Shirley Nannini.

As of April 21, Evanston Township High School will officially have the Shirley Nannini Gymnasium, when one of the school’s second floor gyms is dedicated in her honor.

Nannini was an ETHS phys ed teacher, coach and co-athletic director during her 33 years at the school, with multiple achievements, including the first female sports administrator in school history, and also the first female ETHS coach to win a state championship (badminton, 1992).

Nannini, who also coached tennis for part of her career, is already a member of the ETHS Athletic Hall of Fame. She also received many state awards, including induction into the Illinois Girls Coaches Association Hall of Fame.

As co-athletic director, ETHS says Nannini worked with the other co-AD, Willie May, to help develop gender equity in the school’s sports program.

In a statement released Friday, the current ETHS athletic director, Chris Livatino, says “Shirley’s impact on sports at ETHS continues to be felt to this day,” as a person who “opened doors and removed barriers” for female athletes.

Livatino notes that it’s particularly appropriate to honor Nannini now, during the 50th anniversary of the passage of federal Title IX, which required major steps in sports gender equity

Following her retirement in 2010, Nannini began pursuing a lifelong love of photography, to the point that she is now executive director of Fresh Lens Chicago, a group that provides photography training for youngsters in underserved communities.

The dedication of Shirley Nannini Gymnasium will take place at 6:30 p.m. on April 21 at ETHS.

Jeff Hirsh joined the Evanston Now reporting team in 2020 after a 40-year award-winning career as a broadcast journalist in Cincinnati, Ohio.

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