Search ISU


Sport Science

and Physical


Idaho State University’s
National Girls and Women in Sports Day
Events Scheduled for
Thursday, January 26 and Saturday January 28, 2017

Idaho State University’s annual National Girls and Women in Sports Day (NGWSD) is scheduled for 2:00 p.m. Saturday, January 28, at Reed Gymnasium. This national day has been proclaimed by Congress every year since 1987, and is honored annually the first week of February. National Girls and Women in Sports Day recognizes the progress of girls and women in sports, and the benefits that sport and fitness activities can bring to the lives of all girls and women. “Expanding Opportunity” is the national theme for this year’s day and serves to acknowledge the importance of sport participation for women and girls. This is the 18th year ISU has hosted this event.

Idaho State University's celebration will include free admission to the ISU Women’s Basketball game versus Weber State University for the first 300 kindergarten-5th grade girls and boys. Reduced admission is available ($3) for accompanying adults. Free t-shirts and flags will be given to the first 200 girls and women, compliments of Portneuf Medical Center.

Photo of Jodi Wotowey

At half-time, the 2017 Trailblazer Award will be presented. This award, given annually, recognizes a woman with affiliation to ISU who has provided significant leadership and mentorship to women in sport. The award recipient this year is Jodi Wotowey, who currently serves as the head athletic trainer at ISU. Wotowey has been involved in athletics throughout her life through her own participation, and through advocating for and assisting others with their involvement. Tireless hours have been spent as an athletic trainer at both the high school and college levels. Much of her career was spent at schools in Texas, but in 2004 Wotowey joined the Bengal staff where she has worked with every athletic team. Jodi was also a key player in the creation of Spinderalla, a women-only cycling event held annually in Pocatello.

Following the game, one hour clinics will be held for all girls and women. The activities include: yoga, dance, fencing, rock climbing, and slack-lining.

Photo of Hillary Merkley

The National Girls and Women in Sports Day Keynote Address will be given by Hillary Merkley on January 26 at 6 p.m. in the College of Education Auditorium with a reception at 7 p.m. in the lobby. Merkley currently serves as the head coach for the track and field teams at ISU. As a former Bengal athlete, Merkley received many honors including two Big Sky Championships, the most valuable track and field athlete, Big Sky All-Academic, and the Big Sky Outdoor Outstanding Female Field athlete. She currently holds the indoor shot put record. Merkely earned her bachelor’s degree in secondary education, and her master’s degree in physical education, athletic administration. Her coaching experience began with the Bengals in 2002-2003 and continued at Paradise Valley Community College, Kansas State University, and Capital High School. Hillary’s presentation is titled: “A few things, as a female, I should have learned in kindergarten.”

For more information call Elaine Foster, Department of Sport Science and Physical Education, at (208) 282-4310 or email

Previous Recipients of the Trailblazer Award

2016 Pauline Thiros

Thiros in a lei

Pauline Thiros is the associate vice president of development at Idaho State University, and has served in the development office since 1997. She has been involved in athletics throughout her life – playing college volleyball at ISU and currently coaching club and high school teams. She is currently the winningest coach in Idaho 4A high school volleyball with a record of 282-35, and boasts seven straight district championships and six consecutive state titles.




2015 Dr. Cynthia Pemberton

Cynthia biking

Dr. Cynthia Pemberton earned her bachelor’s degree in biology and psychology from Willamette University (Salem, OR). Her M.S. in Interdisciplinary Studies from Southern Oregon State College, and her doctorate in Educational Leadership with an emphasis in postsecondary education administration from Portland State University (OR) in 1996. Dr. Pemberton has worked in higher education for over 30 years in positions ranging from adjunct instructor to tenured professor, at the community college, private undergraduate and public research university levels. Her roles and responsibilities in higher education have ranged from faculty member, to successful intercollegiate athletic coach and administrator (at the NCAA I, III and NAIA levels), to thesis/dissertation advisor, department chair, associate dean of the Graduate School, andFulbright Scholar to the Republic of Malta. Upon her return from Malta she served as interim dean of the Graduate School at Idaho State University (ISU), followed by 3-years as Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs (VPAA) at Dickinson State University (DSU, ND).

Dr. Pemberton has conducted research, published and presented locally, regionally, nationally and internationally. Her record of scholarly achievement includes two books, a chapter in an international adult learning compendium, over 30 refereed and/or limited review publications/proceedings, numerous invited publications, over 40 regional/ national/ international presentations, and well over 100 local/university and community presentations. Her 2002 book, More Than a Game: One Woman’s Fight for Gender Equity in Sport, addresses educational equity from both personal and professional perspectives, through a lived experience pursuing gender equity in sport. The book was recognized with the Phi Kappa Phi Bookshelf Award in October 2002, and received strong reviews in a number of publications (i.e., Journal of Legal Aspects of Sport, Women in Sport and Physical Activity Journal, Booklist, and Choice). Likewise, her 2012 book: Getting There: Women’s Journeys to and through Educational Attainment, Sense Publishing, received the Phi Kappa Phi Bookshelf Award, Summer 2013. Dr. Pemberton has successfully supervised 23 dissertation students, and 15 master’s level thesis students.

Dr. Pemberton is a 2008 HERS (Higher Education Resource Services) graduate, a 2010 Vision 2020 Equality in Sight national delegate, and a 2011-2012 U.S. Fulbright Scholar to the University of Malta in the Republic of Malta. Her Fulbright project focus and title was: Awareness to Advocacy: A Cross Cultural Exploration of Education Equity and Ethics. She is also an American Council on Education (ACE) Chief Academic Officer Leadership and National Women’s Leadership Forum graduate. In February 2014, Dr. Pemberton received notice from the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) and the Institute of International Education’s Council for International Exchange of Scholars (CIES) that she has been recommended for the Fulbright Specialist Roster. Fulbright Specialist Roster candidates become eligible to participate in international consultation opportunities. Dr. Pemberton’s Fulbright Specialist Roster expertise focuses on higher education leadership, with an emphasis on grow-your-own leadership development strategies, programming, innovation and change.

2014 Nancy Graziano

Nancy smiling

Nancy came to Idaho State in 1985 as an assistant women's basketball coach after a highly successful prep coaching career. During her 15 years at Alemany High School in Mission Hills,California, Nancy was a three-sport head coach compiling a 284-43 basketball record, while her volleyball teams were 165-75. In her 12 years as the softball coach, Nancy had 12 league championships with an overall record of 214-28. She was the Girls' Athletic Director for seven years before serving as the first female Director of Athletics (1977-83) in the Mission Hills League. (1977-83). Nancy also chaired the Department of Physical Education for ten years.

Inspired by her younger sister Marsha, Nancy’s passion of working with exceptional children led to her active participation in the Southern California Special Olympics preparing children for competition. In honor of her sister, Nancy started the Exceptional Halloween Dance at Alemany in 1981. This annual event, which still continues today, is one of Nancy’s proudest accomplishments.

Nancy completed her undergraduate work at California State University, Northridge, and earned her Master's degree in Athletic Administration from Idaho State University in 1990.

In 2006, Nancy was inducted into the Alemany High School Sports Hall of Fame and was named the ISU Homecoming Parade Marshal that same year. She has been active in the Simplot Games and local cancer drives. She has generously supported the ISU Bengal Foundation, the “I Love ISU” Scholarship Campaign, and the College of Education. She enjoys outdoor activities, watching ISU sports teams compete, and spending time with her family and friends.

Nancy is finishing her 29th year at Idaho State University where she currently serves as the Senior Women's Administrator and Associate Athletic Director. She oversees academics, compliance, training room, and equipment room. She takes great pleasure in working with both student athletes and coaches, assisting and advising them. She is fortunate to have her sister, Marsha living with her, who is ISU’s number one fan.


921 South 8th Avenue
Pocatello, Idaho, 83209