Becker would touch every area of college athletics over her career: in coaching, compliance at Nebraska, and compliance and academics at the University of Kansas — all while ensuring other small town girls with big dreams have the best opportunities to make them come true.
“One of the most important things to me is that I was able to provide an opportunity for hundreds of girls and women through club programs, through college programs — and that they look back on those opportunities, and they might not remember what the win loss record was. They might not remember the exact details of any game or what their stats were, but what they remembered was they got to play. They got to be a part of something that was bigger than them that helped shape their futures."
A group of former K-State rowers found a special way to honor the sports' pioneer in Manhattan, while helping future Wildcats get on the water: “She passed on to us to have a fire in our belly for rowing and for life."
The Overland Park-native helped lead the Jayhawks to their first NCAA Tournament appearance in 2001. It wasn’t until 20 years after that she learned the full extent of her legacy, when the phone rang from her alma mater.
Rebecca Jensen DiIanni became the first Kansas tennis player to earn All-America status in both singles and doubles in one season. In 1994, she and her doubles partner, Nora Koves, became the first KU tennis players to win a national championship.
In 1976, Cheryl Burnett became the first woman to ever be offered a full-ride athletic scholarship to KU — opening the door to thousands of women who followed. She'd go on to coach Southwest Missouri State to two Final Fours: "Magical. Just magical"
Cheryl Gleason spent 45 years in Kansas as a teacher, coach and administrator. After more than three decades with KSHSAA, she retired in July & will soon be inducted into the Hall of Fame: "If I had it to do all over again, I would not have changed a thing."
After winning 3 state championships at Manhattan High, Deb Richard went on to win a national championship at Florida and six championships on the LPGA Tour. She spent her career using her platform to give back to others.
Taylor Darr became the first woman to ever officiate an MIAA football game this fall. She hopes by knocking down that barrier she’s not the last. “I’m glad that I could take that step and honored that I could."
Fran Martin has spent a career providing opportunities to high school girls in athletics as a coach, official and administrator: “I can’t think of anything that I would have rather done then be able to mold kids, help them to be better young women."
Of the 1,148 registered high school football officials in Kansas, just four identify as women — or 0.3%. “There’s nothing better than going for your dreams and knowing that we’re paving the way in our fields."
An illustrious career at Emporia State led Trish Roberts to the 1976 Olympics. From there, a conversation on a bus with teammate Pat Summitt took her career to Knoxville, where she set nine program records in a single season still standing today.
Washburn graduate Billie Jean Moore became the first coach in women's basketball to win two national championships with two schools. She'd go on to coach the first USA women's basketball team in the Olympics, winning silver in 1976: "When you do those kinds of things, you can dream them. Now as a young female basketball player, I could dream of being an Olympian.”
K-State didn’t have a women’s rifle team in 1960, so Margaret Murdock joined the men’s team — and won two Big Eight titles. She’d then become the first woman to medal in shooting at the Olympics, earning silver in 1976.
Brenda Holaday has seen success at every level — as a player and a coach, in high school and in college. But that's not what she values most in her career: “I felt like sports was that platform that I could make a difference for people in the way that it had been made for me."
In just three seasons, Cindy Stein turned Emporia State women's hoops around from a 12-14 record to a 30-1 run, culminating in a National Championship appearance. They didn’t win — but it set the stage for ESU to become a national powerhouse in the years to come.
Jackie Stiles spent four hours each night in high school working on her shot. It's no surprise she'd go on to break the NCAA D1 scoring record in 2001 — inspiring the next generation of Kansas girls along the way.
In a sport historically dominated by men, Katie Sowers has made a career of firsts. The Hesston, Kansas-native is blazing the trail to make the football field a place for everyone: "We have a long way to go, but I think it’s only going to continue to improve.”
Tracy Bunge first put on a KU uniform in the NCAA's first year sponsoring softball. The First-Team All-American later became the Jayhawks' head coach of 13 years: “I definitely was fighting the fight — and it felt like it was a fight many days.”