In 2000, a shy kid from Hutchinson, Minnesota, named Lindsay Whalen—you know where this is going— made her way to the Twin Cities to attend the University of Minnesota. You can see Whalen’s Gopher bobblehead and other memorabilia from her college basketball career as (now-retired) No. 13 at the T. Denny Sanford Athletics Hall of Fame at the University of Minnesota’s TCF Bank Stadium. More than just an homage to the Big 10 football-basketball-hockey juggernaut that gets most of the headlines, the 5,000-squarefoot hall is a celebration of what it means to be a college student athlete, coach, and fan.
Open to the public on a limited basis and to ticket holders on game days, this little-known attraction is crammed with U history. There are trophies galore, of course. But the items that hold your attention and really tell the stories of the college sports experience are more prosaic. There’s baseball coach Dick Siebert’s score books from the five seasons when the Gophers went to the College World Series and the mustard-colored wool leggings worn by wrestlers in 1946. And there are the beaten-up cleats used by quarterback Adam Weber, who started 50 consecutive football games during his college career. There are leotards and Speedos and tennis racquets and oars and deflated basketballs and footballs, each accompanied by an explanation that puts it into the greater context of Gopher sports.
And there are megaphones, buttons, maroon-and-gold letter sweaters, and other mementos of cheerleading and fandom. There’s even an explanation of the U’s famous “Rah! Rah! Rah! for Ski-U-Mah,” rouser, which was written in 1884, after a U rugby captain heard fans cheering for a canoe race on Lake Pepin. “Minnesota, hats off to thee!”
Adapted from Elizabeth Foy Larsen's 111 Places in the Twin Cities That You Must Not Miss.
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