St. Clair County Community College will pay tribute to trailblazing women athletes and present-day game-changers during Women’s History Month as it hosts the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Division II Women’s Basketball National Championship March 21-25.
The championship tournament will bring 16 of the best teams in the nation—from Arizona to New York—to the Blue Water Area to compete for a national title at the SC4 Fieldhouse.
To kick off the week, SC4 also will host a panel discussion with New York Times best-selling author Andrew Maraniss at noon on Tuesday, March 21, in SC4’s Fine Arts Theatre. The discussion will highlight his latest book, “Inaugural Ballers,” an inspirational true story of the first U.S. Women’s Olympic Basketball team and their unlikely rise to the top.
Present for the panel discussion will be Juliene Brazinski Simpson, Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame member and Team USA co-captain, and Carolyn Bush Roddy, a two-time NJCAA All-American, Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame member and Team USA member prior to the Olympics.
“I’m thrilled to return to SC4 for the NJCAA championships along with two legendary figures in the history of women’s basketball,” Maraniss said. “I know this will be a one-of-a-kind opportunity for members of the championship teams to gain inspiration from Juliene Simpson and Carolyn Bush Roddy, and a chance for Juliene and Carolyn to engage with a new generation of student-athletes. For me as an author, I’m grateful to share the story of the first U.S. women’s Olympic basketball team and talk about the challenges those women overcame. Every generation works for progress and passes the baton to the next. What a great thing SC4 is doing to help speed that exchange along.”
Brazinski Simpson and Bush Roddy also will help open the tournament with a ceremonial tip-off before the first game.
“It is an honor to be invited to the NJCAA Championship,” Brazinski Simpson said. “I am excited to watch what is certain to be an amazing and competitive tournament. As a former junior college coach, I look forward to meeting the players and coaches and sharing my story. As an Olympic athlete, I look forward to sharing the message that if you Dream, Plan, Work and Believe, all things are possible both on and off the court. As we celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Title IX, I look forward to sharing my experience as a female athlete competing in the 60s and 70s.”
“I am both thrilled and so excited to have been invited to be a part of the NJCAA Championship Tournament at St. Clair County Community College,” said Bush Roddy. “How great is this opportunity to be able to share some of my experiences as a player at the junior college level, championship team level, as well as a professional level. It is a privilege and honor to take part in witnessing a new generation of female student athletes display their extraordinary talents and commitment to women’s basketball.”
Added Dale Vos, SC4 director of athletics, “This is a great opportunity for visitors to see some incredible basketball, meet a New York Times best-selling author and hear from trailblazing women athletes about their experiences helping to pave the way for women in sports. We look forward to another very successful tournament week and to again crowning a National Champion at the SC4 Fieldhouse.”
SC4 hosted the Championship last year, which saw the Kirkwood Community College Eagles from Iowa capture its eighth NJCAA Division II Women’s Basketball Championship title.
“The NJCAA is very excited to return to SC4 for the Division II Women’s Basketball Championship,” said Dr. Christopher J. Parker, NJCAA executive director. “We know SC4 provides the highest quality tournament for all participating student-athletes, coaches, administrators and fans.”
The event also makes a substantial positive impact to the local community, bringing in approximately $250,000 each year. “This is a big deal to host 16 teams and their fans in St. Clair County for a week in March,” said Marci Fogal, president of the Blue Water Area Convention and Visitors Bureau. “We are excited to partner again with SC4 and the NJCAA to host this great event. As the spring weather arrives, it will be wonderful to have people here from throughout the U.S. enjoying our downtown and beautiful waterfront.”
The panel discussion is free and open to the public, though registration is requested. A complete tournament game schedule will be available on the NJCAA website at njcaa.org/championships/sports/wbkb/div2. The double–elimination tourney begins at the SC4 Fieldhouse on Tuesday, March 21. The championship game will be held on Saturday, March 25. Visit sc4skippers.com/fanzone/ticketing for tickets.
Select photos shown from Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame.