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Connie Thorngren

1940 - 2017
Connie Thorngren Obituary
Connie M. Thorngren
Connie M. Thorngren, 77, of Boise passed away at her home on October 1, 2017, after a sudden illness.
Connie was born May 15, 1940, in Moore, Idaho to Lola and Rueben Jensen. She attended Moore elementary schools and graduated from Butte County High School in 1958. Following graduation she continued her education at Utah State University and graduated from Idaho State University in 1966 with a bachelor's degree in physical education.
Connie married Larry Thorngren in 1962 and their daughter, Cindy, was born in 1963. The couple later divorced.
Connie taught at Franklin Junior High School in Pocatello, before moving to Boise where she taught physical education at East Junior High and later at Boise High School. She came to Boise State after earning a master's degree in physical education at Central Washington State College.
Connie joined the faculty at Boise State College in the fall of 1970 and pioneered competitive team sports for women at the college. Before her arrival, intramural games and sport days were the rule in the women's program. There were no sanctioned sports for women at Boise State. There were no uniforms, no equipment, no locker rooms, no practice facilities, and no money. All that existed was the idea that women should have the opportunity to be student-athletes just like the men.
That idea began to become a reality when Connie Thorngren came to Boise State. Although it was an unpaid position, Connie coached field hockey, volleyball, basketball, and track and field as well as teaching full-time in the Physical Education Department. In the early days of women's sports, funding was limited, if not non-existent. However, because of their desire to compete, the athletes made sacrifices and often contributed their own money to pay for a variety of expenses, including officials, lodging, gas, etc.
Thorngren had a very successful coaching career at Boise State. Her field hockey teams won 75 matches, tied nine, and lost six, a remarkable record considering Thorngren and her players knew very little about the game when she began coaching in 1970. In fact, coach and team traveled to the College of Idaho prior to the start of their season in order to see an actual field hockey game. After that initial season, Boise State became one of the top teams in Northwest field hockey.
Thorngren also developed winning teams in basketball, posting a 179-121 career record. In 1970, her first basketball team won the championship in the Northwest Small College Tournament at Washington State University. In 1975, Boise State won the Northwest Large College Tournament and attended the AIAW National Tournament at Madison College in Harrisburg, Virginia. Boise State was one of only 16 teams that competed at this event.
In 1974, Thorngren gave up coaching volleyball and track and field and became the first Women's Athletic Director at Boise State. In 1978, she resigned from athletic administration and focused full-time on basketball until her retirement in 1983 and her return to full-time teaching.
After her retirement, Connie continued to be an advocate on behalf of women's sports, focusing her efforts on the implementation of Title IX, increasing the number of women coaches and encouraging the continued development of girls' and women's athletics.
Connie retired from Boise State in December, 2000. She loved gardening and created very beautiful flower gardens at her home in Boise. She also loved to travel, which she did extensively in the US, as well as traveling to Italy, Africa, China, the Danube, the Baltic, as well as Mexico and Hawaii. She met many wonderful people and loved having the opportunity to learn about their culture and lives. Ironically, she had just returned from a long-awaited trip to the British Isles, when she received a diagnosis of leukemia.
She is survived by her life-partner Barbara Eisenbarth, her daughter Cindy Thorngren (Walt Fennell) and her grandson Jered Fennell, her brother Jack Jensen (Diana) and numerous nieces and nephews. Connie was preceded in death by her grandparents, mother, father and one brother.
A Celebration Of Her Life will be held October 12, 2017, at 2:00 PM at the Boise State Hall of Fame, located in Albertson Stadium.
In lieu of flowers, you may donate to the BSU Women's Basketball Endowed Scholarship, c/o The Bronco Athletic Association, 1910 University Drive, Boise, ID 83725, or to .
Published in Idaho Statesman from Oct. 5 to Oct. 8, 2017
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