University of Minnesota

2018 Fall eTCN

As I write this column, a new semester is beginning and the Great Minnesota Get-Together is celebrating its 154th year. Though we can’t compete with that remarkable history, in 2018, the Tucker Center is honoring—and celebrating—our 25th anniversary. To commemorate this milestone, we have asked individuals representing our various stakeholder groups to share their experiences about the role and impact of what remains the first and only interdisciplinary center of its kind in this country. These groups represent graduate students, Fellowship recipients, Affiliated Scholars from a number of academic disciplines, administrative leaders, and our generous donors and community partners. In this newsletter we have a series of invited columns written by individuals who serve as exemplars of each of our stakeholder groups. In addition to these guest columnists, we have asked numerous others from around the globe to tell us—and you—what the Tucker Center has meant to them both personally and professionally. You can read their responses on our website at One such response from Donna Lopiano, former head of the Women’s Sports Foundation, perhaps says it best: “The Tucker Center is simply a gem and has been for 25 years. For those who work to ensure gender equity, [your] center is the most trusted source for research-supported facts.”

One of our first and most enduring initiatives is the annual Distinguished Lecture Series whose purpose is to highlight the most timely and cutting-edge issues in women’s sports. Over the years we have featured such topics as media representations of female athletes, the role of physical activity in reducing obesity, and how social media impacts the various ways we consume women’s sports. This Fall’s Distinguished Lecture will explore an equally important—and timely—issue: The challenges and opportunities associated with being a head coach in women’s college sports. On Tuesday, October 16th, we will host a panel featuring the new coaching staff of Gopher women’s basketball. Lindsay Whalen, Kelly Roysland and Danni O’Banion will examine what it means to be a role model for young girls and boys, and also share strategies for what can be done to increase the number of females entering the coaching profession in today’s big-time college sportsworld. They will be joined by former U of M Athletic Director, Joel Maturi, who will his share his insights on what ADs can do to hire women into leadership positions. See the back page for more details about this exciting panel.

As we enter our 25th year, I couldn’t be more proud of what we have accomplished as we fulfill our mission to make a difference in the lives of young girls and women. I hope you will join us as we embark on our next 25!

Austin Stair Calhoun
—Former Ph.D. Student

A story I never tire of telling is how I came to the University of Minnesota to pursue a Ph.D. in Kinesiology. (Spoiler alert: It had everything to do with the Tucker Center for Research on Girls & Women in Sport!). Over a decade ago, when I was looking at doctoral programs, my master’s advisor told me, “If you work at the Tucker Center, and study with Dr. Mary Jo Kane, you’ll be set for life.” My subsequent decision to move from southwestern Virginia to the Midwest would become an amazing catalyst for countless opportunities, impactful relationships, and a life I am so very proud of.

Through the Tucker Center and the mentorship of both Drs. Kane and LaVoi, I was able to hone my research interests on sport media and take ideas that were amorphous and anecdotal and transform them into scholarship and advocacy. Almost immediately I presented nationally and internationally on these topics, spearheaded the Tucker Center’s social media strategy, and masterminded a film festival on women and girls in sport. Five years later, I was a Ph.D., a mother of three, and had just started a new job as an administrator at the U of M’s Medical School.

So many of those accomplishments and my life’s trajectory can be traced back to the Tucker Center—to the mentorship I received, to the colleagues I collaborated with, to the research I undertook, and to the connections and networks I’ve built.

What’s more, I am not alone in this. Dozens and dozens of undergraduate and graduate students can undoubtedly tell a similar story: A story where the Tucker Center and its staff helped them get a job, develop a research idea, build a lifelong network, or earn some initials after their name. And in my case, all of the above.

Cheryl Cooky
—Affiliated Scholar

It is my pleasure to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Tucker Center, a unique inter-disciplinary center recognized nationally and internationally for its research and advocacy for girls and women in physical activity and sport, particularly in the areas of media coverage and the lack of women in leadership positions. As the first and only research center of its kind, scholars, educators and policy makers around the globe see it as an invaluable, “go to” resource. The Tucker Center produces and disseminates scholarly work that not only shapes and influences the field, but also has a direct, positive impact on girls’ and women’s lives.

Tucker Center scholars and graduate students have published academic papers and reports that are widely cited. This research is critically important for a number of reasons. First, they are adept at identifying significant gaps in our knowledge base and design studies that address these gaps and leverage empirical evidence which supports advocacy efforts. For example, Mary Jo Kane and Nicole LaVoi’s studies on media representations of female athletes challenge the conventional wisdom that “sex sells sports” and does so with compelling empirical findings. Their research has been essential to my own scholarship on sport, media and gender.

Second, the Tucker Center is committed to making their research relevant and meaningful beyond the walls of the academy. Their longitudinal reports on the status of women in coaching have had a tremendous impact on addressing the lack of women in leadership positions. These reports are accessible to coaches, parents, teachers/educators, as well as scholars and students. I have heard from a number of academics, as well as girls’ sports program coordinators, how much they value this particular resource. The accessibility of evidence-based knowledge is particularly crucial for those who work outside academia, as they often lack access to the latest research and trends. The Tucker Center plays an invaluable role in bridging that gap.

It is my honor to be an Affiliated Scholar of the Tucker Center. Celebrating the 25th anniversary speaks to the Center’s impact and influence and I look forward to the next 25 years! Congratulations. And Happy Anniversary!

Jill Ellis
—U.S. National Women’s Soccer Team

Not really a surprise, but as coaches we become absorbed in all things as it relates to our team: scouting, line-ups, training, matches, etc. It can become a closed loop, and often feel isolating, as our peers serve also as our rivals. What my experience with the Tucker Center did for me was realign and expand my perspective on my community as a whole. It helped me understand that the experiences we face in our own environments are mutual, and to then actually share some of those experiences with others in the Women’s Coaches Symposium was empowering. I left that forum with the gift of feeling connected.

I also left optimistic. Many of us committed to careers in women’s sports truly embrace the role of leaving it better than it was, and I must say that the Tucker Center stands committed to championing women’s sports. When I speak to groups about the challenges and inequalities we face in women’s sports, I frequently reference the valuable research and data produced by the Tucker Center to frame and support my comments. Through their passion to lead and educate in women’s sports, I firmly believe the Tucker Center represents a valuable ally to all of us who want to not just preserve, but to evolve the field of women’s sports.

Caroline Heffernan
—Pam Borton Fellow

I had the privilege of being awarded the Pam Borton Fellowship in 2016, where I got a firsthand look at the impact of the Tucker Center. I assisted in research focused on athletic directors’ understanding of female coaches’ underrepresentation within Division I and Division III athletics. This work was later published in a top-tier scholarly journal. Like many of you, I was keenly aware of the Tucker Center’s groundbreaking research, ranging from their annual Women and Sport Coaching Report Cards to media representations of female athletes. Both these lines of research are essential for critiquing and shaping sport, yet are only one piece of the impact of this one-of-a-kind interdisciplinary center. What truly distinguishes the Tucker Center is its mentorship of students. Throughout its 25-year history, the Tucker Center has recognized its role in training and mentoring women and men about the importance of continued advocacy for girls’ and women’s engagement in sport. Drs. Kane and LaVoi clearly recognize that in order to achieve the Tucker Center’s mission of creating a sport system that values and respects gender equity, a comprehensive approach is necessary. Tucker Center students have gone on to successful careers in industry and academia, where we incorporate critical lenses in our work and advocate for gender equity with the explicit goal of making the sport industry better. The Tucker Center embodies the notion that love of sport does not absolve it from critique; rather, we base our concerns and analysis in our reverence for sport and the opportunities it provides and, more importantly, the desire to extend these opportunities to everyone. I’m incredibly grateful for the experience of being a Borton Fellow and I look forward to contributing to its remarkable record and legacy.

Sherece Lamke
—Community Partner

Twin Cities PBS congratulates The Tucker Center on 25 game-changing years of research on women and girls in sport. We are proud to be a community partner working alongside members of the Tucker Team over the past decade on three groundbreaking documentaries. This important collaboration is directly aligned with our own mission to bring nationally relevant and highly impactful content to our community.

Our first documentary partnership, “Concussions and Female Athletes,” discussed leading research on concussions among young female athletes and the changing approaches to sports safety. It was nominated for an EMMY.

In our second documentary partnership, “Media Coverage and Female Athletes,” we explored why 40% of all athletes are women, but only 4% are represented in the vast sports media landscape—and far too often that coverage is on how sportswomen look versus their incredible athletic prowess. We won an EMMY together!

This fall we’ll premiere our third documentary, “Game On: Women Can Coach.” It examines a growing body of research which shows that though there has been an explosion of women participating in athletics since Title IX, just 40% of them are coached by women! The program highlights why women coaches matter, dispels false narratives about women’s leadership abilities, explores the barriers women face and celebrates some amazing female coaches. We hope it starts conversations, inspires the next generation and helps create informed and much needed change. All three of these documentaries have been offered nationally to other PBS stations.

At Twin Cities PBS I have been a part of hundreds of partnerships and thousands of television and online programs over 16 years of partnership production. I can say without hesitation that the Tucker Center collaboration has stood out as something I am most proud of, as a sports fan, as a parent and as a woman.


Heather Burns & Kathleen Maloy
—Tucker Center Donors

The Live to Give Equity & Justice Fund makes strategic and catalytic gifts to promote social justice, gender equity and human rights. We place particular priority on initiatives that focus on girls and women. As donors, we provide financial support to the Tucker Center because we are inspired by their groundbreaking work, efforts that embody their commitment to and passion for gender equity in sport. We firmly believe that a more level playing field in the sportsworld will catalyze gender equity in other socioeconomic and political arenas.

Perhaps more than any other factor, gender norms influence the extent to which girls participate in or shun physical activity. For a girl to develop a sense of physical competence, she must actively and assertively breach the limits of traditionally defined femininity. Knowing that one is sufficiently strong and capable to challenge and overcome stereotypic socially manufactured constructions of femininity as fragile and helpless is an empowering experience. Participation in sports creates these opportunities for young girls. Girls confident in their strengths and capabilities will become strong and vibrant women, and will provide the leadership necessary for a strong and vibrant world.

We have invested our funding to create a paid summer internship program in Gender Equity in Sport for two reasons: 1) our experience tells us that this is a critical moment for personal and professional growth for young women; and 2) unpaid internships discriminate among deserving applicants as a function of their economic status. As donors, we are gratified by the dedicated stewardship of the Tucker Center. We see that summer interns get invaluable mentoring and learning experiences that will help them in their own professional development. Interns work on significant research projects that inspire them to experience the transformational impact of their efforts. In all cases, summer interns see that their work advances the core mission of the Tucker Center—making a difference in the lives of girls and women. And when they do, they themselves become young leaders who will use their passion and commitment to ensure that girls and women everywhere achieve gender equity in sports and beyond.

Jean Quam
—Administrative Leader

For many years, I have kept what is now a yellowed Doonesbury cartoon above my desk. In the cartoon, a young girl is giving advice to Joanie Caucus, her middle-aged day care teacher, who has decided to leave teaching to go to law school. Even though she is sad to be losing her teacher, the little girl turns around, raises a fist and says, “Dare to be great, Ms. Caucus!”

That motto helps me explain the remarkable history of the Tucker Center which is housed in the College of Education and Human Development. At a major research institution that is rigorous in its support of only the very best scholarship, the Tucker Center has not only been great, it has been outstanding since its inception in 1993.

I had the pleasure of visiting the Center’s founding benefactor, Dorothy McNeill Tucker, in her Texas home a few times since I became the College Dean. Her expectation when she provided the initial funds to establish the Center was that it become the leading research entity in its field—nothing less than greatness would do! Unfortunately, Dr. Tucker passed away recently, but she lived long enough to witness the amazing and unprecedented accomplishments of her namesake.

When one reviews the legacy of the Tucker Center over the past 25 years, they have done phenomenal work. They created opportunities for affiliated scholars, visiting scholars and student interns to bring faculty and students together from all over the country and abroad. Their Distinguished Lecture Series has touched on such cutting-edge topics as female athletes and concussions, the role of physical activity in reducing obesity among minority athletes, women and aging, the impacts of social media, homophobia in women’s sports, eating disorders, and the professionalization of youth sports. Two recent events stand out for me—a panel consisting of University of Minnesota Olympians, and a Great Conversation between Lindsay Whalen and Lynx head coach, Cheryl Reeve.

I look forward to seeing what the next 25 years will bring for the Tucker Center as they continue to dare to be great!

Gender Equity Summer Interns

Sarah Cummings will be a senior in the fall of 2018 at Ithaca College, where she is studying Integrated Marketing Communications with a minor in Sports Studies. After this upcoming school year, Sarah intends to go into the field of sports marketing, with hopes to later further her education in sports sociology or law. This summer she worked on creating #HERESPROOF infographics, and coded data for NCAA Women Coaches Academy graduates to evaluate occupational patterns over time. Sarah has been inspired by the research done at the Tucker Center and stated, “My time as a Tucker Center gender equity intern was an experience I will carry with me for the rest of my life. I was able to participate in and witness paramount research in the field of gender equity in sport, furthering my passion and giving me unparalleled insight into how such an incredible facility is able to operate and thrive.”

Hannah Silva-Breen received a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Exercise Physiology from Gustavus Adolphus College in the spring of 2018. Currently, she coaches girls’ basketball for the Minnesota Suns, is a certified group fitness instructor with the YMCA, and works as an Eating Disorder Technician at The Emily Program. Hannah helped write the Head Coaches of Women’s Collegiate Teams: A Comprehensive Report on NCAA Division-I Institutions, 2017-18 Report Card, and collected data for a ground-breaking longitudinal study on occupational turnover patterns for D-I coaches of women’s teams. As a returning intern from 2017, Hannah stated, “I had the best time working in the Tucker Center this summer! I was able to work alongside some great people while developing my writing, critical thinking, and statistical analysis skills. It’s truly a wonderful feeling to see something you worked hard on make a difference in sport and society! I don’t think I would have had a chance to make an impact like this without the Tucker Center.”

Pam Borton Fellow for Girls & Women in Sport Leadership

Matea Wasend finished her Master’s degree in the School of Kinesiology in May 2018, advised by Dr. LaVoi. Wasend’s thesis examined the impact of women college coaches on female athletes’ likelihood to enter into the coaching profession. This summer, as a returning Borton Fellow, she worked with LaVoi on aspects of the Tucker Center Research Report: Developing Physically Active Girls, and the Athletic Administration Best Practices for Recruiting, Hiring and Retaining Women College Coaches report. As a two-year Borton Fellow, Matea has been invaluable, her contributions appreciated, and we wish her the best as she starts a new chapter in her career.

Over the summer the Tucker Center released two important research reports pertaining to our work for women coaches. The first report was the latest Women in College Coaching Report Card (WCCRC) where we presented comprehensive data on all NCAA D-I institutions. We assigned grades to institutions, conferences and sports for the percentage of head coaches of women’s teams. The goals of the WCCRC are to stimulate dialogue, raise awareness, and hold decision-makers accountable in the hiring and retention of women coaches.

The second report, Athletic Administration Best Practices of Recruitment, Hiring and Retention of Female Collegiate Coaches, was a project funded by the NCAA Office of Inclusion. To date, after six years of compiling the WCCRC, far more Fs have been assigned than As and Bs. Over the course of the last five years, we were often asked, “What are the A and B schools doing to hire women?” We didn’t know the answer. For the limited number of institutions who received an A or B, no data existed as to what these “above average” Athletic Administrators (ADs) and institutions were doing to recruit, hire and retain women head coaches. This study aimed to fill this knowledge gap.

To disseminate our research we often speak to stakeholder groups in order to educate and help catalyze change. In 2018 alone, Dr. Nicole M. LaVoi has spoken to the following groups: the NCAA Women Coaches Academy, Women Coaches Symposium, Old Dominion Athletic Conference Women in Athletics Symposium, USA Swimming Women in Leadership Summit, NCAA Inclusion Forum, Social Justice through Sport & Exercise Psychology Conference, Gustavus Women in Leadership, Wisconsin Track Coaches Association women4women, Japanese Women Coaches Academy, Steamboat Winter Sports Club and the NCAA Convention.

In September, to kick off our 25th Anniversary celebration, we released the 2018 Tucker Center Research Report, Developing Physically Active Girls: A Multidisciplinary Evidence-based Approach, a 10-year update of our highly popular previous report. The report highlights and distills the most current research pertaining to girls and physical activity, has 11 expansive chapters written by leading scholars across multiple academic disciplines, and is a best-practices model for stakeholders.

To read and download all our reports, visit the reports website at

About the Lecture

Scholars and advocates of women’s sports have long documented a troubling and unintended consequence of Title IX. In sharp contrast to the unprecedented gains in participation rates, the number of women occupying key leadership positions—particularly as head coach—has dramatically declined over the last four decades. At the intercollegiate level alone, the percentage of female head coaches has gone from over 90% in the early 1970s to 43% currently. Though women have made significant inroads into upper management across a variety of professional careers, traditional beliefs and stereotypes about women’s leadership capacities in sports remain firmly entrenched in one of the most powerful institutions in our nation.

Research indicates that having women as head coaches matters. Young women need strong and confident same-sex role models who enhance their own self-esteem, and make it more likely that they will go into the coaching profession. The U of M has a proud history of employing women in leadership roles. What can we learn from recent hires in the women’s basketball program, and are there specific strategies we can use nationwide to reverse the current underrepresentation of female coaches? This panel will address these and other critical questions as we explore the challenges and opportunities associated with being a head coach in Division I college athletics.

About the Panelists

Lindsay Whalen is the new head women’s basketball coach at her alma mater, the U of M. A native of Hutchinson, MN, Whalen was an All-Big Ten selection and Academic All-Big Ten honoree during her playing career at Minnesota. She led the Gophers to their only Final Four in the program’s history. She retired from the WNBA in 2018 with one of the most successful careers in league history: She is the all-time leading winner with over 300 victories during a 15-year career. As a Minnesota Lynx, Whalen won four WNBA championships and was named All-WNBA five times. Whalen also captured two Summer Olympic Gold medals as a member of the U.S. women’s basketball team.

Kelly Roysland, a native of Fosston, MN, was a four-year letter winner at the U of M and a member of the Gopher’s Final Four run in 2004. She served as team captain in her final year. A highly gifted athlete, Roylsand was a member of the U of M’s volleyball team in 2007. After her playing career, she served as an assistant coach at Minnesota from 2010-14 and was recently hired in the same capacity at the U of M where she will be a key member of Whalen’s staff. Roysland was the head women’s basketball coach at Macalester College for the past four seasons. In 2016-17, her team recorded its highest win total at the school in five years. Roysland received her Master’s degree in Exercise Science from the School of Kinesiology in 2009.

Danielle O’Banion was a standout student-athlete for the Boston College women’s basketball program from 1997-2001. She earned BIG EAST Conference Academic All-Star recognition during her playing career. O’Banion was hired as assistant coach at Harvard University where she helped guide the Crimson to a 22-6 overall record, an Ivy League title and an NCAA Tournament appearance. O’Banion was a member of the Gopher’s basketball coaching staff during their historic season which ended in a Final 4 appearance. She returns to Minnesota as an assistant coach heading into the new season. Prior to her return, O’Banion served as associate head coach at the University of Memphis and spent four seasons as Kent State’s head coach. In 2016, she received the Pat Summitt Most Courageous Award from the U.S. Basketball Writers Association for her fight against cancer.

Joel Maturi served as the U of M’s athletic director from 2002-12. Prior to his position at Minnesota, Maturi was the AD at the University of Denver and Miami University. A graduate of the University of Notre Dame, Maturi was associate AD at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. His coaching and administrative career culminated in his induction into the Wisconsin Basketball Hall of Fame. At the U of M, Maturi was instrumental in securing funding for an on-campus football stadium. He retired as Gopher AD in 2012 and currently serves as a member of the NCAA Infractions Committee.