Mar 18, 2024

Sportswomen of Colorado Celebrates 50th Anniversary

Denver Tech Center, CO, March 17, 2024— More than 460 people gathered to recognize excellence in girls’ and women’s sports for the fiftieth time, at the Sportswomen of Colorado 50th Anniversary Awards Celebration on Sunday night, March 17, 2024, held at the Hyatt Regency Denver Tech Center. They celebrated achievement by more than 40 female athletes and teams, their coaches and contributors. They also paid tribute to the history of the organization and the progress made by empowering excellence in female athletics over the past fifty years. More than 2200 awards have now been presented.

First of its kind, one of a kind
When the Sportswomen of Colorado non-profit was founded half a century ago, it made history as the first organization in the entire country to honor the best in female athletics from all across the state. And, it’s still believed to be the only one recognizing achievement on a statewide basis.

Mikaela Shiffrin takes top honor
Following the tradition that began at the very first awards celebration in 1975, the evening wrapped up with the surprise announcement of Colorado’s Sportswoman of the Year. She’s Vail’s Mikaela Shiffrin, the winningest alpine skier of all time and a Sportswomen of Colorado Hall of Famer. Going into the night, Shiffrin was already the most-decorated athlete in the history of the non-profit’s 50-year history. This is the 6th time she’s has been named Sportswoman of the Year.

Shiffrin was awarded the top honor in recognition of her 2023 season, when she recorded her 87th win to reset the World Cup record for most career victories. Shiffrin was selected for the award from among all the night’s honorees and Hall of Fame athletes by members of the Colorado sports media.

Shiffrin spoke to the crowd on videotape from Europe. “I just want to say congratulations to all the nominees and all the recipients tonight,” she said. “It’s so meaningful for me to be recognized as Sportswoman of the Year, again! On the 50th anniversary. So, thank you so much for this honor.”

2023 Honorees
In addition to Shiffrin, 41 others were honored for their 2023 achievements and lifetime contributions. Highlighting the list are Portland Thorns and U.S. National Team soccer player Sophia Smith, Grandview High School basketball player Sienna Betts, Masters triathlete Steph Popelar, University of Colorado basketball coach JR Payne, Colorado State University basketball player McKenna Hofschild, Ninja Warrior Jaleesa Himka, and legendary sports journalist Scott Stocker.

New Hall of Famers
Two athletes were added to the Sportswomen of Colorado Hall of Fame— Colorado Mesa University’s Division II National Champion Wrestler Marissa Gallegos, out of Jefferson High School, and heptathlete Anna Hall, from Valor Christian High School and the University of Florida, who took silver at the World Championships.

Past Sportswomen of the Year
Highlighting the past, present, and future of the non-profit, each of the new honorees was escorted to the stage by a past award recipient, including nearly a dozen past Sportswomen of the Year— Lou Piel (Softball, 1979), Tanya Haave (Basketball & Volleyball, 1980), Rhonda Blanford-Green (Hurdler, 1985), Yolanda Johnson (Hurdler, 1986), Libbie Hickman (Road Racing, 1997), Alison Dunlap (Mountain Biking, 2001), Katelyn Kaltenbach (Cross Country Running, 2003), Erin Popovich (Paralympic Swimming, 2008), Sarah Thomas (Open Water Swimming, 2019), as well as members of the 1981 Evergreen High School volleyball team and the 1989 University of Colorado women’s basketball team.

Complete List of 2023 Sportswomen of Colorado Honorees

Sport Awards
Sienna Betts – Basketball – High School (Grandview High School)
Jaylyn Sherrod – Basketball – College (University of Colorado)
Addison Ritzenhein – Cross Country – High School (Niwot High School)
Morgan Manley – Diving – High School (Denver East High School)
Carol Whipple – Duathlon – Masters
Saylor Swanson – Flag Football (Arvada West High School)
Logan Hale – Golf – High School (Erie High School)
Morgan Miller – Golf – College (University of Colorado)
Monica Lieving – Golf Long Drive – Professional
Lauren Burt – Gymnastics – High School (Lakewood High School)
Jessica Hutchinson – Gymnastics – College (University of Denver)
Betty Nelson – Lacrosse – High School (Columbine High School)
Sam Thacker – Lacrosse – College (University of Denver)
Jaleesa Himka – Ninja Warrior (University School of Colorado Springs)
Erika Manilla – Racquetball – Professional (Denver Athletic Club)
Nicki Fraser – Soccer – High School (Rock Canyon High School)
Shyra James– Soccer – College (University of Colorado)
Sophia Smith – Soccer – Professional (Portland Thorns FC)
Addie Osborne – Softball – High School (Erie High School)
Kenzie Middleton – Softball – College (Colorado Christian University)
Sahvanna Jaquish – Softball – Professional (Team USA)
Madison Mintenko – Swimming – High School (Pine Creek High School)
Quinn Bernthal – Tennis (Fairview High School)
Emma Stutzman – Track and Field – High School (Pomona High School)
Hannah Miller – Track and Field – College (Colorado School of Mines)
Anna Hall – Track and Field – Professional
Maïra Carreau – Triathlon – College (University of Denver)
Steph Popelar – Triathlon – Masters
Delaney Russell – Volleyball – High School (Valor Christian High School)
Carter Booth – Volleyball – College (University of Wisconsin)
Persaeus Gomez – Wrestling – High School (Pomona High School)
Marissa Gallegos – Wrestling – College (Colorado Mesa University)

Special Awards
Brihanna Crittendon – Most Promising (Riverdale Ridge High School)
Lorne Donaldson – Contribution to Sport (REAL Colorado Soccer Club)
Kirstie Ennis – Most Inspirational
McKenna Hofschild – Career Achievement (Colorado State University)
Zoe Martin – All-Around (Colorado Academy)
JR Payne – Joan Birkland Leadership Award (University of Colorado, Basketball)
Scott Stocker – Dorothy Mauk Pioneer Award (Sports Journalist)
University of Denver Lacrosse Team and Head Coach Liza Kelly

About Sportswomen of Colorado
Promote * Honor * Empower
Founded in 1974, Sportswomen of Colorado is a community-based non-profit that supports and honors female athletes and teams, celebrates their achievements, and recognizes those whose efforts advance girls’ and women’s individual and team sports endeavors. Sportswomen of Colorado also runs a scholarship program, funding sports camp experiences for deserving girls aged 9-13. Clinics presented by collegiate women’s teams at high impact elementary schools is our newest program.