Girls find opportunities aplenty over league’s history

| April 25, 2013 | 0 Comments
Head Coach Ruth Sinn talks to her players on the sideline during a MIAC basketball game against Augsburg College on January 5, 2013, at Schoenecker Arena in the Anderson Athletic and Recreation Complex. St. Thomas won the game 78-55. Photo courtesy of the University of St. Thomas

Head Coach Ruth Sinn talks to her players on the sideline during a MIAC basketball game against Augsburg College on January 5, 2013, at Schoenecker Arena in the Anderson Athletic and Recreation Complex. St. Thomas won the game 78-55. Photo courtesy of the University of St. Thomas

Ruth Opatz Sinn has had a  stellar career in girls and women’s basketball. She played for the University of St. Thomas  and eventually was inducted into the university’s Hall of Fame. In 2005, she became the head coach of the women’s team, and has been named the MIAC Coach of the Year twice.

But it took a quick move by the CAA for her to get involved in the sport at all. As a student at St. Peter School in North St. Paul, she was a cheerleader. But in the seventh grade she was cut from the squad that cheered for boys basketball. She was devastated and needed to fill the winter sports season with another activity.

It was 1975, and St. Peter’s didn’t offer basketball for girls. Sinn’s mom took the situation into her own hands. “She petitioned the Catholic Athletic Association to start a girls’ basketball team at St. Peter’s. She found a coach — a dad from the neighborhood — and we played,” Sinn said. “And I loved basketball.”

More than athletics

The CAA has been giving girls the opportunity to participate in athletics since 1948.

Talking about co-founder John Hajlo on the 25th anniversary of the organization in an editorial in the Oct. 31, 1973 St. Paul Dispatch, Oliver Towne had this to say: “Much of John’s success has been because he understood, 25 years ago, that this is a woman’s as much as a man’s world and that in athletics, women are as apt and physically equal to men as in any job, profession or career.”

“I think that athletics should be about the experience — yes, the wins and the losses — but more than that it’s the person you become in the process,” said Sinn. “I give the CAA a lot of credit for getting out there and getting girls involved so that they could have that opportunity to learn confidence, to learn leadership, to learn assertiveness, to learn dedication and commitment.”

“The CAA continues to be a vital part of the Catholic school experience,” said Midge Hernandez, the first female president of the CAA board of directors and current advisory board member. “It includes everyone and teaches young people how to work with each other.”

There are currently hundreds of girls participating in CAA sports programs, including volleyball (100 teams) and girls basketball (90 teams).

“Girls have come a long way in athletics and the list keeps getting longer of those who go on to play in high school and college,” Hernandez said. “Boys and girls who participate in the CAA have friendships and memories that will last a lifetime.”
CAA still plays an important role for girls today.

“It’s an opportunity to bring young ladies together in a different setting,” Sinn said. “It’s an educational setting, but it’s a different setting than the classroom. They can be who they are and they can experience that growth and that development. I think it’s huge.”

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Category: Catholic Athletic Association