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Jill Christensen inducted into SD Sports Hall of Fame

Below: Jill Christensen raises the State trophy. Courtesy photos

The South Dakota Sports Hall of Fame inducted 15 new members to its ranks on Sept. 25 at the Sioux Falls Convention Center.

Among the new inductees was former Lennox High School graduate, Jill Christensen.

Jill (Smidt) Christensen graduated in 1979 from Lennox High School and from Northwestern College in Orange City, Iowa in 1983. In high school, she was a two-time Class A 1st team All-State girls basketball player and earned four medals at the State Track Meet in the 880-yard run and the 2-mile relay. While at NWC, she was a four-year letterwinner in both Women’s Basketball and Softball and was the first female basketball player at Northwestern to score 1000 points in a career.

During her 36 years as head volleyball coach at Parker High School, Jill compiled a record of 837-266-14. She currently ranks first in wins in South Dakota volleyball history. Her teams made fourteen state tournament appearances including Parker-Marion winning the state title in 1990 and runner-up in 1991. Parker’s other showings at state include five 3rd place finishes - 2011, 2012, 2014, 2015, and 2016, two 4th place finishes - 1994 and 2010, three 5th place finishes - 1993, 2009 and 2018, a 7th place in 1995, and an 8th in 2017. Besides coaching volleyball, Christensen served as the assistant girl’s basketball coach for three years, head girls’ basketball coach for seven years, and eleven years as a track coach, three years at the junior high level and eight more as a junior high/assistant track coach.

Her coaching has garnered several awards including the Distinguished Service Award from the South Dakota High School Activities Association (SDHSAA) in 2020 and selection into the South Dakota High School Coaches Association Hall (SDHSCA) of Fame in 2016. She was also honored as a NHSACA National Coach of the Year Finalist in 2016. She received the Volleyball Coach of the Year from the SDHSCA in 1990 and Region Coach of the Year from the South Dakota Volleyball Coaches Association (SDVBCA) in 1990, 2006, 2009, 2010, 2012, 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017 and was a finalist for the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) Coach of the Year in 2010. She was inducted into the SDVBCA Hall of Fame in 2010 and the Northwestern College Hall of Fame in 1995. In 2012, she was honored with a Girls and Women in Sports Leadership Award from the SDHSAA. Jill was presented with the Pathfinder Award in 2014 from the Society for Health and Physical Educators (SHAPE) of South Dakota.

The South Dakota Sports Hall of Fame is run by a committee of about 30 volunteers from across the state. It was started by the South Dakota Sportswriters in 1969, and this year’s class brings the total of inductees to 314.

Other individuals selected for the 2022 Class include the following:

Janel Birrenkott from Lemmon was a basketball star at Northern State and shined on the national stage with the USA Deaf Team.

Bryan Brewer was a long-time Pine Ridge coach and administrator who help create the Lakota Nation Invitational events.

Doug Clark of Sioux Falls served for years as a flagman for the highest profile sprint car races in the country and becomes only the second inductee who has been inducted for motor sports.

Dr. Kathie Courtney of Aberdeen was a pioneer in the field of athletic training and has been recognized for her leadership on a national level.

Gary Evjen of Sioux Falls ended his basketball career at Northern State as the first college player to finish his career with more than 2,000 points and 1,000 rebounds.

Gene Johnson of Yankton outstanding distance runner and coach.

Dave Krauth, Augustana women’s basketball coach, has won more than 1,000 games at the college and high school levels.

Megan Mahoney of Sturgis was a four-time All-State basketball player who enjoyed a long professional career.

Bill Mathews played college football for the SDSU Jackrabbits and then seven years in the NFL and USFL.

Alan Miller led Stickney to the State B basketball title before becoming a three-time All-American at Dakota Wesleyan.

Tom Rudebusch has probably broadcast more radio play-by-play games than any person in the state. The longtime voice of South Dakota School of Mines and Technology also called more than 1,300 Rapid City Post 22 baseball games over 41 seasons.

Jeff Schemmel of Madison was the first native South Dakotan to break the four-minute mile mark in track.

Paul Tierney of Oral is a cowboy legend and is in the National Rodeo Hall of Fame.

Vince Whipple of Rapid City was an outstanding all-around athlete in Rapid City who went on to star in basketball at Huron College and became a major organizer and successful coach of athletics in West River.


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