Since its creation in 1974, the Women’s Sports Foundation has honored and helped nurture the careers of female athletes.

Wednesday marked the WSF’s annual National Girls and Women in Sports Day, and not many schools are better suited toward exemplifying the organization’s ideals than the University of Wisconsin.

Wisconsin women’s sports programs consistently rank among the top in the nation, most notably in hockey (4-time NCAA champions), volleyball (two-time NCAA runner up) and soccer (NCAA runner up and 17 NCAA tournament appearances).

Attendance figures for these games are also extremely high compared to national averages. Last season, Wisconsin women’s hockey brought in the second largest average crowd in NCAA women’s hockey with an average of 1,992 fans per game. During the 2015 season, Wisconsin volleyball averaged 5,046 fans per game, the third highest total for an NCAA women’s program.

In honor of National Girls and Women in Sports Day, The Badger Herald recognizes four stellar athletes:

Meghan Duggan, Women’s hockey

If there is one sport that separates Wisconsin from other collegiate programs, it’s women’s hockey.

Duggan, a former Badgers forward, played four years for the program and even took a year off during the 2009-10 season to compete in the Winter Olympics that season. She scored four goals in the tournament and helped the U.S. to a silver medal.

Now almost five years removed from her days as a Badger, Duggan captains the U.S. Women’s hockey team and again guided her teammates to a second silver medal during the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

Her international record speaks for itself, which includes those two medals alongside five gold medals from IIHF Women’s Championships dating back to 2008. Duggan was also a finalist for the WSF’s Sportswoman of the Year in 2011.

She is continuing her exceptional career as a member of the Buffalo Beauts, a National Women’s Hockey League franchise, where she hopes to give promising women’s hockey players the chance to pursue professional careers in the sport they love by helping the league grow.

Erickson: Duggan frontrunner for Kazmaier Award Yup, you guessed it, women’s hockey again. Early Thursday morning, the USA Hockey Foundation released this season’s Patty Kazmaier Memorial Read…

Lauren Carlini, Volleyball

The junior setter is possibly the most decorated women’s athlete in Badgers’ history. A three-time AVCA First-Team All-American and All-Big Ten player, two-time Big Ten Setter of the Year and NCAA Tournament runner-up, Carlini has accomplished almost everything there is for her to do.

Her Badgers teams have made three strong runs in postseason play, reaching the NCAA Tournament finals once and consistently selling out the UW Field House.

Personally, she is even narrowing in on attaining numerous UW records in total assists and assists per set going into her senior year.

Her accomplishments have been so exemplary that they’ve caught the eyes of those among the U.S. National Women’s Volleyball team’s staff.

Carlini practiced with the team for three weeks in 2014, but likely won’t be a member come the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro due to her current lack of international experience. But come 2020, the Wisconsin volleyball star could very well be among the world’s best donning red, white and blue.

Carlini, four others earn All-American honorsComing off a defeat to rival Penn State in the Elite Eight that ended their season Saturday, the Badgers accolades Read…

Rose Lavelle, Women’s soccer

At just 20 years old, not many can say they’ve accomplished what this 5-foot-4 junior has.

Lavelle was a semifinalist for the 2015 MAC Hermann Trophy, a 2015 NSCAA First-Team All-American and named 2015 Big Ten Midfielder of the Year. She was also called up to the U.S. Women’s National team to take part in four games of the World Cup victory tour this past December.

At Wisconsin, her career has been nothing but top class. Lavelle netted seven goals this past season alongside three assists, not to mention two of her goals served as game-winners.

The year was as an offensive breakout for the young midfielder and is setting her up for an interesting final season at Wisconsin.

Women’s soccer: Lavelle, unsure at start of college career, has found home at WisconsinAs a two-time all-conference selection and national player of the year candidate, it’s hard to imagine a player of Rose Read…

Annie Pankowski, Women’s hockey

Pankowski has shouldered the weight of Wisconsin women’s hockey for nearly two seasons. In that short time, the California native has tallied 87 career points (38 goals, 49 assists) and reached an NCAA Frozen Four.

The Badgers are ranked No. 2 in the country and poised for another run at the Frozen Four thanks to her production. She even helped snap an 18-game losing streak against rival Minnesota.

Pankowski was awarded 2015 USCHO Rookie of the Year honors and hopes to build off a solid start. She won gold at the 2015 IIHF Championships as part of the U.S. Women’s National hockey team and was a final cut on the 2014 Sochi Olympics team.

The experience only fueled her fire, though, as she’s gone on to a prolific career in the NCAA.

It’s likely only a matter of time before she finds herself back with the Olympic team.

Women’s hockey: Pankowski chasing Olympic dreamsWisconsin women’s hockey player Annie Pankowski was sitting in a science class at the North American Hockey Academy when she Read…