DII, DIII teams ready to compete for national titles, honor title IX at Women’s Final Four
Get ready to add another chapter to the history books.
As part of the NCAA’s 50th anniversary of Title IX, the NCAA Division II and III national championships will be decided at the Women’s Final Four venue for the second time in NCAA women’s basketball’s 41 years of existence.
In Division II, Ashland is looking to win its third title in 11 years and Minnesota Duluth is aiming for its first women’s basketball title.
In Division III, Christopher Newport and Transylvania are both competing for their school’s first women’s basketball championship and an undefeated season. Christopher Newport has a unique opportunity to become the first Division III school to win both the women’s and men’s basketball championships in the same season after the men’s team recorded a 74-72 victory against Mount Union on March 18.
In the space of just over 24 hours, three women’s basketball champions are crowned in Dallas. All races will take place at the American Airlines Center at the following times:
- 11 a.m. Central Time April 1: Division III Championship Christopher Newport (31-0) vs. Transylvania (32-0), broadcast on CBS Sports Network.
- 2:30 PM Central Time April 1: Division II Championship Ashland (36-0) vs. Minnesota Duluth (32-3), broadcast on CBS Sports Network.
- 2:30 p.m. Central Time April 2: Iowa Division I Championship winner vs. South Carolina/Notre Dame takes on the winner of LSU vs. Virginia Tech/Ohio State, broadcast on ABC.
“This is the ultimate celebration for women’s basketball, and to be a part of it on the 50th anniversary of Title IX is something very special that myself and all of our coaches and players will never forget in our lifetime,” said head coach Christopher Newport. Bill Broderick.
Minnesota Duluth’s Brooke Olson, Division II’s Player of the Year, specifically remembered how excited she was about the sport when this joint event was announced three years ago.
“It’s going to be so, so fun to be a part of it now,” said Olson. “We are delighted to be here. We’ve been talking about this since my freshman year.’
Transylvania senior Dasia Thornton added: “We are excited to play on the biggest stage and combine our national championship games with the other divisions. A lot of people have fought for our right to play and compete, and it seems like a great idea to merging all divisions. way to celebrate Title IX.”
The magnitude and emotions of the moment were not lost on Ashland senior forward Annie Roshak.
“This team is just so special,” said Roshak. “It’s great to have another week and a half with them, and I’m so excited. We’re one game away from doing what I think a lot of us have dreamed of doing.”
Divisions II and III have a short break between their semifinals and title matches. For Division III, the waiting time between matches is two weeks and Division II has a buffer time of 10 days.
All four coaches talked about the physical and mental benefits of this rest period at the end of a long competitive season for the national championship.
“One of our biggest priorities is to rest and recharge,” said Transylvania coach Juli Fulks. “The past few weekends have been extremely demanding, both mentally and physically, and we want everyone to have a chance to regroup.”
Coaches were also pleased that student-athletes had this time to catch up and try to keep schedules as normal as possible given the circumstances.
The pre-game time in Dallas gives teams plenty of opportunities to enjoy the big stage and soak up the experience. Nerves will be at play, as always, but coaches try to emphasize a business-as-usual approach.
“Sometimes there will be nerves, but on that stage I don’t know how it’s going to feel. I think it’s going to be an incredible experience,” said Minnesota Duluth head coach Mandy Pearson. “We will prepare in exactly the same way and I am really lucky because I have a mature group that is determined to succeed on both sides of the floor.”
Coaches and student-athletes from all participating schools recognize the added significance of these championship games because of their ties to the Title IX Anniversary. Pearson said she is young enough to never have been pushed aside as a woman in sports, but she has respect for all the pioneers who have promoted participation in female sports.
“There are so many amazing women who have gone before us, who have put forth effort, made sacrifices, and done the dirty work so we could have moments like this,” Pearson said. “To be here, it’s quite unique, and I keep looking at the title IX 50th anniversary decal on the basketball. We’ve talked about that a lot.
“To go to the national tournament, incredible. To do it this year makes it really special.”
Ashland coach and former Eagles student-athlete Kari Pickens grew up in a town where women’s basketball was valued, as her high school team won two state championships. But she is aware that this is not the case everywhere and said it is important to recognize what Title IX has meant for women’s sport.
“We were a team where everyone wanted to see us play. The more I talked to other people, I realized this isn’t everyone’s story, and we have a long way to go to close that gap,” said Pickens. “I’m really excited to honor 50 years of Title IX by playing in a national championship game. Hopefully our team and our fans can show people that women’s basketball is something that’s really fun and special.”
Nets are cut, trophies are hoisted and lifelong dreams are realized those first two days of April. A national championship is the goal for all teams traveling to Dallas. At the same time, the lessons of this rewarding journey are eternal.
“As my years as a college athlete come to a close, I realize that the memories I made at this college and with my team will mean a lot more to me than winning a national title,” said Christopher Newport senior Sondra Fan. . “Thinking back to my senior year of high school, when I had plans to go to another university and didn’t want to play basketball at a higher level, I couldn’t even imagine how different my life would have been. Fast forward to now I’m so thankful that Coach Broderick gave me the opportunity to represent this school as a student-athlete. It was always a dream of mine as a kid to play for a national championship title, and now it’s all coming true.”
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