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Kolpack: Bison Hall of Fame induction of Lynn Dorn was celebration of progress in women's athletics

It was appropriate that Lynn Dorn's enshrinement came on same year of the 50th anniversary of Title IX

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Lynn Dorn greets well-wishers Cory Haverkamp and Pat Weber before her induction into the North Dakota State University Bison Athletic Hall of Fame during ceremonies in the Sanford Health Athletic Complex on Friday, Sept. 30, 2022.
David Samson/The Forum
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It seemed fitting that Lynn Dorn walked to the microphone early Friday afternoon to accept her induction into the Bison Athletic Hall of Fame in the same year Title IX celebrated its 50th anniversary. The former North Dakota State women’s athletic director did her share of pushing for equality.

She thanked everybody who had something to do with her career, which in nine minutes seems impossible, but she did it. She talked about the two most important pieces of federal legislation enacted on behalf of women with the most important being the right to vote.

Title IX was second.

Some of the beneficiaries were in the audience at the Nodak Insurance Basketball Performance Center, with some coming from a long distance to be part of the celebration. And that’s what it was; a celebration of women’s athletics.

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“I think the message is really an appreciation for those who had an influence and direct impact on the women’s program,” Dorn said earlier this week.

Just seeing old photos of NDSU women’s athletics in the 1970s gives a sense of how far the program has come. Ratty-looking uniforms. Hardly anybody in the stands.

“I don’t think they understood the commitment to win quite yet,” Dorn said. “They didn’t believe that we were able to win. It was taking them from being participants to being competitors and that was the biggest transition I saw in the early years.”

Oh, there was still participation going on in later years. The Bison women’s basketball program participated in one of the greatest women’s basketball title runs in NCAA history, winning four national championships in five years in the 1990s.

Many of those games packed the old Bison Sports Arena. Volleyball went from an intramural-looking program to league championship status. Track and field produced Olympians. Golf produced an LPGA player. Getting to that level was no accident and it didn’t come without the proverbial blood, sweat and tears, either.

NDSU needed somebody to push the envelope and they got it from a member of a prominent athletic family. Lynn’s father Tony Dorn, a former staple figure in Thief River Falls, Minn., played professional hockey. Her sister Kaye married Buzz Marvin (yes, the Warroad hockey Marvins) and their grandson, Blake Biondi, was Minnesota’s Mr. Hockey in 2020. Their daughter Jamie is married to Fargo Shanley head football coach Troy Mattern.

“In the Dorn family you just have to win, right? Otherwise don’t play the game,” Lynn said. “If you can’t keep score, don’t play the game.”

Make no mistake, today was not a day to declare victory with Title IX, there’s still work to be done. The Women’s Sports Foundation has a theme going this year called “New school year, same fight.”

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But it was a day to celebrate progress.

“The acceleration in such a short period of time is amazing to me,” Lynn said. “And that’s such a testimony to the outcome of Title IX. It’s a testimony to the federal legislation that enacted educational opportunities for women in their sport. But at NDSU, I really believe that we were well ahead of that. Our pulse was already out there and we understood that women should have opportunities.”

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Lynn Dorn speaks during her induction into the North Dakota State University Bison Athletic Hall of Fame during ceremonies in the Sanford Health Athletic Complex on Friday, Sept. 30, 2022.
David Samson/The Forum
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Jeff would like to dispel the notion he was around when Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press, but he is on his third decade of reporting with Forum Communications. The son of a reporter and an English teacher, and the brother of a reporter, Jeff has worked at the Jamestown Sun, Bismarck Tribune and since 1990 The Forum, where he's covered North Dakota State athletics since 1995.
Jeff has covered all nine of NDSU's Division I FCS national football titles and has written three books: "Horns Up," "North Dakota Tough" and "Covid Kids." He is the radio host of "The Golf Show with Jeff Kolpack" April through August.
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