Grand Forks, N.D. - Two-sport student-athlete. Graduate. Hall of Fame inductee. Professor. Gail Ingwalson stepped foot on campus in 1976 as a freshman and since then she continued to make an impact at the University of North Dakota.
A native of Buxton, N.D., Gail made her way to UND to play basketball and softball and to receive a degree in education. Who would have known that she would become a tri-captain on the basketball team her senior year, and later in 2011 become the first Grand Forks-based woman to be inducted into the North Dakota Softball Hall of Fame.
This past week, Fightingsioux.com checked in with Gail to ask her a few questions about her time at UND, what she is doing now and her favorite memories as a student-athlete.
Fightingsioux.com: Why did you decide to come to UND?
Gail Ingwalson: I had always hoped to attend UND for my teaching degree and to play basketball and softball. I didn't initially receive an athletic scholarship from UND so I had to make a decision whether to attend a different college on an athletic scholarship or try to walk-on at UND and obtain the education that I hoped for. After my freshmen year I was granted a scholarship.
FS: Was it hard juggling basketball, softball and school?
GI: I learned a lot about prioritizing, responsibility, time management and how to concentrate on your school work as you maintained your athletic responsibilities. One additional thing I learned was how to persuade your instructors that being a female athlete was an important aspect on our education, just as being a male athlete was.
FS: What did you graduate with and in what year?
GI: In 1980 I earned a Bachelor of Science in Education with a major in physical education, and minors in health and drivers education. I completed my Master of Arts in Counseling in 1990 and my Ph.D. in 1998.
FS: What did you do after graduation?
GI: I began my teaching career in East Grand Forks as an elementary physical education teacher and high school coach. I left after a year to teach (physical education and social studies) and become a head coach (basketball, softball and gymnastics) in Holly, Colo. Three years later I accepted a new position in El Dorado, Kan. I continued to teach there until I decided to apply to be the graduate assistant coach for the UND women's basketball team under head coach Gene Roebuck in 1988. I got the position and was accepted into the UND Department of Counseling program.
After this experience, I accepted a position as a counselor at the Career Counselor Center, where I began to work on my doctorate. I officially began my higher education position after completing my Ph.D. in December 1998 and I have been at UND as an educator for 15 years now. I love what I do. My students are the best and I have a wonderful department to work with.
FS: What was it like attending UND as an undergrad and now working as a professor in the Teaching and Learning Department?
GI: UND is an incredible university and has wonderful athletic programs. This university goes far beyond educating students and shows major concern how our students do during their program of study and supports them as they pursue their careers.
FS: How did being a student-athlete prepare you for life after college?
GI: I have always valued and respected what it has meant to be a "student-athlete". In the 1970s and 80s, women didn't have a lot of opportunities. We had to fight for anything we got. Our practices were at odd times (either early morning or late at night), our access to the facilities were very limited, we received less money for our trips and were limited on where we stayed (if we were allowed to stay). Nothing came easy and I believe I learned what it meant to make it to the next level. The life experience, determination, compassion, empathy and confidence has made me into the person I am today: a dedicated professor who cares deeply about her students and their future careers.
FS: What is your fondest basketball and/or softball memory?
GI: There are so many incredible memories. We had to fight for time on the basketball court and even for games. My senior year was an experimental year with the start of the North Central Conference. It was the first time we had the opportunity to play back-to-back games with the men's basketball team. This didn't go over well with the men's program. One of the first back to back games was against South Dakota State and our game went into three overtimes. Our 50 fans were so excited, but when the several hundred fans arrived early for the start of the men's game, they were slightly perplexed. We tallied a victory against SDSU and went 19-8 my senior year, which was considered a good season back then.
There were crazy trips that I would label "The Firey Thunderbay Trip," where our bus started on fire; "The Grandin Incident," where we were stranded in a bar during a blizzard; "Drake Relays," where we drove a 15-passenger van to Iowa; or "The Montana "Cowboy Hat" Excursion", the first time the women flew to a tournament.
One precise memory is that the UND women's basketball team didn't lose to NDSU for four years (1977-1980).
When it comes to softball we were the first softball team to play in the DakotaDome, where they weren't quite prepared to host a softball game (we played on the basketball court). When the women's fast-pitch softball program was reinstated in 1977, there were an impressive group of 40 women who tried out for the team and looked to restart the historical softball program.
I'm still in contact with several of my teammates and we often laugh about the crazy experiences and wonderful memories that we had as student-athletes back in the "pioneer day."
- Go Sioux -