JR Payne

Year: 2023
Award: Joan Birkland Leadership Award
Location/Affiliation: University of Colorado

  • Lead CU women’s basketball team to the national stage
  • Made NCAA Sweet 16
  • Top 15 finalist for the Naismith Women’;s College coach of the Year

Time now to present our Joan Birkland Leadership Award, uniting our past, present, and future. “Joanie” was our very first executive director and served in that role for 40 years! She was also a huge CU Buffs fan. So, she’d be over the moon that CU Basketball Coach JR Payne is receiving her namesake award. All JR has done is lead her CU women‘s basketball back to the national stage! First, her Buffs made the NCAA Sweet 16 for the first time in 20 years. Then, they started this new season with an upset of then-top-ranked LSU. JR was a Top 15 finalist for the Naismith Women’s College Coach of the Year.

\When you’re around JR, regardless of a win or a loss, you’ll hear her say, “We will watch the film and figure out where to get better.” Well, we’ve all watched the film on JR Payne long enough to know that she is exactly the kind of leader deserving of the Joan Birkland Award.

By: Jenny Cavnar, MLB broadcaster

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