Professor of Chemistry Nancy Peterson was presented with the Cleo Tanner Award by North Central's athletic department at the annual National Girls and Women in Sports Day Luncheon Feb. 2.
Peterson, a member of North Central's faculty since 1994, has been a faculty mentor for the Cardinals’ softball program and currently serves as the faculty mentor for the women’s basketball program. Peterson was presented with the honor by North Central women’s golf and track and field athlete Mallory Carr ’12 for “her commitment to the student-athlete’s overall experience, desire to be part of a collaborative environment where personal attention is the norm and not the exception, and belief that athletics is part of a successful collegiate experience.”
After receiving the award, Peterson addressed the luncheon crowd, speaking about her own experiences in sports and how she has applied the lessons learned through athletic participation to her own career in chemistry.
“Sports taught me how to be aggressive,” she said. “That is one of the things that has helped me in science. You have to aggressively defend your ideas. You have to ask questions and answer them, and when it all ends you still have to be friends. That kind of skill is rooted in athletics.”
Peterson also praised Title IX of the Civil Rights Act, the amendment that requires gender equity in education and athletics, for affording her and all women the opportunity to pursue their chosen fields.
“For a long time, it was pretty much accepted that women could only be nurses or teachers,” she said. “I owe a lot to Title IX for my ability to choose my own career path and make the moves that I’ve made.”
The luncheon also included a presentation by North Central student-athletes titled “Myths of Title IX,” which addressed commonly held misconceptions about Title IX.
Cleo Tanner was a physical education instructor, coach and administrator at North Central for more than 40 years and oversaw the introduction of women’s varsity athletics at the College. Peterson is the fifth recipient of the award named for Tanner since its inception in 2006.