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Title IX?on time for some, late for others/Paul Peterson

June 5, 2012
By Paul Peterson - For the Gazette , The Daily Mining Gazette

It was almost exactly 40 years ago that Title IX came into being.

But for some female athletes, the equal gender legislation came too late.

Take the case of Sandy Manning of Trout Creek. Manning was a senior at Ewen-Trout Creek High School when girls sports were finally adopted in the fall of 1972.

Manning did get to play one season of high school sports and gained All-State laurels for her stellar play.

But she missed out on probably three seasons of basketball, according to girls' basketball coaching legend Nancy Osier.

"Sandy Manning was probably as talented a basketball player as any girl I watched," Osier once told me. "She could have been one of the all-time scorers in the Upper Peninsula."

Seeing that Osier coached future U.P. Hall of Fame selections Allison Bailey and Shana DeCremer at E-TC, that's quite a testimony.

The advent of girls sports in the 1970s was quite a shock for the participants ... as well as the sports fans in the area.

Mary Schwenk and Sue Serbinski were sophomores at Houghton High when basketball was introduced.

Schwenk said the first game the Gremlins played was an adventure.

"Our uniforms were pretty primitive for one thing. Just sweatshirts with a number," she recalled a few years ago. "We were terrified going out on the court that first time."

Somehow, the Gremlins managed to pull out a win in that initial game as Schwenk and Serbinski played key roles.

By the end of the season, the novelty had worn off and the Orange and Black had a successful season.

Serbinski would go on to Northern Michigan University after graduating from high school.

She would become a key member of the Wildcats women's field hockey team - something she credited to having the chance to play sports in high school

"Without that (Title IX), there wouldn't have even been a field hockey team at Northern to play on," she said.

But local fans were slow to accept girls sports back in those days.

Numerous readers (I won't say how many) called me to ask why key girls' athletic events were getting front-page coverage.

Girls' sports, they reasoned, weren't as important as the boys.

And some of those callers, believe it or not, were women.

Such thinking is virtually non-existent today.

Athletes like Megan Kelly of Houghton and Zoe Woodworth of Calumet star in golf. And Olivia Soumis of Ontonagon and Jamie Dompier of Chassell are standouts in track. And that is just to name just a few.

If you were to ask me to grade the overall popularity of sports in the Copper Country today, I would say Calumet hockey and Houghton girls' hoops.

And I would rate them about even.

That's something I personally didn't think would ever happen, which goes to prove that nothing can ever be taken for granted.



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