Bill Musselman was 31 when he coached the Gophers in a Big Ten basketball game for the first time on Jan. 8, 1972, at Williams Arena. The opponent was another 31-year-old, Bobby Knight, and the Indiana Hoosiers.

The attendance for the Gophers’ 52-51 victory was announced at 19,121, and there were another 4,000-5,000 people behind the west wall, watching on closed-circuit television in the hockey arena.

Five months later, on June 23, President Richard Nixon signed a bill containing the Education Amendments of 1972. This included the Title IX amendment that cleared the way for high school girls and collegiate women to compete equally in team sports.

On Nov. 9, 2018, there was a large crowd in Williams Arena to watch a young coach lead the Gophers, and there were 5,500 excited fans in the adjacent arena behind the west wall.

The coach helping to bring basketball fans to the Barn was Lindsay Whalen, 35, and behind the wall in what’s now Maturi Pavilion, Hugh McCutcheon’s volleyball team continue its unbeaten run in the Big Ten. The attractions filling two arenas were women athletes.

Maybe you have to be as old as me to be impressed by the popularity of these side-by-side events. Or maybe you have to be someone who was as involved in that first decade of women’s sports as was Annie Adamczak, then of Moose Lake High School, now Annie Adamczak-Glavan of Club 43 volleyball in Hopkins.

“We were a family of 12 kids, and my two older sisters, Trish and Mona, didn’t have a chance to play high school athletics,” she said. “When my grade reached high school, we had a collection of good athletes and played all the sports.”

Moose Lake won state volleyball and softball titles and finished second in basketball in 1980-81. It went 79-0 in winning all three state titles in 1981-82, Annie’s senior year. Then she became a volleyball All-America at Nebraska.

“Everybody loves Lindsay Whalen, and it’s great that people came out to see her team in its first game,” Adamczak-Glavan said. “To have 16-17,000 people in that old place for basketball and volleyball on the same night …

“As I said, for someone with two older sisters who never had a chance to play sports, it’s tremendous.”


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Random observations:

• There was a mass of empty seats behind the west basket for Whalen’s debut (announced as a 14,625 sellout). It was the student area, and free Domino’s didn’t bring in the numbers expected.

• Samantha Seliger-Swenson, the senior volleyball setter, can’t quite replace Bobby Lee Bell as my all-time favorite Gophers athlete, but she is special.

• Best high school football story in years: St. Paul Johnson, a city school in the truest sense, rising up to earn a trip to The Zygi for the state semifinals in Class 4A. Herb Brooks would be proud.