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Renovated athletics facilities dedicated to beloved Auggies

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Augsburg student-athletes gathered with alumni, family, and friends during Homecoming Weekend 2022 to tour renovated athletics facilities named after beloved Auggies.

Members of Augsburg’s first all-female Hall of Fame class were among the first to tour the renovated women’s locker room in Si Melby Hall, which was dedicated to fellow Hall of Famer Patricia Piepenburg ’69.

This meaningful dedication happened 50 years after the passage of Title IX, the landmark federal civil rights law that prohibits sex-based discrimination in any school or education program that receives funding from the federal government.

Basketball guard Samaiya Buchanan ’24 said the renovation connects decades of trailblazing Auggies who continue to empower female student-athletes to break barriers and achieve their potential.

“The renovation, particularly during this Title IX milestone, reminds our generation to keep setting the bar high and to not let society separate us or treat us unequally because we are women,” said Buchanan, a junior business marketing and management major. “We need to keep exposing the differences between men’s and women’s sports and keep performing and perfecting our skills to show that we are just as dedicated and capable.”

The weekend also featured a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Donny Wichmann Weight Room in the James Haglund Family Fitness and Recreation Center. Friends and family honored the legacy of former Augsburg wrestler and coach Donny Wichmann ’89, who died in July 2019 after a battle with brain cancer.

Visitors also toured the updated athletic training and sports medicine center and the Auggie women’s soccer locker room, named in honor of the late Claudia Murray ’24. Murray was a midfielder for Augsburg before she died in February 2022. In September, Murray’s family, friends, and teammates gathered for a ribbon-cutting ceremony to honor her.

Augsburg Now captured photos of these meaningful ceremonies and state-of-the-art spaces in the Si Melby Hall/Kennedy Center complex.

Augsburg Homecoming 2022 kicked off with the Great Returns: We’re All In all-school reunion, during which more than 450 alumni, family, and friends gathered on campus to connect with each other as well as with students, faculty, and staff. During the event, the university launched Augsburg Gives, its 2022 Give to the Max effort, and the Alumni Class Challenge.

In September 2022, Shelly Gill Murray and Brian Murray cut a ribbon to officially open the Auggie women’s soccer locker room, named in honor of their late daughter, Claudia Murray ’24. The sophomore psychology major was a midfielder for Augsburg and dreamed of becoming a child psychologist.

The Auggie women’s soccer team displays a virtual note to the Murray family in the James Haglund Family Fitness and Recreation Center, where the team’s newly renovated locker room is located. A picture of Claudia Murray greets players as they enter the space named in her honor, which also features her framed No. 14 jersey.

During Homecoming 2022, former Augsburg wrestler Kyle Wheaton ’99 addresses a crowd gathered for the ribbon-cutting of the Donny Wichmann Weight Room in the James Haglund Family Fitness and Recreation Center. Wheaton honored the legacy of the late Donny Wichmann ’89, a former Augsburg wrestler and coach.

Augsburg President Paul Pribbenow looks on as former wrestler Donny Wichmann’s wife, Mindy (Maddox) Wichmann, cuts a ribbon with Augsburg Athletic Director Jeff Swenson ’79 during the dedication of the Donny Wichmann Weight Room. Wichmann was a three-time Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference champion, a national tournament All-American, and a longtime assistant coach who was a part of 10 Augsburg NCAA Division III national championship teams.

Augsburg Athletic Director Jeff Swenson embraces Mindy Wichmann after cutting the ribbon to open the weight room in honor of her late husband, Donny Wichmann. Augsburg inducted Donny into the Athletic Hall of Fame in 2010 and the Minnesota native was inducted posthumously into the 2019 National Wrestling Coaches Association Division III Hall of Fame. In 2018, the National Wrestling Hall of Fame’s Minnesota Chapter honored Donny with the Medal of Courage.

“Donny was always the hardest-working guy in the room, and I’m just so proud of the legacy that he’s left,” Swenson said. “When I came back to Augsburg after leaving for a few years, I needed him to say he would stay. It was always a special relationship.”

During Homecoming 2022, Missy Strauch, Augsburg athletics director of sports medicine and healthcare administrator, gives alumni, students, parents, and friends a tour of the athletic training and sports medicine center in the lower level of Si Melby Hall. A 2019 renovation of the space more than tripled the size of the previous training room.“Seeing alumni circulating through the athletic venues was very heartwarming, and I received many hugs during the tours,” Strauch said. “The Auggie athletic alumni continue to give back, and I see the current generation of Auggie student-athletes benefit from that support each day. This sense of support, family and community is what makes Augsburg University Athletics so special.”

Missy Strauch, Augsburg athletics director of sports medicine, listens as alumni, students, and parents react to upgrades to the athletic training and sports medicine center. The new facility provides a spacious, state-of-the-art space for Augsburg’s sports medicine staff—a team of doctors, athletic trainers, nutritionists, chiropractors, physical therapists, and student assistants—to serve the university’s 22 intercollegiate varsity sports.“The renovation of the women’s locker room and the remodel of the sports medicine center shows the athletes how dedicated this administration and athletic department really are to student athlete well-being,” Strauch said. “It also shows how much we love to celebrate and honor our distinguished alumni in the naming of these special spaces.”

Jim Piepenburg ’72 and Kris Domke—the brother and niece of Augsburg Hall of Famer Patricia Piepenburg ’69—cut the ribbon during the dedication of the Patricia Piepenburg Women’s Locker Room during Homecoming 2022. The renovated locker room affords each of Augsburg’s 12 women’s teams their own year-round team room.

A photo of Patricia Piepenburg greets visitors entering the locker room named after the trailblazing Auggie, who was a member of the fabled “Auggiettes” women’s basketball team, which dominated local teams from the 1950s to the early ’70s. Piepenburg, who was inducted into the Augsburg Athletics Hall of Fame in 2011, graduated cum laude with a physical education degree before a 35-year career teaching and coaching basketball and track and field in Atwater, Minnesota. She died in February 2023, a few months after the locker room dedication, at age 75.

Augsburg Women’s Hockey Coach Michelle McAteer speaks with guests during a Homecoming 2022 open house of the renovated women’s locker room. Alumni spearheaded a campaign to raise $30,000 to outfit the room with audiovisual equipment, skate-resistant flooring, and custom hockey stalls and stick rack.

McAteer said the open house was “incredible.”

“Augsburg is the only school in the MIAC with two ice sheets on campus, but now, to have a locker room that is new and hockey-specific, takes the experience to another level for our student-athletes,” she said. “We had a good turnout of alums, parents, and supporters who contributed to the project. Their belief and investment in our program and commitment to making it better for the future is inspiring.”

Alumni and friends walk the halls of the newly renovated Si Melby Hall/Kennedy Center complex during Augsburg’s all-school reunion in October 2022. The locker room—now dedicated for female student-athletes—was constructed in 1979 in what was formerly a dirt-floor batting cage known as “the pit.” Prior to that time, women’s teams used the men’s visiting team locker room.

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