Girls & Women In Sports Day Highlights Continue

Girls & Women In Sports Day Highlights Continue

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 and ending on Wednesay, February 2/5 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. 

Today, Tuesday, February 4,  features folks at the following colleges: Century College; Dakota College-Bottineau; Rainy River Community College; Southwest Wisconsin Technical College; Northland Community & Technical College; Mesabi Range College; St. Cloud Technical & Community College and Itasca Community College. 

The first MCAC release, posted Monday, February 3, is available at:

 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 those in sport who are making a difference in our MCAC communities in women's athletics.

Jay Kam 

Volleyball Coach 


Century College debuted a new varsity women's volleyball program in 2019, with head coach and faculty member Jay Kam as a driving force behind the initiative. 

Coach Kam's desire for the Century  program extends beyond volleyball and athletic performance. His goal for his players is to help them succeed in college.  Kam note's that his job is to not only to recruit and coach a competitive volleyball team, but also to be a counselor and advisor to the players and help them through their two years at Century College 

Jay Kam also teaches in the Physical Education Department at Century College and is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist through the National Strength and Conditioning Association. He received his Bachelor of Science Degree (B.S.) in Exercise Science from Seattle Pacific University and his Masters of Arts (M.A.) in Physical Education from Mankato State University.

For more on Century College, visit:





Carolyn Rygg

Athletic Trainer

Carolyn Rygg serves as the head athletic trainer for Dakota College-Bottineau. 

The DCB Jacks fielded football teams in the Minnesota College Athletic Conference through the 2019 season and Rygg was a key component in the health and wellness of football student-athletes in Bottineau. 

Nearly 90 student-athletes from the Dakota-Bottineau football program have gone on to compete at the four-year college level, including Aaron Appleton at NCAA Division I Saint Francis University and Dimitrius Patterson at the University of Tennessee. 

As with all sports medicine professional's DCB's Carolyn Rygg dedicates long hours and selfless dedication to keeping student-athletes healthy and on the field. 

For more on Dakota-Bottineau, visit: https:/





Erin Nagurski-Hall

Head Coach, Women's Hockey

Asst. Coach, Volleyball


Erin Nagurski-Hall became the head coach of the Voyageur's Women's Hockey in 2017-2018 at Rainy River Community CollegeNagurski-Hall also serves as an assistant coach for veteran volleyball mentor Mel Millerberndt 

Coach Hall is an International Falls native, a local entrepreneur and fitness professional. Hall has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology and a minor in Coaching from the University of Minnesota, Duluth, and an Associate of Arts degree from Rainy River Community College. While at UMD, she was a member of the Bulldogs Division I Women's Hockey Team.

Coach Hall directs a three-time American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA) National Championship program, which had it's inaugural season during the 2005-2006 school year. Women's Hockey was implemented at RRCC to give women an opportunity to play hockey beyond the high school level. The goals of the program are to continue to develop the players to enjoy a lifelong love of the game of hockey, as well as create possible opportunities for continued play at a four-year college or university.

For more on Rainy River Community College, please visit: https:/




Robin Hamel


Robin Hamel serves as the Athletic Director and Student Life Coordinator at Southwest Tech, and provides a wide range of administrative support to the athletic teams on campus. 

Southwest Tech is a pioneer in the sport of Clay Target, with some of the largest rosters in the MCAC ranks.  They also boast one of the largest populations of women in their Clay Target roster and the Southwest Tech program produced the Women's Division Champion, Bryeanna Kuhn, in 2018.  

An NJCAA golf program is also featured at Southwest Tech under Hamel, who teams with head golf coach Scott Kennedy, a Golf Course Management Instructor at Southwest Tech to run the Charger program. Charger golf has produced several National Tournament qualifiers, including Erik Hansen and Craig Halma, most recently in 2015. 

Robin Hamel also serves the Fennimore, Wisconsin campus as a Student Senate advisor, daily administration of the Charley's Student Center and coordination of all clubs, intramurals and organizations on campus. 

For more on Southwest Tech, please visit: https:/





Carly Mekash

Pioneer Student-Athlete

Northland Community & Technical College student-athlete Carly Mekash rarely leaves the gym between the months of August to March, as the two-sport standout logs double duty for the Pioneer volleyball and women's basketball programs. 

Mekash, a sophomore from Greenbush, Minnesota, has collected plenty of individual and team honors over the course of her career in Thief River Falls.  Mekash earned NJCAA National Player-of-the-Week in Volleyball as a freshman and has picked up MCAC Athlete-of-the-Week awards in both basketball and volleyball multiple times in her two years. 

Mekash has landed on MCAC All-Division and All-State teams in both sports in the 2018-19 and 2019-20 academic years.  Currently, Mekash and the Northland women's basketball team are ranked in the NJCAA Top 15 and are locked in a battle with Rainy River for the championship in the MCAC Northern Division this year. Mekash is found in the Individual Leaders for Points-per-Game (18.8), Rebounds per Game (11.8) and is No. 1 so far this year in FG Percentage, hitting 57.6% of her shots from the floor. 

For more on Northland visit:



Jesse Bennett

Sports Information / Statisician 

At Mesabi Range College, a MCAC member college with campuses in Eveleth and Virginia, Minnesota, Jesse Bennett is one of those dedicated individuals working hard behind the scenes for the Lady Norse volleyball, basketball and softball programs. 

Late nights of accumulating stats, cross-checking box scores and drafting game summaries for weekly honors fill Bennett's calendar across all three MCAC sport seasons.   For sports professionals like Bennett, there is no off-season once the school year starts. 

While athletes and coaches often are found in the spotlight on the courts and fields of intercollegiate athletics, dozens of professionals and student staff play important roles in support of those countless games, meets and tournaments.  Without athletic trainers, managers and sports information professionals, the experience of college sports fans and athletes alike would certainly be sub-standard.   

Jesse Bennett has been and continues to be an important voice for the success of female athletes at Mesabi Range. Several publications, including the Mesabi Daily News, feature his work as a part of their coverage of the Lady Norse. 

For more on Mesabi Range College, go to:


Tori Nelson & Kamryn D'Heilly

Cyclone Student-Athletes

St. Cloud Technical & Community College has established consistently strong women's sport programs in recent years and are building their success with quality student-athletes. 

Sophomore volleyball student-athlete Tori Nelson was one of several Cyclones turning in clutch performances, including picking up a NJCAA Volleyball National Player-of-the-Week honor this past fall; the Willmar, Minnesota product also received MCAC Second Team All-State honors while competing for veteran head coach Heidi Smith. 

One of Nelson's teammates, Kamryn D'Heilly suits up not only for the SCTCC volleyball squad but is a key performer for the women's basketball team.  D'Heilly was a MCAC First-Team All-State performer in volleyball in the fall and has extended her strong play to into the winter. The Annadale, Minnesota freshman currently leads the MCAC in Rebounds-per-Game, averaging an impressive 15 boards a contest. 

For more on St. Cloud Technical & Community College and Cyclone please visit:






Amber Smith

Coach / Alumnae

Amber Smith blazed a strong path as both an NJCAA and NCAA student-athlete, and returned to the basketball court as a mentor in Grand Rapids this past fall. 

Smith was a two-year standout between 2015 and 2019 for Vikings under former Itasca Community College head coach John Bauer.  Smith went on to compete at the College of St. Scholastica where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Educatinoal Studies. 

In addition to her work on behalf of the Viking women's basketball program, Smith serves as a paraprofessional at Deer River Elementary School, near Grand Rapids. 

Smith was one of 25 new hires across the Minnesota College Athletic Conference this past fall; she joined several other former NJCAA and MCAC female student-athletes who have stepped into coaching roles, including Kasey Palmer (Hibbing Community College), Brittany McNab (Minnesota West) and Erica Smith (Ridgewater College)

For more on Itasca Community College go to: https:/


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.