Denver-born Joan Birkland has been blessed with remarkable athletic talent. In school she went beyond what was expected of girls in sports. As a competetive athlete, she excelled in tennis, golf, and basketball. Her basketball career began in college when there were very few women’s teams. She played on an AAU basketball team called the Denver Viners.
Birkland carried her love of sports into her adult life. Twice she held the state golf and tennis titles simultaneously. She has won more than a dozen state tennis crowns, and for over 10 years was one of Colorado’s dominant female golfers. Between 1960 and 1966 she won no fewer than seven Colorado golf championships.
Continuing to excel as an athlete and an organizer, Birkland is a local and national leader in promoting girls and women as athletes and in sporting events. She has been inducted into the Colorado Golf Hall of Fame, and the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame, and presently serves on their boards.
In addition, she serves on such volunteer boards as the U. S. Golf Association Women’s Committee, First Data Corp. Colorado Open, and the National Girls and Women in Sports, among others. She continues to lead by example and has built on that reputation to position herself in leadership roles.
She has been the Executive Director of the Sportswomen of Colorado board for almost 20 years. This organization has recognized hundreds of Colorado girls and women athletes and women who have shown excellence through their contributions to sports and coaching.
Not only has Birkland been accepted into this primarily male bastion, but she has risen to national leadership status. She initiates opportunities to provide input and open new horizons for women in sports. Recently, she was recognized in Golf magazine for her contribution and leadership in women’s golf, and was named person of the year by the Sportswomen of Colorado.
Birkland and her husband, Ormand, make their home in Denver.
Books containing reference to Joan Birkland
History of Colorado’s Women for Young People
Women of Consequence: The Colorado Women’s Hall of Fame