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Janie Harris | | February 1, 2017

14 exceptional female athletes excelling in winter sports

Happy National Girls and Women in Sports Day (NGWSD)! Since 1987, the day has stood as a way to bring attention to the accomplishments and positive influence of female athletes.

NGWSD was created to memorialize Flo Hyman, one of the most influential volleyball players in history. From 1974 to 1976, Hyman was a three-time letter-winner at the University of Houston, going on to win a silver medal in 1976 while representing the U.S. National Team in the Olympics. She died of Marfan’s Syndrome in 1986.

Thirty years after Hyman’s death and the creation of NGWSD, hundreds of thousands of girls and women participate in sports, a large portion of them student-athletes in colleges and universities across the country.

In honor of the day, here are some of the best and brightest women’s participating in winter sports right now:


Kelsey Plum | Washington

She’s broken record after record with the Huskies and has been awarded a multitude of accolades. The all-time Pac-12 scoring leader, this senior guard became the first Pac-12 basketball player, man or woman, to score 3,000 career points.

Katie Lou Samuelson | UConn

Only in her sophomore year with the Huskies, Samuelson has managed to score at least 12 points in every game this season, averaging 21.55 points per game. She already matched Maya Moore’s record for most points in a three-game stretch and looks to break plenty more during her career at UConn.

Brionna Jones | Maryland

Coming from a family of basketball players, Jones is making 69.2 percent of her shots this season, second in the nation. Now in her senior year, she leads the Big Ten in double-doubles, averaging 19.36 points and 10.1 rebounds per game.

Alaina Coates | South Carolina

Her name is scattered throughout the Gamecock record books, from defensive rebounds in a career to double-doubles in a career. In this season alone, the 6-foot-4 senior posted 12 double-doubles within 20 games. She has 53 in her career.

Ice Hockey

Ann-Renee Desbiens | Wisconsin

Desbiens set the NCAA record for most career shutouts (50) in all of college hockey, men or women, the record for consecutive shutout minutes (543:53) and the NCAA single-season shutout record (21). The senior netminder leads the nation this year in goals against average (0.725), save percentage (0.958) and shutouts (11).

Lara Stalder | Minnesota Duluth

Third in the nation in scoring (1.65 points a game), Stalder has recorded at least one point in her last seven games, turning in multiple-point games in six of those seven. The senior forward recently set a record for the fastest goal scored in a game, posting a point within the first eight seconds of the game.

Karlie Lund | Princeton

Lund, a sophomore, is leading the Tigers’ offense with 19 goals this season, leading the nation in goals per game (0.83). The Minnesota native is on a five-game scoring streak.

Kelly Pannek | Minnesota

Pannek leads the NCAA in points per game (1.89), tallying 14 goals and 37 assists this season. The junior has stepped up as a major offensive leader for the Gophers.


Maggie Nichols | Oklahoma

Nichols, a freshman with the Sooners, is the first gymnast in the history of the Big 12 to earn both the Gymnast and Newcomer of the Week awards in the same week. In national rankings, she currently holds the top spot for vault, bars, beam and all-around as well as sharing first on the floor.

MyKayla Skinner | Utah

For three straight weeks, this freshman won Pac-12 Gymnast of the Week and Pac-12 Freshman of the Week honors and is the only one in Pac-12 history to win both awards in the same week multiple times. In her first three meets as a Ute, she won 13 of 15 possible individual titles.

Indoor Track and Field

Hannah Cunliffe | Oregon

The 2016 Pac-12 Women’s Track and Field Athlete of the Year recently raced to the top of the NCAA after winning the 60 meter at the Columbia East-West Challenge just .01 seconds off her own record. She is a two-time All-American.

Mikiah Brisco | LSU

This six-time All-American was named the 2016 SEC Women’s Indoor Runner of the Year. Most recently, she finished first in the 60 meter at the Razorback Invitational.

Swimming and Diving

Abbey Weitzeil | California

At the 2016 Olympic games, she won a gold medal in the 400m medley relay and a silver medal in the 400m free relay. As a freshman at Cal, she most recently won the 50-yard freestyle and 100-yard breaststroke in a dual-meet victory over UCLA.

Katie Ledecky | Stanford

After becoming a five-time Olympic gold medalist and a world-record holder, Ledecky started her career as a collegiate swimmer. She is undefeated as a Cardinal in the 100 free, 500 free, 1000 free and 1650 free on top of setting multiple records for Stanford and the NCAA. 

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