Hamline News

Shawn Johnson-Hipp to receive award at State Capitol

Some of Minnesota’s most inspiring and influential student-athletes, coaches and athletic leaders will be recognized at an award ceremony on Wednesday, February 3, at the Minnesota State Capitol in St. Paul.

The award ceremony will be conducted in conjunction with the 24th annual National Girls and Women in Sports Day, a nationwide celebration recognizing the accomplishments of individuals in the promotion and advancement of girls’ and women’s sports. The 2010 ceremony will be honoring
25 individuals who will be receiving awards in five separate categories. Award recipients are nominated by schools, community organizations, recreation centers, and
amateur and professional sports organizations.

This statewide award recognizes individuals or organizations that have broken barriers, overcome challenges and/or strive to provide athletic opportunities for girls and women of all races, all ages, and all levels of ability.

All are welcome to attend this public event that will take place starting at noon on Wednesday. We invite you to join us to celebrate Coach Johnson-Hipp’s accomplishments at the State Capitol.

About Coach Johnson-Hipp: 

Coach Johnson-Hipp has dedicated over thirty years to raising the bar for girls’ and women’s involvement in sport. From her days as a high school athlete to her current job as Hamline University’s women’s head track and field coach, she has committed herself to providing girls and women with athletic opportunities. 

As a high school freshman in the 1970s, Coach Johnson-Hipp was one of the top female hurdlers in the state. Since her high school offered track only as an “extramural” activity, she was unable to attend the first state meet for track (in 1972).  By her sophomore year, Coach Johnson-Hipp's mother persuaded the school administrators to join the Minnesota State High School League - which had just started girls’ participation in track.

Coach Johnson-Hipp went to the state meet and won the 60 yard hurdle event. She had to continually adapt her race strategies as league officials kept changing events – unsure of which distances girls were capable of competing. 

She was a five-time state champion in various hurdle events between her high school and college careers. Shawn earned a scholarship her second year of college after winning the state collegiate meet in the 100 meter hurdles.  She attended the AIAW National Championship meet in 1980 during a time when there were no divisions, and Olympic year “wannabes” came out of the woodwork to compete in college – both of which would never happen or be allowed again.

After receiving her bachelor’s degree in physical education and health from Minnesota State in 1980, Coach Johnson-Hipp decided to help lead the charge in promoting women’s athletics. She landed a teaching assistantship at the University of Nebraska-Omaha.  She also served as the Assistant Track and Cross Country Coach at UNO.  She remembers the anguish of the coaching staff torn between choosing an AIAW vs. NCAA alliance.  It was obvious in the sport of track and field that we would never have had the championship experience without the groundwork of the AIAW; however the monetary resources brought by the NCAA allowed their championships to grow and the AIAW folded.

When she finished her master’s degree in exercise science in 1983, Coach Johnson-Hipp became Hamline’s first full-time women’s head track & field/cross country coach.  While at Hamline, Shawn worked tirelessly to build the women’s track and cross country program in participation, resources and visibility. She brought her cross country and track teams from the bottom of the conference to top contenders in the MIAC several times. 

Coach Johnson-Hipp was heavily involved in women’s sport issues in the 1980’s.  She held an office with the National Association of Girls and Women In Sport (NAGWS), and was also involved on several committees for the Melpomene Institute for Women’s Health Research.  In 1988 she hosted the Minnesota Rally for Girls and Women in Sports with the help of Dorothy McIntyre and Hamline athletic director Linda Delano.  As a result of the conference, the Coalition to Promote Women In Athletic Leadership was developed, which later became the backbone for Minnesota’s Girls and Women in Sports Day efforts. 

The University of Minnesota, the National Sports Center, and Melpomene Institute for Women’s Health Research became very involved in the GWS Day efforts as well, and Coach Johnson-Hipp served actively on several committees to organize and promote the event. 

She took a break from coaching from 2000-2006 so she could focus on her family, but stayed involved with the track community by coaching her two sons on their track teams.   

During this time, she also continued to work with Hamline University’s teacher preparation program in physical education. In 2007, Coach Johnson-Hipp returned for her second stint as head coach of the Hamline women’s track and field team at the age of 50. She now begins her third year back at the helm of the women’s track and field program. Numbers are up and she now coaches the largest women’s team roster in the history of Hamline University women’s athletics. Coach Johnson-Hipp is also an assistant coach with the men's program, coaching the hurdle events

In 2008, Coach Johnson-Hipp led the women’s track and field program to their best finish in school history when the Pipers placed fourth at the MIAC outdoor championships.