Girls get it done.
Auburn University finally made a commitment to women’s intercollegiate athletics in the 1970s, and since then women have been excelling in their sports. By 1977, Auburn women were competing in eight sports: basketball, golf, gymnastics, softball, swimming and diving, tennis, track and field and volleyball.
The Auburn Women’s Basketball team went to the final four long before the men's team, three straight times in its run from 1988-1990. Ruthie Bolton, Carolyn Jones, and Vickie Orr are some of the names that had much to do with Auburn’s success.
Remember those names.
The Auburn Soccer team started in 1993, and — after some growing pains — is a constant player in the SEC Conference championship race. Auburn won four straight SEC Division titles between 2001-2004, a fifth in 2006 and the regular-season title in 2002. This was under the care and guidance of Karen Hoppa, who has had a long and successful career as the head of the soccer team for 21 years. She has lead Auburn to the SEC Tournament 19 consecutive times, has accumulated seven SEC Western Division Championships and one conference tournament crown. With an impressive record that is detailed on auburntigers.com, Hoppa has made her name synonymous with Auburn soccer.
Women’s equestrian debuted in 1996 and since then has been one of the best equestrian teams in the country for nearly two decades. In 2006 the team won its first national championship and has won five more times since then.
Women have been on Auburn’s campus for over 125 years, yet there is only one statue to commemorate their achievements and contributions. In 2019, Auburn University honored 125 years of women here with a nearly seven-foot-tall statue.
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It’s a nice statue.
In Feb. 2020, the Auburn Board of Trustees approved a commission to add three statues of Cliff Hare, Ralph ‘Shug’ Jordan, and Pat Dye. They will be joining statues of Pat Sullivan, Bo Jackson, Cam Newton, and Charles Barkley. There will be seven statues of male athletes or coaches, to the one statue dedicated to Auburn women that's tucked away on the Mell Concourse.
These men have made great contributions to the world of sports that Auburn so clearly loves, but so have many women. The women’s equestrian team as a whole deserves an honor for setting the standard of continued excellence.
More names for consideration of a statue are Becky Jackson, Derriane Gobourne and Unique Thompson. Jackson finished her basketball career at Auburn as an all-time leading scorer and rebounder with 2,068 points and 1,118 rebounds. She ranked second in career scoring, behind Bonner, who finished with 2,162 points. Thompson, who just declared for the WNBA draft, and broke both of their records, is another name to throw in the hat.
Derrian Gobourne is a gymnast who, as a freshman, won Auburn’s first national championship at the 2019 NCAA Championship. Shea Brennaman at the Auburn Wire on USA Today even compared her to Cam Newton.
“What Cam Newton brought to Auburn football Derrian brings to Auburn gymnastics,” Brennaman said. “Championships, excitement, and hope.”
Kasey Cooper played softball at Auburn and held almost every offensive record in her senior year at Auburn. She played for the U.S. women’s national softball team, won a gold medal with the team at the 2016 Women’s Softball World Championship.
Emily Carosone, who is now an assistant softball coach at Auburn played for the Tigers and lead them to two Women’s College World Series appearances, and a runner-up finish in 2016.
Of course, there are scores of other Auburn women who are deserving of a statue that aren’t on this list or aren’t even athletes. But Auburn seems set on honoring men that have made great achievements in sports.
But all of the statues of men around campus really begs the question: why not also honor the women who are doing — and have done — the same?
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