What began as Females and Sports Today in the mid-1990s became Women’s Intersport Network (WIN) for Columbia in 1997. WIN is a not-for-profit organization whose members promote athletic participation and fitness activities among girls and women. Its mission includes increasing athletic opportunities for women in the Columbia area and recognizing athletic achievements.
Each year, WIN organizers hold an awards luncheon recognizing women for their achievements in sports and fitness. Over the years, it has become perhaps the best-recognized event of its kind. During the celebration, awards are given in recognition of accomplishments such as:
- Female Coach of the Year
- Mentor of the Year
- Collegiate and High School Sportswoman of the Year
- Youth Athlete of the Year
- Inspiration/Courage Award.
In addition, a Kent Heitholt Memorial Award is given to a man or woman whose positive influence has supported women in sports.
Numerous national women’s sports figures have spoken at WIN banquets, including Olympic gymnast Shannon Miller, Paralympian Aimee Mullins, Olympic track-and-field athlete Jackie Joyner-Kersee, long-distance swimmer Diana Nyad and Olympic track-and-field athlete Natasha Kaiser Brown. The luncheon draws 450 to 550 people and receives support from many generous donations, sponsorships and ticket sales, which can be made at winforcolumbia.com.
Our community has a strong core of residents who have set a wonderful example by donating time and money to make Columbia the top-of-the-line city it is. There are so many ways to make a difference. Those needs are well-publicized thanks to a vibrant media community. Our local businesses have set a great example by volunteering to help not-for-profit organizations such as WIN grow and thrive.