Spring Soirée raises money for female athlete scholarships




The eighth annual event to benefit Augustana’s female student-athletes was the Spring Soirée held on Monday, April 15, at the Minnehaha Country Club in Sioux Falls.

The event, formerly known as the Women’s Walk, raises funds for scholarships to benefit Augustana’s eight women’s sports.

“It’s an avenue to give specifically for women,” assistant athletic director Ann Traphagen said. “It’s an avenue to give, thank and recognize each other.”

This year’s theme was “$40,000 for 40 years” in honor of the 40th anniversary of Title IX, a law to assure equality between men and women in academics and athletics. Traphagen said they hope to raise $40,000 at the Spring Soirée, which would be the second highest amount raised for the event.

The money raised will be awarded as eight $1,000 scholarships to female athletes at Augustana, and the remainder of the funds will stay in an endowment for future use. Currently, 182 female athletes participate in eight sports offered at Augustana.

“We wanted to think for future growth… to benefit us 20 years from now,” Traphagen said.

The Spring Soirée lasted around two hours with light hors d’oeuvres, some yard games, door prizes and guest speakers.

Speakers included Sandy Jerstad, who was Augustana’s head softball coach for 27 seasons from 1977-2003 and has the most wins in NCAA Division II softball history. Jerstad shared personal stories of her time at Augustana, including when she was asked to coach. She said it was a wonderful experience being able to be a part of a women’s teams compared to being called a “tomboy” for playing sports when she was growing up.

“Title IX came along and it changed everything,” Jerstad said. “I just want to jump up and down and scream for Title IX and how great it is and what it’s done for women’s athletics.”

Senior Kelsey Bortnem from the women’s golf team, and Jenny Brown, a senior on the softball team, also addressed the crowd.

Brown thanked the donors at the event, pointing out how helpful financial donors are to the community of Augustana athletics.

“When you join Augustana, you join a community larger than the 1,800 promised on the website,” Brown said.

The senior had originally planned to attend a larger, southern  school, but said she was glad she chose Division II and Augustana. “The genuine concern for the athletes of Augustana… reminds me I have a great Augie family to return to.”

Bortnem shared her emotional story of needing a bone marrow transplant the spring of 2011. After the transplant, she was able to return as a part-time student that fall and as a full-time student the following spring, including the ability to play on the golf team again.

“I just wanted to get back out there, be with my team, and get back to the sport I love,” Bortnem said.

In addition to the Spring Soirée, there is a coordinating Viking 5K Fun Run to help raise additional funds. The run will be at 7:30 a.m., Saturday, April 27, beginning at the Elmen Center. Registration information can be found on the Go Augie website.

Traphagen said the Spring Soirée and Viking 5K Fun Run are important events for Augustana’s female athletes and she feels all student-athletes are deserving of a scholarship.

“We really felt we needed to keep the tradition going because [it’s for] young females to have a platform.”