University of Minnesota Alumni Association


Up to Bat

Softball phenom Gretchen Larson (B.M.E. '85) had an unusual path to the U of M and the two-time All-American career that followed.

Photo credit: University Archives

Softball phenom Gretchen Larson (B.M.E. ‘85), had an unusual path to the U of M. She skipped class one afternoon at her Edina high school to go to a U of M women’s softball game, just to see if she could measure up with the Gophers. She had played on a team that finished second place in the state tournament, and that emboldened her to introduce herself to then-coach Linda Wells. Wells invited her to a tryout at the U of M.

A two-time All-American career followed.

Larson’s years on the softball team in the early ’80s were marked by improved resources. “Title IX was pretty well established,” she says. “There was money to fly to all of our Big Ten games. We were given home and away, and practice uniforms, too, and that seemed like a big deal.”

Still, a sense of “chipping in to help” pervaded women’s athletics. Larson and others volunteered for duties in sports not their own. The All-American Larson recalls being “a horrible line judge in Gopher volleyball matches” and being yelled at by an assistant basketball coach for her inadequacies manning the 30-second clock at a Gopher game.

The University will honor Gretchen Larson in a ceremony this spring as she has her jersey retired by the softball team.

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