NCAA Women

The Women of the 2000s: Softball Begins and a Flurry of All-Star Performers Headline the Beginning of the 21st Century

WTRACK - Shuttle Hurdle Record 2001

By Mike Pearson

The much-awaited new millennium introduced an additional sport to the University of Illinois’ varsity women’s athletics lineup, but plenty of other prominent storylines occurred during the first 10 years of the 21st Century.

About one year after softball made its debut in March of 2000, Eichelberger Field became the home for a plethora of talented athletes. Β 

Women’s golf got a big boost in 2004 when construction of the Demirjian Indoor Golf Practice Facility was announced. A beautiful new tennis area, the Khan Outdoor Complex, followed three years later.

Individually, names like Felicien, Alcia, Hunt, Mensah and Bizzarri grabbed multiple headlines.

Here is a chronological look at several of the most memorable Illini women’s moments from 2000-09.

Jan. 2, 2000:Β  Women’s basketball romped past No. 5 Georgia, 82-65, at the Assembly Hall.

Mar. 11, 2000: UI’s softball team made its varsity debut, splitting a doubleheader at Coastal Carolina. Due to the lack of a home field, Coach Terri Sullivan’s players were never seen by the majority of Illini faithful.

Mar. 17, 2000: Illini women’s basketball defeated Utah in an opening-round game of the NCAA Tournament, 73-58.

Apr. 15, 2000: Groundbreaking ceremonies for Eichelberger Field.

June 13, 2000: Sophomore Jessica Aveyard, Illinois’ first-ever swimming All-American, won the Dike Eddleman Award as UI’s top female athlete.

Aug. 31, 2000: Karol Kahrs retired after 36 years of service.

Sept. 15-Oct. 1, 2000: At the Olympics, Illini swimmer Ilkay Dikman (Turkey) and Perdita Felicien (Canada) competed for their home countries.

Nov. 8, 2000:Β  Illinois soccer played and won its first-ever NCAA Tournament game, defeating Xavier, 2-0.

Mar. 15, 2001: Illini women’s swimming and diving made its very first appearance in the NCAA Championships, ultimately tying for 35th place.

Mar. 30, 2001:Β  In its first-ever Big Ten games, Coach Terri Sullivan’s Illini softball team swept Michigan State, 4-1 and 10-2. Illinois finished with a 12-8 conference record.

Apr. 27, 2001: UI’s 4×100-meter shuttle hurdle relay quartet of Jenny Kallur, Camee Williams, Susanna Kallur and Perdita Felicien set a world record (52.85) at the Drake Relays.

Apr. 29, 2001: Illini women’s tennis nipped Northwestern for the Big Ten title.

May 1, 2001: Volleyball’s Betsy…

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