Walfish: The Mount Rushmore of Northwestern sports — The women


Josh Walfish, Columnist

It’s one of the most common arguments in the typical sports bar.

It’s a conversation that lasted 30 minutes in this very newsroom the other night: the Mount Rushmore of (insert sports topic here).

So I begin a two-part series looking at who would make the Mount Rushmore of NU sports.

After much consideration, I decided to do this in two parts in order to maximize the amount of athletes I could honor. So without further ado, my Mount Rushmore of Northwestern Athletics: Northwestern Women’s sports edition.

I’ll begin at No. 4 with Anucha Browne. The best basketball player in NU history, she holds the record for most points in a career with more than 2,300 and career rebounds with 951. Browne was a two-time Big Ten Player of the Year, and her senior year in 1984-85 was the best offensive season in school history. She averaged 30.5 points per game.

Browne holds off tennis star Cristelle Grier for the final spot on my list because of her historical importance. Grier was a four-time All-American as a singles player and three-time All-American in doubles, capped by a national title in doubles during her senior year in 2006. Although the two are even in terms of on-court accomplishments, Browne was the first true female superstar at NU and therefore earns the spot on the list.

The third person on my list is arguably the best lacrosse player NU has ever had — Kristen Kjellman. She ranks second in school history in goals and draw controls and third in points. One of two players to win the Tewaaraton Trophy twice, Kjellman also took home the Honda Award three times during her career, which spanned from 2004-07.

Kjellman just edged out Hannah Nielsen and Shannon Smith because of her work in the midfield and on defense. Finishing top-five in program history in draw controls, ground balls and points showcases Kjellman’s overall importance on the field. She also was the best player on the early teams that set the tone for the rest of the decade of dominance.

No. 2 is Lisa Ishikawa, the standout pitcher in the mid-1980’s for the Cats. She still holds the school record for career strikeouts and shutouts, despite some dominant pitchers coming through Evanston in the nearly 30 years since Ishikawa’s eligibility expired in 1987. Ishikawa threw 14 no-hitters, including one perfect game, and was named the NU women’s athlete of the decade for the span between 1981 and 1991.

There can only be one person at the top of this list, and it is of course the best coach at NU: Kelly Amonte Hiller. She took a team from club status to national powerhouse in such a short amount of time. The seven rings speak for themselves, as do the 224 wins. 

Yet, what is most remarkable is that NU will also be a national title threat no matter how many close games it loses in a season. We must give all the credit to Amonte Hiller for instilling that confidence in us and her team, and she will go down as the best lacrosse coach in history after what she has accomplished during her 13 years in Evanston.

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Twitter: @JoshWalfish