Breaking the barrier
PCHS opens new women’s athletics exhibit
By Jacob Heid
PLOVER – After months of hard work and dedication, a truly incredible story came to life on the grounds of Heritage Park in Plover.
The exhibit, We Just Wanted to Play: The Story of Women’s Athletics in Portage County, showcases the history of athletes around the county from roughly the time of Title IX to now.
Title IX was a significant stepping stone in women’s rights, including the right to participate in athletics with no boundaries to hold them back.
After completing a few other exhibits, Portage County Historical Society committee members (Sue Koehl, Shelly Johnson, Cherith Bevers, Colleen Glodowski, Kitty Munck, Jane Elliott, Lorry Walters, Paul Koehl and Tim Siebert) looked in a different direction for the next story to tell.
“A pivot to a more current, even though it’s already 50 years old, a pivot seemed a real appropriate way to acknowledge the growth in women’s athletics,” Johnson said.
It took over a year of brainstorming and collecting stories, but the finished product is something the Historical Society is proud of.
With all the talented former and current teams and individuals, the exhibit showcases it all.
“As we started looking into it, we realized we had a phenomenal story to tell,” Koehl (Sue) said. “We didn’t know it at first because we were thinking that it would be more of a static exhibit. As we started working, we realized that it was a true story. There was so much to tell.”
The exhibit highlights Portage County women’s athletic trailblazers, including the late Marge Spring, Judie Janquardt (SPASH girls’ basketball 1980 championship coach), Nancy Page (UW-Stevens Point field hockey coach), Marcy Mirman (1986 SPASH softball championship coach), Lynda Schrader, Deb Vercauteren (UW-Stevens Point track and field), Sheila Miech (UW-Stevens Point women’s soccer coach) and Stephanie Hauser.
The stories continue to more recent athletes, including Roshin Willis, former SPASH, now Stanford track and field star.
As you walk to the upper level, it showcases all current Portage County girls’ athletic teams, including boards of accomplishments throughout the building for each school’s team sport.
A grand opening of the Title IX exhibit was held on Jun. 1, which many trailblazers and other celebrated athletes and coaches attended.
Janel McCarville and Margaret Domka, former SPASH basketball and soccer stars, were both in attendance.
Both turned to the world stage, with McCarville becoming a EuroLeague champion on top of being a WNBA champion and Domka being a FIFA referee from 2007-16, including refereeing the 2015 Women’s World Cup in Canada.
The special night celebrated not only how far women’s athletics have come but the drive of the individuals that had to break the barrier to come this far.
Miech couldn’t think of a better gathering to attend.
“It couldn’t have gone to a better social gathering that meant more to me than last evening,” she stated. “The memories that [the committee] has created for the next generation will truly be appreciated.”
The exhibit is open to the public this summer on Fridays from 12 to 5 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; free admission is available.