Women's Sports in Zorn Arena 1980-Present
In the 1980s one of the goals of UW- Eau Claire was to introduce competitive sports for female students. It was during this time that UW- Eau Claire proposed for women’s sports to join the NAIA which occurred in 1982-1983. From 1969 women’s sports transformed from one sport (gymnastics) with sixteen players to twelve sports with three hundred and fifty players. Today, women’s sports consist of gymnastics, swimming and diving, tennis, volleyball, basketball, outdoor and indoor track and field, cross country, softball, soccer, golf, and hockey. Overall, UW- Eau Claire women’s sports have won seventy conference titles and six national championships.
One of the reasons why the women’s basketball program has been so successful throughout its existence is the consistent leadership provided by the top facilitators. For example, in its fifty years of history the women’s basketball program has only had four coaches. Sandy Schumacher was the first coach for women’s basketball and focused on creating a scene of teamwork.
“What was most pleasing to me was the teamwork that developed on and off the court. The women get along well and would help each other in practices and game situations. Having to rely on different people made the team gel.”
- Sandy Schumacher, Periscope 1982
Lisa Stone continued Sandy Schumacher’s team building approach by promoting team unity. Tonja Englund, the current basketball coach, is on a roll with over twenty years' experience, four WIAC Championships and five NCAA tournament appearances. As of 2022 Tonja Englund's record is 376-212, a winning percentage of .632! Englund's almost 400 wins puts her in the top five most wins in WIAC history!
"I was blessed to be part of four very successful years of Blugold Women's Basketball. My favorite memory was running out to a packed Zorn Arena and playing in the Final Four during my junior year. I loved how much the community supported us, despite being a women's team. Not all women's teams at UWEC or even around the conference were blessed enough to have this kind of support, because the men's teams typically got it. As much as we needed and appreciated the support from the community, I think the community needed us too. Our team gave the community something special to come together for. However, our success and these amazing experiences were only made possible because of the players and coaches who came before us. It was because of their struggles, sacrifices, and hard work in the early years of women's athletics that provided my generation of players opportunities that we saw as commonplace and took for granted."
- Arlene Meinholz Beardsly, Women's 50th Anniversary: Basketball - Eau Claire
Women’s varsity sports have over fifty years of history at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. They started with being limited to only recreational activities, but the implementation and compliance with Title IX kick started the steps toward creating gender equity and equal opportunities in both the employment, education, and athletic fields.