SVSU Women's Basketball a Springboard to Future Success

SVSU Women's Basketball a Springboard to Future Success

Story courtesy of SVSU Athletics Media Relations

The Saginaw Valley State University women’s basketball program has provided opportunities for females to reach goals far beyond their time on the hardwood. Since the first established women’s basketball team in 1974, Saginaw Valley has produced many females who have taken their experience as a Cardinal to higher levels of success in women’s athletics.   

In 1979, Marsha Reall was named the first female coach in Saginaw Valley State University women’s basketball history.   Her six-year tenure paved the way for female athletics at SVSU.  She gained national attention for Saginaw Valley in her second season by leading the Cardinals to their first ever NAIA National Tournament and GLIAC Championship. 

From 1981-1985, Marsha coached the now recently retired Division I coach, Gail Goestenkors.  Gail began her athletic career as a member of the SVSU women’s basketball program and has transitioned into a nationally recognized and respected head coach at the Division I level.  At age 29, she accepted the position as head coach of the women’s basketball program at Duke University, setting the record as the youngest coach in Division I history.

Coach Goestenkors holds numerous records at both Duke and Texas University.  Her 20-year coaching resume is an inspiration for all females who are reaching for their highest goals and achievements.  The success and recognition of her accomplishments is a reflection of her experience and work ethic she attained as a member of the women’s basketball program at SVSU.

Throughout the history of women’s basketball, Saginaw Valley has established a unique image for Cardinal athletics.  Suzy Merchant spent three seasons as head coach at Saginaw Valley and has since moved her talent to the Division I where she is currently entering her sixth season at Michigan State University. 

During her three-year tenure at SVSU, Merchant had the opportunity to coach numerous females, including Jamie Pewinski.  Pewinski is currently entering her second season as head coach at Saginaw Valley and now has the opportunity to pass on to her players the tradition she once experienced as a Cardinal.

"Saginaw Valley Women's Basketball has had some great coaches in the program and I am excited that I get to be a part of the tradition and follow in their footsteps. I am extremely grateful for the people that have come before me and paved the way to allow me this opportunity to do what I love to do," commented current head coach Jamie Pewinski.  "I have been fortunate to play for and work with some great female coaches and being around sports is all I have ever known!"  

This same tradition holds true for Claudette Charney.  Charney began her athletic career as a member of the 1976 women’s basketball team and would later return as head coach at Saginaw Valley.  She has set numerous records as both student-athlete and head coach of the Cardinals.   Her time spent at Saginaw Valley was a key aspect in setting the foundation for her successful coaching career.

Previous coaches and athletes who have contributed to the success of Saginaw Valley women’s basketball have shown their talents and knowledge of athletics in more ways than just coaching.  After coaching for three seasons at SVSU, Kim Chandler has applied her Cardinal experience differently.  She is currently entering her fifth year as the Director of Athletics at Macalester College and was awarded the National Association of Collegiate Women Athletic Administrators “Administrator of the Year” award in 2009.

“SVSU Athletics is honored to have the privileges of knowing the imprint that all of these successful women’s coaches have made in the world of women’s basketball and intercollegiate athletics,” commented Director of Athletics, Mike Watson.

The passing of Title IX in 1972 has given the women’s basketball program at Saginaw Valley State University the opportunity to provide a foundation for females to excel at all levels in life.   In celebration of the 40th anniversary of Title IX, we would also like to recognize the legacies of previous coaches and athletes who have helped successfully shape the SVSU women’s basketball program.

"It's important to remember a time when that wasn't always the case and teach the female athletes of today how lucky they really are.  Here at SVSU, we have so many examples to use to show our players the success that can be had by taking advantage of the opportunities that so many others fought to give them," added Pewinski  

The six highly successful women highlighted in this article are all former members of the Saginaw Valley women’s basketball family.  Each individual female sets an example of how being a member of the Cardinal tradition has given them the opportunity and inspiration to achieving their highest goals.

Marsha Reall Gail Goestenkors Claudette Charney Suzy Merchant Kim Chandler Jamie Pewinski
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