Skip Navigation

Produced by the Office of Marketing and Communications

Subscribe Now

10 Female Heroes of Maryland Sports

Athletics Campaign Highlights Coaches, Athletes, Leaders to Celebrate National Girls and Women in Sports Day

By Annie Krakower

Collage of athletes/coachs: Elizabeth Hopkins, Erika Pritchard, Kiani Profit, Abigail Schmidt, Dottie McKnight, Irene Knox, Sandy Worth, Virunpat Olankikunchai, Ginny Bowen and Bonnie Bernstein

Photos courtesy of Maryland Athletics

From top left, Elizabeth Hopkins, Erika Pritchard, Kiani Profit, Abigail Schmidt, Dottie McKnight, Irene Knox, Sandy Worth, Virunpat Olankikunchai, Ginny Bowen and Bonnie Bernstein are among the Terps featured in Maryland Athletics' #FearlessWomen campaign.

For decades, the women of Maryland Athletics have been breaking records and barriers. Now, a new campaign is helping to share their stories—and empowering the next generation of fierce female Terps.

The athletic department last month launched the #FearlessWomen campaign, which highlights 44 impactful Maryland athletes from over the years while fundraising for current and future female student-athlete scholarships. New Terps’ stories were revealed throughout the weeks leading up to today, the 34th annual National Girls and Women in Sports Day.

“Here at Maryland, we are fortunate to be surrounded by a community of amazing women,” Athletic Director Damon Evans said, “from coaches to administrators to Terrapin Club members and the like, and I can’t forget our student-athletes.”

While recent national titles for lacrosse, basketball and field hockey might come to fans’ minds first, Terps’ achievements stretch back much farther and cover a wide array of sports—water polo, rifle, even Cirque de Soleil acrobatics. Huddle up and get inspired by 10 women who you may not have known about before:

Gymnast Bonnie BernsteinBonnie Bernstein
The Academic All-American gymnast overcame three knee surgeries while competing for the Terps from 1989–92. After completing her journalism degree, she spent nearly two decades on-air with ESPN/ABC and CBS covering the NFL, NBA, MLB and college football and basketball, and she was recognized by the American Sportscasters Association as one of the top female journalists in her field.


Swimmer Ginny BowenGinny Bowen
The swimmer’s name is written all over UMD’s record books, as she notched one individual and four relay records from 2008–12. The backstroke and freestyle specialist earned four All-American and two All-Academic ACC selections, and she competed at the 2012 Olympic trials.



Water polo player Elizabeth HopkinsElizabeth Hopkins
The water polo player is the Terps’ all-time leader in points (261) and ranks second in goals (189) and assists (72). While playing for Maryland from 2006–09, she earned two first-team All-Collegiate Water Polo Association (CWPA) Southern Division nods and helped lead UMD to a third-place finish at the CWPA Eastern Championship in 2009. She went on to play professionally for Club Esportiu Mediterrani in Barcelona.


Rifle athlete Irene KnoxIrene Knox
A University of Maryland Athletics Hall of Famer, Knox led Maryland to national rifle championships in 1931 and 1932 while earning an individual title, scoring a perfect 200 from the kneeling, prone and standing positions. Crediting her farsighted right eye for helping her hit targets so accurately, she is considered UMD’s first Olympian—she qualified for the 1932 Summer Games in Los Angeles, but there was no women’s competition in rifle that year.


Basketball coach Dottie McKnightDottie McKnight
Another Maryland Athletics Hall of Famer, McKnight became UMD’s first women’s basketball coach after the sport was recognized at the varsity level in 1971. At the helm for four seasons, she also served as an athletic administrator and an assistant professor of physical education. In 1975, she coached Maryland in the first women’s basketball game ever televised nationally, a loss to Immaculata at Cole Field House.


Golfer Virunpat OlankitkunchaiVirunpat Olankikunchai
The junior has helped elevate women’s golf at UMD, last year leading the team to its first NCAA regional bid since 2012 and becoming the first Terp to advance to the NCAA championships. She notched seven top 10 finishes on her way to First Team All-Big Ten honors as a sophomore, and she set the program record for scoring average.



Volleyball player Erika PritchardErika Pritchard
The outside hitter, who’s played in all 354 sets since joining the team, in 2018 became UMD’s first volleyball student-athlete to earn a First Team All-Big Ten nod. A two-time Academic All-Big Ten honoree, she ranks seventh all-time at Maryland in kills, ninth in career service aces and 11th in points with her senior season left to play.



Track and field athlete Kiani ProfitKiani Profit
The 2011 graduate holds UMD records in the pentathlon and heptathlon, and she ranks in the top 10 for 400- and 800-meter, and 55- and 60-meter-hurdle times, as well as in the high jump. A four-time All-American, she continued her track and field career with Team USA, winning the heptathlon at the 2010 and 2012 North American, Central American and Caribbean Athletic Association Under-23 Championships and competing in the 2012 and 2016 Olympic trials.


Gymnast Abigail SchmidtAbigail Schmidt
A Terps gymnast from 2008–11, Schmidt took home an East Atlantic Gymnastics League All-Around conference title in each of her last two seasons at UMD and earned All-Academic honors during all four years. After graduation, she achieved her dream of joining one of the world’s most prestigious live performance companies, Cirque du Soleil, as a flyer/acrobat.


Athletic trainer Sandy WorthSandy Worth
Worth, both the only woman to serve as head athletic trainer at an ACC school and the only woman to hold that title for football in the conference, retired last year after 46 years of coordinating medical care for hundreds of student-athletes. She earned a spot in the Maryland Athletics Hall of Fame for her dedication.





Maryland Today is produced by the Office of Marketing and Communications for the University of Maryland community on weekdays during the academic year, except for university holidays.