As part of the ongoing Leadership Series events, the Winona Campus welcomed a female groundbreaker in baseball, Ila Borders, to speak on March 8. The event celebrated those who are breaking barriers in women’s athletics, including Dr. Nikki Fennern, Saint Mary’s athletic director, who received the Breaking Barriers Award from the Minnesota Coalition of Women in Athletic Leadership in February.
Legendary for breaking barriers in baseball, Borders shared highlights from her career including numerous baseball milestones at the college and professional levels. She was the first female pitcher to start a men’s professional baseball game, the first woman to receive a baseball scholarship to play men’s collegiate baseball, and the first woman to earn a win in men’s collegiate baseball. She played for the Saint Paul Saints in 1997 and several other minor league professional teams.
Her message to students was to be prepared for opportunities at all times and strive for excellence in everything they do. Borders also emphasized how important it is to stay focused on your goals, even if you struggle with adversity.
Caption: Dr. Nikki Fennern and Ila Borders at the Breaking Barriers event.