The Louisville field hockey team opened its 2012 season by honoring a very special member of the Louisville athletics family. The Cardinals honored Sherrill Brakmeier on her 90th birthday by playing the first Brakmeier Classic game at Trager Stadium against No. 21 Northeastern on August 24.
Brakmeier has been on the sidelines at Trager Stadium for many years as a player, coach and fan. A 1944 graduate of the University of Louisville, Brakmeier was a four-year member of every sport offered at the university for women including field hockey, volleyball, basketball and softball. Along with her commitment to being a student-athlete, Brakmeier was president of the Women's Recreation Association (WRA), a student council member and president of the Pep Club.
Brakmeier joined the Louisville faculty upon graduation as part of the Department of Health, Physical Education and Recreation (HPER). As a teacher Brakmeier was involved in fencing, bowling and volleyball among other activities. She also served as an academic advisor to HPER students, and spearheaded the Recreation Education major at Louisville.
Brakmeier arguably made some of her most important contributions to the University of Louisville as the head field hockey coach. In her 30-year stint, she transformed women's intercollegiate opportunities by forming intramural leagues and eventually varsity squads. She has been a prominent member of the L-Club Board of Directors and was the first woman inducted into the University of Louisville Athletic Hall of Fame.
The University of Louisville also awards the The Sherrill Brakmeier/Clark Wood Awards to "student-athletes who have at least a 3.0 GPA and exemplify outstanding qualities of leadership, dedication to the community, service and scholarship as well as commitment and loyalty to the University of Louisville." Several other university awards have been named in honor of Brakmeier's service.
In a statement wishing Brakmeier a happy 90th birthday, Louisville's Executive Senior Associate Athletic Director and Senior Woman Administrator Julie Hermann said:
"This is about who you are and what you have meant to so many women, in particular in this department. In this year of the 40th anniversary of title IX, when I think about what you have done and what you have accomplished as an athlete and as a coach, we cannot thank you enough for your department-wide impact. Thank you."
Brakmeier's time as a player and coach has had a great impact on the University of Louisville, and her role as spectator and fan has been equally important to the Louisville field hockey team. The Cardinals renamed their locker room the Sherrill Brakmeier Locker Room, presenting her with the honor following the game against Northeastern on Aug. 24. Known as "Mrs. B.," Brakmeier's presence at Trager Stadium energizes the Cardinals with cheering , to go along with her ever-present candy distribution at every game.
Sherrill Brakmeier has watched the Louisville field hockey team establish a prominent position in the BIG EAST. Since joining the league in 2005, Louisville has appeared in the BIG EAST Field Hockey Championship every year. Louisville has also been ranked in the NFHCA preseason top 25 coaches poll six of the last seven years.
This season, Louisville is off to a 4-2 start. Sophomore forward Becca Maddock leads the team with four goals and nine points. A 2012 All-BIG EAST Preseason Team selection, Erin Conrad has 29 saves and one shutout in goal for the Cardinals.
Entering her second season with the Cardinals, Head coach Justine Sowry understands the importance of Brakmeier to the program. "[She is] a pioneer for this field hockey program and the university in women's athletics. We thank you for your love and support."
With Brakmeier's unconditional presence and support, the Cardinals are poised for another season of success. Although their hard work and focus is placed on the future, they have shown an appreciation of the foundation, history and tradition that led them here.