Subscribe for 17¢ / day

Lisa Bluder, the Iowa women's basketball coach whose career began on the bench at St. Ambrose, will be presented the most prestigious award given by the Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union at the organization's upcoming state basketball tournament.

Bluder will be just the 13th individual to be presented the IGHSAU's First Lady Award when she is honored on Saturday, March 3.

The award is presented "to a daughter of Iowa — recognizing the millions of girls of the commonwealth who have carried the tradition and training of a sport into varied and important careers — and for singularly illustrious and most memorable accomplishments.''

In announcing the honor Wednesday, Jean Berger, executive director of the IGHSAU, said Bluder is "an Iowa girl whose career is a perfect example of how participation in sport influences the lives of young women in the best possible way."

The award, first presented in 1978, was last given in 2015.

Bluder called the honor one of the most significant she could receive.

"Being an 'Iowa girl' has always been special to me," Bluder said. "I am so thankful that I grew up in a state with such a rich tradition of offering girls opportunities to compete in a sport. This obviously made a significant impact on my life and career."

Bluder played six-player girls basketball at Linn-Mar High School in Marion, Iowa, from which she graduated in 1979.

She went on to become a three-year starter at Northern Iowa, from which she graduated in 1983 before becoming the head women's basketball coach at St. Ambrose in 1984.

Bluder guided the Queen Bees to a 165-36 record over six seasons from 1984-90, leading the program to four NAIA national tournament berths including Final Four berths in 1989 and 1990. Her 1990 team finished 33-1, and Bluder was named the NAIA national coach of the year.

She led the Drake program to four NCAA tourney berths between 1990-2000 and was named the Missouri Valley Conference coach of the year three times before being hired by Iowa in 2000.

In 18 seasons, Bluder has become the Hawkeyes' all-time winningest coach, compiling a 359-208 record at Iowa including a 16-6 mark as her current team prepares for a 5 p.m. game at Michigan State today.

Bluder was inducted into the St. Ambrose Athletic Hall of Fame in 1989 and the Quad-City Sports Hall of Fame in 2012.