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Celebration highlights women in sports

  • From left are Joan Boand, Donna Lopiano and Patti Rowe.
  • Donna Lopiano
  • Alumni who attended the Celebration of Women in Sport and Physical Activity.

Posted on February 23, 2013

Joan Boand recalled the time when she took Grand Valley's volleyball team to Michigan State University to play at Jenison Fieldhouse.

It was the first time women were allowed to play there.

Patti Rowe told the audience how she was often picked last for sports team as a young girl, yet continued on a stellar 35-year career, teaching future teachers how to lead physical education classes.

Both women were honored February 23 at the Celebration of Women in Sport and Physical Activity, an event that launched an endowment fund named for Boand and Rowe that will support professional development opportunities for students.

The keynote speaker was Donna Lopiano, former chief executive officer of the Women's Sports Foundation, who also spoke later at the Leadership Summit in the Kirkhof Center.

Lopiano told the standing-room-only audience they need to continue moving toward gender equality in sports. It can be as simple as paying it forward, she said, by buying young girls baseball mitts and bats, or playing catch with a neighborhood child.

"Are we giving girls the passion for sports?" Lopiano said. "We need to pledge to make a special effort to encourage girls."

Boand, professor emeritus of physical education, joined Grand Valley’s faculty in 1966. She coached many women’s sports and later served in athletic administration.

Rowe, professor of movement science, joined Grand Valley in 1984 and is well-known in Michigan for advancing its K-12 physical education curriculum.

For more on the endowment, visit

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