Cindy Root Baker '69
Cindy Root Baker '69 is the first woman inducted into the Athletic Hall of Fame despite the fact that Grinnell did not offer varsity sports for women when she was enrolled. Root earned her honors as a member of the U.S. national badminton team. Grinnell College has a rich past in intramural sports dating back to the 19th century when the institution was a Pioneer in women's basketball in Iowa. Cindy participated in that tradition when she was a student, playing every sport offered except swimming. Those sports included field hockey, tennis, basketball, volleyball, badminton, and powder-puff football. She was one of the Pioneers who influenced Grinnell to develop varsity women's athletics. During her senior year she supported women's involvement in athletics in a Scarlet and Black article: "When are people going to realize that 'athlete' is not a synonym for animal, and that all 'jocks' are not male. Sports are a healthy outlet, and a safe way to ease frustration. It is a shame that because of the masculine jock image latched on many girl athletes today, a lot of girls are denied this enriching experience." Root took a leave of absence from Grinnell in 1969 to play on the U.S. national badminton team in Japan. In 1975 she won the U.S. women's singles championship. In all, she was a member of the national team three times and represented the U.S. in Japan, New Zeland, and Peru. The juxtaposition of men and women in athletics is best depicted in an annual event which occurred during Root's time at Grinnell. At halftime of the men's basketball games Cindy and all-conference football player Gene Kowert would entertain the fans with a game of badminton. An artist who has won numerous awards in national juried shows in watercolor, Cindy Root Baker is still an active athlete, participating as the oldest member of a women's ice hockey team.