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Even in defeat, a clear message was sent that there are brighter days ahead for the Mustangs.
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DES MOINES — This wasn’t a token deal.
“This wasn’t just about getting a woman behind the microphone,” said Jean Berger, executive director of the Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union. “This was about getting a qualified woman.”
Gina Rogers of Cedar Rapids spent the first three days of the girls’ state basketball tournament at the officials’ table, serving as public address announcer.
“It’s kind of a dream come true,” the 52-year-old Rogers said Wednesday morning. “I’d been trying to get on for years."
Rogers is the first woman to serve as a regular as a girls’ state basketball PA announcer. She has held a similar position for multiple sports at Cedar Rapids Washington for about 15 years.
“It’s a pretty emotional thing for me, being here,” Rogers said. “It’s hard to keep it in check.
“I get pretty nervous during the introductions, but once the game starts, I’m fine. The thing I’m most conscious of, I want to pronounce every kid’s name right. That’s a big deal.”
A Sigourney native, Rogers began attending the tournament as a little girl. She scored an autograph from former PA Jim Duncan when she was 6.
“That was a thrill,” she said.
In addition to her PA duties at Washington, Rogers has served as a basketball color commentator for WMT and KGYM radio and KCRG 9.2 television.
She has been a PA announcer at state volleyball for the last few years. But the waiting list for state basketball is a long one.
“I met her at volleyball, and I thought she did a great job,” Berger said. “I asked if she would be available for state basketball.
“She said, ‘I’ve been trying to break in for eight years.’ I told her, ‘Broken.’”
A marketer at Verizon, Rogers will return to Wells Fargo to work again Friday.
LIPPERT CLAIMS COOLEY AWARD
Bethany Lippert of Ackley AGWSR is the recipient of the 2017 E.Wayne Cooley Scholarship Award.
The scholarship award, in the name of the late IGHSAU executive secretary, is worth $15,000 over four years. Lippert will attend Iowa State University.
Lippert was the Class 1A state runner-up in the 3,000-meter run last year and has qualified in four different events, plus cross country.
Annika Wall of Jesup was among five other finalists and received $1,000.
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