By Kristen Leigh Porter
The legacy of the 2011 NCAA Women’s Final Four on the Indianapolis community was on display Wednesday at a news conference at the NCAA Hall of Champions.
The impact of programs implemented by the NCAA and Indiana Host Committee will be felt long after the games played at Conseco Fieldhouse April 3 and 5.
“It’s really easy to celebrate women’s basketball because of what our women do on the floor and what they do in the classroom and what they do in the community,” NCAA Vice President of Division I Women’s Basketball Sue Donohoe told the audience. “And because women’s basketball is so tied into their communities throughout the country, it’s really important to us as the NCAA to ensure that we tie our event into the community.
“…I knew that if we came out of this year’s Women’s Final Four and we did not leave a footprint, something that could be sustained in this community – our home community – then we’ve not done our job as the NCAA.”
Marcie Ahern, managing director of the Indiana Sports Corp. and executive director of the Indiana Host Committee, said it took 18 months of planning and vision for all the pieces to come together. She recognized the contributions of those who made it possible.
To read detailed descriptions of each community outreach program, read the press release here.
The largest monetary amount was a $100,000 research grant awarded by the Kay Yow Cancer Fund to Chunyan He, Sc.D., assistant professor of public health at the Indiana University School of Medicine and a researcher at the Indiana University Melvin and Bren Simon Cancer Center. About 1,300 runners and walkers also took part in the 4Kay Run at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, raising $30,000 for the fund.
But the $3,822.53 raised to benefit the efforts of Girls Inc. of Greater Indianapolis through the Stop. Shoot. Give. Program was equally appreciated by Patricia A. Wachtel, the organization’s president and chief executive officer.
“This experience has been completely wonderful for Girls Inc. and for the girls that we serve both because of the public relations exposure provided for us to get our message about girl empowerment out into the community and also for the wonderful financial support from the Stop. Shoot. Give. Program,” she said. “And frankly, the opportunity for our girls through Super Saturday for Super Girls to meet the women athletes and coaches who are heroines to them provided them with inspiration and hope and role models.”
Sue Donohoe, NCAA vice president of Division I women's basketball, shows off a mural from Middle School Madness.
Approximately 30,000 Indianapolis-area middle school and elementary children and schools were impacted through Circle City Dribble, NCAA Junior Journalism Workshop, NCAA Middle School Madness, NCAA Pinnacle of Fitness, POWERADE NCAA Youth Clinics, Stop. Shoot. Give., equipment donations through Wilson Sporting Goods Co. and additional Indiana Host Committee initiatives.
Nearly 6,000 students participated in the Middle School Madness program tying women’s basketball with educational initiatives and essay and mural contests. Themes of the power of youth and making a difference in the community were evident in the creations on display at the news conference.
Jeremy Manning, department head for physical education and health at Paul Hadley Middle School in the Indianapolis suburb of Mooresville, said the program was a great way to link his students with the NCAA Women’s Final Four.
“The opportunities they provided across curriculums…it wasn’t just about athletics and fitness but all the lessons that they did with not just English and the essays, but the art murals, science and math,” he said. “I thought it just brought our educational goals together with the NCAA goals, I thought it meshed really well.”
The NCAA's Sue Donohoe poses with Girls Incorporated of Greater Indianapolis President and CEO Patricia A. Wachtel.
Twenty seventh- and eighth-grade girls from the Indianapolis Public Schools also participated in the one-day NCAA Junior Journalism Workshop, learning the craft from female teachers and local and national media professionals. After covering the basics of journalism, the girls were assigned topics such as academic excellence, community service, time management and work ethic, all essential life skills of a well-rounded NCAA student-athlete. Participants interviewed student-athletes and coaches about the topics during team press conferences and locker room access periods and wrote stories that were posted on NCAA.org.
“I thought the program was a perfect opportunity for young girls to meet role models,” said Franklin College’s Diana Hadley, executive director of the Indiana High School Press Association and an instructor at the event. “It was just so exciting to see them at the press conference reacting to where they were and the fact that (the student-athletes) were there, too. To get to talk to the girls one-on-one I think they’ll remember for the rest of their lives.”
The 2012 NCAA Women’s Final Four will be played April 1 and 3, 2012, in Denver at the Pepsi Center.