MSU President's Newspaper Column

February 5, 2022

Celebration of Female Athletes overflows with Comet pride

We had the opportunity to welcome a number of alumni and former Mayville State University student-athletes “home” to Mayville State the weekend of Jan. 28 and 29. The Celebration of Female Athletes provided for some wonderful recognition, along with chances to reminisce and renew acquaintances. I was honored and humbled to be among the exceptional members of the Mayville State family who joined in the celebration.

A highlight of the celebration was the induction of three outstanding former Mayville State student-athletes into the Mayville State University Athletic Hall of Fame. Laura Big Crow, who played women’s basketball for the Comets from 2006 to 2008; Heidi Brunko, who played volleyball, women’s basketball, and softball from 1998 to 2001; and Jennifer Ostapowich, who was a standout softball pitcher and also played first base as a Comet from 1995 to 1999; were honored at a brunch event on the morning of Jan. 29.

When asked about what they value most about Mayville State University, we hear over and over again from our current students about their appreciation for the members of the community. This admiration and gratefulness is no doubt genuine, because we hear it time and time again from alumni as well. That sentiment came through loud and clear as the new Athletic Hall of Fame inductees gave their acceptance remarks at the brunch.

I want the members of the Mayville-Portland and greater Traill County community and people from areas beyond to know how very important you are to the success of Mayville State University and our students. Your support, whether it be financial or the simple acts of kindness you show students by attending events, greeting students when you see them at the local businesses, providing home-cooked meals and goodies, and more, is impactful.

We cannot thank you enough for the positive difference you are making right here. That impact has a ripple effect as the life experiences our students have while at Mayville State become a part of who they are and go with them wherever they choose to establish their lives and their careers. This is a pretty powerful thing, something for which we can all be very Comet Proud.

Another highpoint of the weekend for me and for many others was the captivating speech Donna Mark gave at the Hall of Fame Brunch.

Donna Ludwig Mark is a 1970 Mayville State graduate. She taught high school physical education for more than 30 years. She spent an equal amount of time coaching girls’ track and field and basketball. Donna was inducted into the Minnesota High School Coaches Basketball Hall of Fame in 1995, the Mayville State University Athletic Hall of Fame in 1989, the St. Cloud Apollo Athletic Hall of Fame in 2004, and the Mayville State University Athletic Coaches Hall of Fame in October of 2010. Donna joined the faculty at Mayville State University in 2004 and served as chair of the Division of Health, Physical Education, and Recreation. She retired in 2016.

Donna Mark was trailblazer who paved the way for opportunities for girls and women in athletics. It was fascinating to hear her tell of her experiences and the valiant effort she put forth on behalf of women everywhere. The road was not easy, but Donna was tenacious and determined and her work has paid off for so many women and girls.

Donna and others like her had to fight hard for much of what we take for granted now in the world of sports for females. My heart swelled with pride and gratitude as I thought about how this incredible woman who grew up in Portland, N.D. and graduated from Mayville State University has had such a positive impact in the world. We owe a debt of gratitude to Donna and other forerunners in the area of athletics for women who put themselves on the line so that others could have a better life.

Click here to see Donna's speech.

The Celebration of Female Athletes will be remembered by those who participated as an important moment in university history as it caused us to pause and reflect on the members of our Mayville State family, each with his or her own unique contributions, and the aspects of personal service that make Mayville State special. We hold dear all Mayville State students - past, present, and future - who represent Mayville State University well in the classroom, on the courts and playing fields, and in their own little corners of the world.