GVSU hosts Women in Sport and Physical Activity Celebration

GVL / Courtesy - GVSU.edu


GVL / Courtesy – GVSU.edu

Robbie Triano

The Grand Valley State athletic department recognized four women GVSU alumni-student athletes who also excelled in their careers in the field of movement science at the fifth annual Women in Sport and Physical Activity Celebration Saturday, Feb. 18 at the Fieldhouse.

GVSU hosts this event to honor those in the GVSU family that have been involved in women’s sports through varsity athletics, club sports or the movement science department. The event first began in 2013, which correlated with the 40th anniversary of Title IX regulations for equality in sports.

Athletic director Keri Becker says the event’s main goal is to highlight past female student-athletes, while also recognizing how being an athlete at GVSU can create a lasting impact for the rest of their lives.

“We want to showcase the success of our GV alumni and show how the Laker difference lasts a lifetime,” Becker said. “For me, sports in American society is unlike anywhere else in the world. It’s a showcase of how these successful Laker athletes used their athletic experience to help them advance in the working world, especially in the field of movement science.”

After receiving nominations and reaching out to various alumni, the Women in Sport and Physical Activity Committee selected four worthy honorees: Dr. Jaida Fitzgerald, Catherine Jones-Rikkers, Kathleen Kinkema, and Molly Mahoney.

Fitzgerald is a 2006 graduate who played basketball and a member of the Laker’s 2006 NCAA Division II women’s basketball national championship team. Today, Fitzgerald is an anesthesiologist at one of the country’s leading pediatric hospitals, Boston’s Children Hospital in Massachusetts.

Jones-Rikkers is a 1985 and 1997 graduate and softball pitcher for the Lakers under coach Pat Baker. After earning a law degree Jones-Rikkers went into private practice and worked in legal services for General Motors. In 1994, Jones-Rikkers returned to GVSU where she is currently an instructor in the Management Department in the Seidman College of Business.

Mahoney is a 2009 graduate who started the first GVSU women’s ice hockey club team in 2007. Today, she serves as the commissioner for the Central Collegiate Women’s Hockey Association, commissioner for the women’s Division I teams that belong to the American Collegiate Hockey Association and as programming/event coordinator for the University of Notre Dame Ice Arena.

The last of the four honorees is Kinkema, a 1979 graduate who was a physical education and recreation major along with participating in basketball, softball and field hockey for the Lakers. Today, Kinkema is now currently the associate vice president for academic affairs at Western State Colorado University.

Associate athletic director and lead organizer of the event Erika Wallace mentioned how the event is one that she has looked forward to since it began in 2013.

“The best part about the event is honoring women whose hard work and dedication in sport at GV has provided them with a solid framework to be successful well beyond their time here,” Wallace said. “Bringing everyone together from different generations and listening to their experiences in sport and physical activity makes for an enjoyable time each year.”

The event was held before the GVSU’s women’s basketball team’s game against Northern Michigan Saturday, Feb. 18. Becker plans it this way to synergize both events in effort to giving more recognition to the honorees.

“Because of the link to athletics, it made sense to do it associated with a Laker game,” Becker said. “We can harness that effort to get people to our events. Its great synergy. It’s an athletic event and people will, and did, appreciate it to make them feel special.”

Proceeds from the reception go towards the Boand & Rowe Endowment for Advancement of Women in Sports & Physical Activity, which is a scholarship benefiting students in physical education, sport leadership, varsity athletics and club sports who will shape the future of women’s sports.