MCAC Kicks Off Week of Honors for National Girls & Women in Sport Day

MCAC Kicks Off Week of Honors for National Girls & Women in Sport Day

Winona, MN- 

Wednesday, February 5, marks National Girls and Women in Sport Day across the United States and the Minnesota College Athletic Conference (MCAC) seeks to support this important event. 

With 24 member colleges forming the ranks of the MCAC, the league is recognizing standouts from each college to celebrate the work that has been done in women's sports and the opportunities to improve in the months and years ahead.  Beginning Monday, February 3, the MCAC will highlight eight campus leaders per day in an effort to draw attention to student-athletes, coaches and administrators advancing women in NJCAA sports environments. 

This year will mark the 34th edition of the annual National Girls & Women in Sports Day event, designed to provide communities, schools and programs a national platform and voice in celebrating the extraordinary achievements of women and girls in sports. 

The signature event for this celebration in Minnesota is the National Girls and Women in Sport Day Awards ceremony beginning at noon at the Minnesota History Center Wednesday, February 5. This important presentation is led by the Minnesota Coalition of Women in Athletic Leadership and features athletes, coaches, sport administrators, journalists and others from around the state who have had a major positive impact on women and girls in sport.

For more on the Minnesota event, go to:

The Minnesota College Athletic Conference includes over 24 NJCAA-affiliated colleges as a part of the Conference, allowing the MCAC to be one of the largest in the country in terms of the number of schools and geographic footprint.  The MCAC is proud to include over 30 women in head coaching and sport administration roles, hundreds of female student-athletes and dozens of women's teams taking to the hardwood, fields, trap houses, ball diamonds and other competition venues. 

Monday, February 3: Rochester Community & Technical College; North Dakota State College of Science; Vermilion Community College; Central Lakes College; Anoka-Ramsey Community College; Western Technical College; Alexandria Technical & Community College; Hibbing Community College.


Our apologies to all great student-athletes, coaches and administrators not specifically mentioned in this list. Please accept our picks as a representation of the strong culture of women in sport who are making a difference in our MCAC communities.

Amber Zitzow

Volleyball Coach

Amber Zitzow recently completed her eighth season at the helm of Yellowjacket Volleyball.

Named the 2015 Heidi Hutchinson Coach-of-the-Year, the 2015 Minnesota College Athletic Conference Coach of the Year, and a 2015 Rochester Area Sports Commission Banquet Finalist, Zitzow looks to continue building Rochester Community and Technical College into a perennial powerhouse.

With Zitzow leading the way, the Yellowjackets were the 2015 NJCAA Division III National Champions. In 2019, RCTC was unbeaten in MCAC Southern Division action, claiming both Conference and Region honors and finishing 3rd overall at the NJCAA Division III Volleyball Championships.

Zitzow's fantastic 2019 fall run earned her MCAC Southern Division Co-Coach-of-the-Year honors as voted on by Conference coaches. Two of her athletes, Carrie Rutledge and Brekkin McCready were tabbed as 2019 NJCAA All-American's this fall. 

For more on RCTC Yellowjacket volleyball, go to:

Erin Johnson

Trap Team Coach

Erin Johnson is a pioneer in more ways than one as a coach at North Dakota State College of Science

Johnson is the first Clay Target trap-shooting coach at NDSCS, who started their varsity program in 2019.  She is also the first female head coach in the MCAC Clay Target league, now in it's third year of existence.  

Johnson's inaugural 2019 squad comprised of 45 student-athletes, male and female, from around Minnesota and North Dakota.  The Wildcats were led this year by Arianee Wembold, who finished 5th in the Women's Division and Charlie Boldnaugh, also a 5th place finisher in the Men's Division.

For more on the new Clay Target team at North Dakota State College of Science, led by Erin Johson, please visit:


 Elizabeth Hintze


Elizabeth Hintze, a student-athlete at Vermilion Community College, has brought a new twist to the concept of two-sport athletes in the MCAC and NJCAA environments. 

Hintze, a sophomore from Coon Rapids, Minnesota competes for Vermilion in both volleyball and Clay Target; making her not only a two-sport standout, but one who does so in the same season. 

The first Athlete-of-the-Week from the Clay Target ranks of the Minnesota College Athletic Conference is a two-sport athlete who is excelling in Ely, Minnesota. 

Vermilion Community College's Ellie Hintze captures the first MCAC Clay Target Athlete-of-the-Week honor of 2019.  Hintze, a sophomore for the Ironwomen,  shot 49 out of 50 targets during the first competition shoot of the season.  Hintze was also a important fixture on Vermilion's 2018 Clay Target squad as well, earning the Runner-Up in the Women's Division at the first-ever MCAC Fall Championships in 2018.

This past fall - a Fisheries & Wildlife Management major -had eight kills, two aces and three blocks in the VCC 3-0 victory over Fond du Lac Tribal & Community College which gave first-year head coach Nikki Kosik her first MCAC win. 

For more on Vermilion Athletics, please visit:

Mary Sam


Mary Sam of Onamia is the first Director of Diversity at Central Lakes College and leads the CLC effort toward intercultural competency by implementing a Diversity Plan.

Sam has direct oversight of the Raider athletic department and serves as a member of the Executive Committee of the Minnesota College Athletic Conference.  Recently, Sam was also named to the NJCAA National Committee for Equity & Inclusion, a body tasked with several initiative aimed at improving campus cultures around athletics. 

Sam has also developed a Native American Indian certificate program at CLC and has increased visibility and awareness of the Skone Family Conservatory Housing the CLC Humphrey Center for American Indian Studies. 

Sam arrived at Central Lakes after seven years of employment with the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe. She also has experience as a school administrator for Nay Ah Shing Tribal School, and she was in social work for the Robbinsdale School District from 1989 to 2002. 

For more on Central Lakes College, go to:

Jessica Pelzel

Coach / Adminstrator


Jessica Pelzel grew up in southwestern Minnesota and played basketball at Southwest Minnesota State University in Marshall, Minnesota for four seasons. 

While she earned a bachelor's degree in Exercise Science- Kinesiology and went on to earn a master's at St. Cloud State University in Sport Studies. There, she was a graduate assistant coach for the women's basketball team. After completing her coursework, she coached at the College of St Benedict for three seasons while working also working full time as a HPER Instructor at SCSU.

In 2006 she was named the Head Women's Basketball coach and Physical education instructor at Madison College in Madison, WI. While at Madison College, Pelzel coached in three NJCAA national tournaments,  placing 2nd in 2009 and winning the NJCAA National Championship in 2010. In her 10-year coaching career at Madison, Pelzel nothced a record of 211-93. She has also been named WJCAA Coach of the Year twice and NJCAA Region XIII/IV Coach of the Year three times and NJCAA National Coach of the Year once.

In May 2019, Jess completed a second Master's Degree in Sports Management at the University of Florida. Jessica is currently an instructor in the Health, Physical Education and Recreation Department at Anoka-Ramsey Community College. She has also been the assistant women's basketball coach for four seasons.

Learn more about Anoka-Ramsey Community College Athletics at:



2019-20 Cavalier Women's Basketball Team

In July, 2019, the women's basketball team at Western Technical College  was named the 2018-19 National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Academic Team of the Year.

The award is given to the team achieving the highest team Grade Point Average (GPA) in their respective sport throughout the academic year.  The Cavaliers finished with a team GPA of 3.72, the second highest mark among all NJCAA sports teams in the nation.

They also had an impressive season on the court, finishing 12-0 in the Minnesota College Athletic Conference (MCAC) and 21-7 overall, placing fourth at the 2019 NJCAA Division III National Basketball Championship in March becoming the first team in school history to reach the national tournament.

To learn more information on Western's athletic teams, please visit  





Kiah Martinson & Kallista Roers

2019 ATCC Trap Team Members

In just their first year of competition, the Alexandria Technical & Community College varsity Clay Target Team won the Minnesota College Athletic Conference (MCAC) Fall Championship. Helping to lead the co-ed program to victory were  ATCC student-athletes, Kiah Martinson and Kallista Roers.

Martinson and Roers were tied with one other competitor for first place in the Women's Division all with 95 points.  In the tiebreaker shoot-off, Martinson secured first and Roers claimed third place, respectively.

"We are proud of the team – coming out of the gate and taking the championship," said ATCC President Michael Seymour. "The team's success will make it easier for us to break trail on some other unique competitive opportunities. They're good representatives for the college and showing how athletes and competition can bring energy to the campus."

ATCC Team Coordinator Scott Berger addressed the team at their celebratory banquet, "There's never going to be another inaugural team at this college. You're it. So when you look around here, you can know that you started this. And you started at the top." 


For more on Alexandria Technical & Community College, go to:





Kasey Palmer

Coach / Alumae

Hibbing Community College appointed alumnae Kasey Palmer as the new head coach for the Cardinal women's basketball and volleyball programs at the beginning of the 2019-20 academic year. 

Palmer is a familiar face to the HCC campus, having previously played volleyball and basketball for Hibbing between 2009 - 2012.  The Floodwood High School graduate earned an Associate of Arts Degree from Hibbing Community College during her time there as a student-athlete. 

She also earned a second degree in Criminal Justice from fellow MCAC-member school Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College.  Palmer brings the HCC programs strong experience in coaching both the girls volleyball and boys basketball programs at FHS from 2013 to 2017. 


For more on Hibbing Community College athletics:

To learn more regarding the 2020 Minnesota Girls and Women in Sport Day celebration, please go to: http:/
The Minnesota Girls and Women in Sport Day event is funded completely on donations. To learn more about how to support this event, go to:
Several athletes, coaches and administrators with connections to the Minnesota College Athletic Conference have been honored in recent years, including: 
2019 Special Merit Award: Darlene Palmer, Brainerd Community College (now Central Lakes College)
2018 Special Merit Award: Ken Miller, Assistant Volleyball Coach, Central Lakes College
2017 Special Merit Award: Deb Jacobson, Athletic Director at Northland Community & Technical College
2017 Special Merit Award: Diane Scovill, Minneapolis Community & Technical College 
2008 Kwame McDonald Media Award: Mike Bialka, Central Lakes College 
2002 Special Merit Award: Carol Howe-Veenstra, Central Lakes College
Know of someone we missed with MCAC connections?  Please email the MCAC at: to help update our list. 

The Minnesota College Athletic Conference is the organizational body for NJCAA-affiliated two-year technical and community college athletic programs in the Minnesota State Colleges & Universities system, as well as select member colleges in North Dakota and Wisconsin.  The mission of the Minnesota College Athletic Conference is to advance intercollegiate athletics by providing an engaging and supportive environment for success of our student athletes and competition among member institutions.  The MCAC is committed to the guiding principles of encouraging the development and success of student athletes, promoting the integrity, honesty and loyalty to member schools as well as upholding the sustainability of conference athletic programs.

For more information, visit

Be sure to follow our MCAC Facebook and Twitter feeds @MCACSports 

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