Halle Kilburg

Halle Kilburg

Marquette Catholic High School senior Halle Kilburg was recently selected as a finalist for the E. Wayne Cooley Scholarship.

Kilburg was one of six senior females across the state of Iowa who were invited to the IGHSAU to compete as a finalist in the scholarship program.

Although she did not win overall, she will be a recipient of a $1,000 finalist scholarship.

The name Dr. E. Wayne Cooley has become synonymous with girls’ high school sports in Iowa. Dr. Cooley’s vision and leadership helped advance female sports in both the state and the country. In fact, during Dr. Cooley’s tenure, the IGHSAU became the nation’s trailblazer in the development of girls’ interscholastic athletic programs.

In 1954, Dr. Cooley became the executive secretary of IGHSAU, which embraced just one interscholastic activity at the time — basketball. In the following 48 years under Dr. Cooley’s leadership, IGHSAU expanded to include track and field, cross country, softball, golf, swimming, tennis, volleyball and soccer, with many of those programs flourishing well before Title IX legislation. A 1973 Sports Illustrated cover story on the limited access girls had in athletics during the Title IX passage used Iowa and the IGHSAU as a model of equality for girls and women in sports.

Dr. Cooley’s success is the most synonymous with the Iowa Girls High School State Basketball Tournament. He turned the six-day March tournament into one of Iowa high schools’ most beloved annual events. The tournament has been televised since 1951 and was seen in as many as nine states by 1968.

In addition to outstanding basketball, the tournament is also famous for its brilliant entertainment shows at halftime and between games. The tournament’s popularity was featured in two different Sports Illustrated photo essays, one in 1969 and one in 1988. The tournament has also been the subject of features stories by USA Today, Chicago Tribune, Newsday, ESPN and NPR.