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A great time to celebrate girl power in the world

Commentary

March 5, 2013
By Kellie Goodman Shaffer (sports@altoonamirror.com) , The Altoona Mirror

For the Library of Congress, along with a number of other federal institutions, March is "Women's History Month. "

It's an opportunity to celebrate contributions of courageous women throughout the United States, from Susan B. Anthony's quest for the women's vote to astronaut Sally Ride's historic space launch.

In the sports arena, it's a fitting and timely celebration as fans shoehorn their way into local gyms for high school girls' basketball playoffs. Our area boasts a long and storied history of high-level women's basketball, from prestigious preseason tournaments to championship programs which have enjoyed a fan following rivaling their male counterparts for decades.

On the college level, the Penn State women are forcing fans to pay attention to them again, winning the Big Ten regular-season title outright; the Lady Lions hosting the fourth-largest crowd in team history for their "Think Pink" game. Then Maggie Lucas earns Big Ten Player of the Year honors, and Coquese Washington her second straight Coach of the Year Award; bring on the big dance.

Across the street from the BJC, the Penn State All-Sports Museum is offering a series of special programs to celebrate the month, including a showing of the movie "The Mighty Macs," about the Immaculata Women's Basketball Team, which won three national championships from 1972-74. Among the pioneer players on the team were future college coaches Rene (Muth) Portland, Theresa (Shank) Grentz and Marianna (Crawford) Stanley.

Penn State has another tie to the film in director, Tim Chambers, brother of Nittany Lion basketball coach Pat Chambers.

The museum will also welcome two distinguished alumni during the month. Penn State's first All-American in a women's sport, gymnast Karen Schuckman (1974-79), will discuss her college experiences, as well as her quest to be part of the U.S. Olympic team.

Former Penn State club rower and Olympic bronze medalist Natalie Dell will share her inspirational story and her unlikely road to the medal stand in London.

Details about all of the museum's programs are available online at gopsusports.com/museum.

Welcome Danica

Even NASCAR, known for its good ol' boys and traditional values, is opening its arms to former Indy car driver Danica Patrick.

Certainly earning the pole and leading laps during Daytona's speed weeks were huge milestones for Patrick and women racers in general. Fans and fellow drivers seem to recognize the infusion of energy the Patrick story has provided over the last two seasons, providing the promotional shot-in-the-arm the sport needed.

Do you remember when?

From the enactment of Title IX in 1972, the world of women's sports has changed dramatically, from tennis great Billy Jean King's historic win over Bobby Riggs to the delicious menu of sports available to girls today.

Young women in high school don't remember a time when they didn't have an opportunity to participate, and that is something to celebrate.

Kellie Goodman Shaffer can be reached at kellie@bedfordcountychamber.org.

 
 
 

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