Alum and women's sports pioneer Linda Wells honored
Over 100 friends, admiring fans, and dignitaries gathered Sept. 27 on a brilliant autumn afternoon to watch Linda Wells, kinesiology master's graduate, receive the University's Outstanding Achievement Award.
The highest non-academic honor presented to a University of Minnesota graduate, the award acknowledged Wells' groundbreaking accomplishments in women's intercollegiate sports. In 1974, at the age of 21, she became the University's first full-time head coach in three women's sports: basketball, softball, and volleyball. From the start, she was a passionate advocate who challenged athletic directors and school presidents to get what she needed for her teams. She coached 15 years at the U before taking over the women's softball program at Arizona State University. She has coached at the international level, overseeing Olympic softball teams in the Athens (2004) and Beijing (2008) Olympics, played professional softball, and founded her own business, Wells Sports Corporation, which specializes in coaching clinics, speaking engagements, and products and services for youth sports.
Wells retired in 2005 with a collegiate coaching overall winning record of 884-653, numerous conference championships, All-American awards, and an array of medals and national tournament berths. Over the course of her career, Wells empowered countless girls and women through her willingness to challenge the status quo.
Speakers at the ceremony included Regina Sullivan, senior associate athletics director, Kathryn F. Brown, vice president and chief of staff in the President's Office, Jean K. Quam, dean of the College of Education and Human Development, Mary Jo Kane, director of the School of Kinesiology, and Deborah Wilson, Ramsey County judge. Rayla Allison, lecturer in the School of Kinesiology and Wells's teammate when both played for the women's professional softball team, the Chicago Ravens, told the crowd, "Lots of people talk about injustice. The difference is that Linda time and again worked courageously--even when it took a personal and professional toll--to correct it."
Linda Wells's name will be engraved on the Alumni Wall of Honor adjacent to the McNamara Alumni Center.