SMU to host Breaking Barriers event March 8


On March 8, Saint Mary’s University invites the public to help celebrate those who are breaking barriers in women’s athletics.

The event, which begins at 7 p.m. in the Page Theatre, will spotlight the recent accolades of Dr. Nikki Fennern, Saint Mary’s athletic director, who received the Breaking Barriers Award from the Minnesota Coalition of Women in Athletic Leadership in February.


Special guest Ila Borders — legendary for breaking barriers in baseball — will also share highlights from her career. Borders achieved numerous baseball milestones at the college and professional levels, including being the first female pitcher to start a men’s professional baseball game. She played for Southern California College in the 1994-96 seasons and Whittier College in the 1997 season. She was also the first woman to receive a baseball scholarship to play men’s collegiate baseball and the first woman to earn a win in men’s collegiate baseball. She played for the Saint Paul Saints in 1997 and several other minor league professional teams.

Fennern is an active Women Leaders in College Sports member who embodies the mission of advancing women in collegiate athletics. As the director of athletics at Saint Mary’s, Fennern is committed to the education of students both in the classroom and on their respective playing surfaces. Under her guidance, Saint Mary’s athletics have enjoyed some of the best years in recent history. On top of encouraging athletic success, Fennern also leads, mentors, and provides vision for her staff, while being a positive role model for student-athletes and up-and-coming young administrators. Fennern also earned the 2016 Women’ Leaders in College Sports (formerly NACWAA) Administrator of the Year Award for Division III.

The Breaking Barriers event is being organized by the university’s Saint Teresa and Saint Peter Leadership Clubs. For more information, contact Dr. Lori Charron at


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