Unaware that four-plus hours and 16 innings of nerve-racking softball would follow, the 617 fans who paid to watch Saturday’s marathon between Minnesota and Iowa actually got even more for their dollar.
It had to wait until the final homestand of the season, but the Gophers’ new stadium was officially dedicated before the game.
Minnesota Softball Stadium, meet the Jane Sage Cowles Stadium.
Pregame festivities included kids activities next to the stadium and souvenir wooden bats to all in attendance. The Twin Cities Skydivers dropped by to throw the ceremonial first pitch.
“This is a great occasion, not only because we’re opening Jane Sage Cowles stadium, but because this is my first time on a pitcher’s mound,” said University President Mark Yudof. “I like it out here. I lack the talent, but I have the eligibility.”
Among the others who officially opened the new field were women’s athletics director Chris Voelz, co-coaches Lisa Bernstein and Julie Standering, co-captains Michelle Bennett and Dana Ballard and the Cowles family.
Sage was a softball player at Utah State and one of the founders of the Women’s Professional Softball League four years ago.
Jane Cowles is the daughter of John and Sage. The Cowles family has been actively involved in women’s athletics at Minnesota for several years. John was the publisher of the Star Tribune several years back.
The Cowles have also been supporters of Title IX in athletics. They believe Jane Sage Cowles Stadium is also one of many steps towards gender equity.
“Only when men fully understand and appreciate what women are capable of doing and being, will both enjoy the companionship of the other,” said John Cowles. “Fifty years from now I believe Title IX may rank along with The Civil Rights act of 1964 as landmarks in our country’s evolution.”
Said Jane: “I just know these festivities extend far beyond our reach.”
Mark Heller covers softball and welcomes comments at [email protected]