figures of the 20th century, received a standing ovation from a packed Target Center crowd on hand to watch the Lynx clinched home court throughout the 2013 WNBA Playoffs. Along with being a lifetime educator and advocate for female sports, McIntyre also recently co-authored the book, Daughters of the Game, which chronicles the history of girls and womens basketball in Minnesota from 1981-1942.
I remembered all those things, even the hard times, because it wasnt all so easy, McIntyre said. But boy, was every minute worth it.
McIntyre had a hand in helping cultivate the girls basketball culture still alive in this state today, and every time you pass through the Target Center gates and sit here for a Lynx game, you can feel it. Minnesotas girls basketball history dates back further than any other state, and as McIntyre was in arena on Saturday the Lynx helped celebrate that history.
There were about 90 people on hand pre-game in a suite-level conference room listening to key-note speakers like Gophers womens basketball coach Pam Borton. The message of those speakers, McIntyre said, was to honor the states girls basketball history while linking it to the future. The state currently has a professional basketball team thats had the Western Conferences top record for three straight years, won two straight Western Conference titles and one WNBA championship. The future is bright.
These current athletes, from the WNBA players all the way down to elementary school participants, are benefiting from the rampant growth of the sport over the past 40 years. Theyre getting opportunities to go to camps, play high school sports and, potentially, advance to the collegiate or professional ranks because of all the athletes and educators who worked hard and helped grow the sport over the years.
If you would have told McIntyre shed be honored for being an influential member in that cause back when she was graduating from a 14-person class in Iowa years ago, she admits she probably wouldnt have believed it.
But McIntyre dedicated her time as an educator, both as a teacher and as part of the Minnesota State High School League, to expanding sports programs for girls. Looking back at where the journey began compared to where it is now, the hard work was worth it.
Everything has to have a good foundation in order to be a lasting monument, McIntyre said. We built a good, solid foundation. And now everything is building on top of that, and its still good and solid. We just think its going to last forever and ever.
McIntyre believed in the cause. She spent her professional life working for it, and on Saturday she was able to hear the gratitude of a sold-out arena for the time she dedicated year in and year out.
I think tonight is really a culmination of so many things for so many years, she said. And the blood, sweat and tears of so many people have gone into this. When you walk into an atmosphere like this, you say, Yes, we were right. Women should have this opportunity, and look what they can do when they get the chance.
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