Mink, Kai, Wilkins highlight 2011 UH Sports Circle of Honor

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The University of Hawaii's Sports Circle of Honor was announced Wednesday and three women headline this year's class. The late Patsy Mink, Natasha Kai, and Brooke Wilkins will be officially announced as the Class of 2011 inductees at a media luncheon Friday, Oct. 21 at the Stan Sheriff Center.

The female dominant class coincides with the University of Hawaii's 40th anniversary of Women's Athletics.

The first Asian-American woman elected to Congress, the late Patsy Takemoto Mink championed the Title IX Amendment of the Higher Education Act, which opened the door of opportunity for female athletes throughout the country.

A 1948 graduate of the University of Hawai'i, she received her law degree from the University of Chicago before returning to her home state to open her own law practice and teach at UH. Mink served two six-year terms as a U.S. Representative and also was the first woman and Asian-American to run for U.S. President in 1972.

Natasha Kai is considered the greatest player in Rainbow Wahine soccer history. Upon completion of her four-year career, she held virtually every offensive school record.

She was the UH's first All-American in 2003 and the first player in Western Athletic Conference history to be named three-time league player of the year. She followed up a WAC Freshman of the Year season by leading the nation in goals scored as a sophomore.

Following UH, she became the first female player from Hawai'i to be selected to the U.S. National team and won a gold medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. She is a veteran of the Women's Professional Soccer League and in 2008, helped Sky Blue FC to the championship.

In just two seasons with the Rainbow Wahine, Brooke Wilkins left her mark as the most dominant pitcher in the program's history. She was a two-time All-American and led Hawai'i to back-to-back NCAA Regional appearances in 1994 and 1995.

As a freshman, she led the Rainbow Wahine to a 51-14 record, their first-ever Big West Conference championship, and a No. 7 national ranking. In 1995, she earned her second Big West Pitcher of the Year award and became the program's first NFCA first-team All-American with another 29-win season. She led UH to within two wins of its first Women's College World Series appearance.

Once rated as one of the fastest pitchers in the world, Wilkins represented Australia in three Olympics, winning bronze in 1996 and 2000 and silver in 2004. Upon completion of her international career, she was inducted into the Softball Australia Hall of Fame in 2008.

This is the 30th group to be enshrined, a tradition which started in 1982 to recognize individuals and teams that have contributed to the growth, history and tradition of UH Athletics.

The total number of inductees in the Circle of Honor is 96, including this year's honorees. Ten teams have also been enshrined. Plaques honoring the individuals and teams are anchored on the inner walls surrounding the main concourse of the Stan Sheriff Center.

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