The Minnesota Lynx made history on Saturday night as it clinched the league's best record and homecourt advantage throughout the 2013 WNBA playoffs.
Long before that history was made, though, pioneers in Minnesota were trying to build up basketball for girls and women to make it what it is today. Before the game against the Chicago Sky, the Lynx and YMCA presented "Links to the Past, Lynx to the Future." It was an event that honored those who have paved the way for women's basketball.
More than 90 people were in attendance, with dinner being served from 5 to 7 p.m. on the suite level of the Target Center.
There were speakers leading up to the game, and there was even a guest appearance from Lynx head coach Cheryl Reeve who addressed the women being honored and the fans in attendance.
"Honoring where we came from is something comes from the very fabric of someone who I have always been and now at the age of 46, I feel even more strongly about," Reeve said. "Where we came from, where this great game started... I think for our players, there are things I try to teach them along the way besides the game and the idea of not to take the thing of what they do for granted. These ladies get to play professionally. They are so blessed and it's because of the pioneers here in this room."
Those being honored were Peggy Lucas, Pam Borton, Pat Lamb, Dorothy McIntyre and Marian Bemis Johnson.
Lucas is a graduate of the University of Minnesota and has been an advocate of equity in athletics for girls and women. She is also a newly elected member of the Board of Regents at the University of Minnesota.
Borton is the head coach of the University of Minnesota women's basketball team and coached current Lynx players Janel McCarville and Lindsay Whalen to the Final Four back in 2004. She is also the co-founder and president of Team WomenMN, a non-profit organization aimed at coaching emerging women leaders at all levels.
Lamb is currently a professor emeritus of Carleton College and has helped girls and women become athletes and coaches through training. For more than 30 years, she has provided the facilities and encouragement for the conduct of annual workshops for teachers who would become coaches of the growing numbers of female athletes.
McIntire was named associate director at the Minnesota State High School League in 1970, a position that she held for 32 years. She's developed teams and state tournaments for high schools girls and is the co-author of two books on the history of girls and women's sports.
"When we started with girls basketball in early the early 1970s, I was the director for the first girls state basketball tournament in 1976 and the girls had to start playing with very little practice, very little experience," McIntire said. "No summer camps, all of those things that they have today, but they loved the game. We have camps that have built the tradition in high school and college and now to have a professional women's team, we just don't think we could get any luckier."
The final speaker was Johnson, who graduated from Mankato State University and helped develop the intercollegiate program at Lakewood Community College, later becoming the women's athletic director and coached volleyball, basketball, softball and tennis. She then researched why there were interscholastic teams for her mother in 1923, but none for herself.
It was an event to celebrate where women's basketball came from and where it is today. There probably isn't a better testament to that than the Lynx players that tipped off later that evening.
"Our players need to give back, we need all of you supporting this idea of continuing to move women forward," Reeve said.
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