BUTTE, Mont. -JoAnn Buysse was inducted into the Montana Tech Intercollegiate Athletics Hall of Fame for her years of dedicated coaching the Orediggers. She helped pioneer women's athletic at Montana Tech as the first full-time head volleyball and basketball coaches.
Despite growing up at a time when females were not allowed to participate in sports, Buysse was determined to compete. She was a member of an extramural basketball team that played in a few competitions each year.
"We had a really good team," Buysse said. "It was mostly because we had a desire to prove to others that we were just as good and deserving as the boys."
After graduating from Marshall High School, Buysse remained in Marshall, attending Southwest Minnesota State University where she took full advantage of her first real opportunity to compete in athletics.
"I was thrilled, as were most women, to get to be a part of a team and compete against all of the great universities," Buysse said.
She was a four-year letterwinner in three sports - volleyball, basketball and softball.
"I played with great athletes and against great athletes," Buysse said. "They made me a better athlete along the way."
It was here that Buysse developed an appreciation for exceptional coaching, while playing for Jeri Madden and Carmen DeKoster.
"They were knowledgeable and competitive," Buysse said "They held us accountable and responsible for our actions."
Buysse recalls a lot of fun memories and lifelong friendships that were made during her time on the teams.
"I loved being at SMSU," Buysse said, "I think my interests in sport and physical activity for persons with disabilities was planted while I was a student there."
Buysse enjoyed watching the wheelchair basketball team practice and compete.
"The student population (at SMSU) was small, but very diverse from my experiences."
Buysse graduated in 1976 with a degree in physical education and health. She was later inducted into Southwest Minnesota State's Hall of Fame as the first female student-athlete to graduate in four years while participating in athletics every quarter.
After achieving her graduate degree from Montana State University, Buysse began her coaching career at Montana Tech. In 1979, she built the volleyball program from scratch, which proved to be challenging, since the sport had yet to be introduced in Montana high schools. Buysse was also the first head coach of the women's basketball team.
While coaching, Buysse earned numerous accolades, including multiple conference championships and Coach of the Year honors. She also held a position as a professor in the applied science department and served as the assistant athletic director during her time at Montana Tech.
"I was able to find my purpose and passion in teaching and coaching," Buysse said.
She continues to teach full-time at the University of Minnesota, where she has been director of the undergraduate program in sport management for 16 years.
NOTE: Alan Dale, of the Butte, Mont., Standard, contributed to this story.