LOCK HAVEN - Jaynee Carolus didn't get to play high school sports at Lewistown-Granville - there weren't any.
She got to play tennis at what was then Lock Haven State College, where she also picked up her fascination for field hockey. But there was no softball for women back then.
Two years before Title IX leveled the playing field for women's athletics, she and Juniata County native Linda Detra - whom she met in college, and who recently achieved her own softball milestone - started a slow-pitch softball team at the University of Florida.
Sentinel photo by JEFF?FISHBEIN
Jaynee Carolus poses with her plaque after being Mifflin County’s first inductee into the District 6 Softball Hall of Fame Thursday at Lock Haven University during the PSBCA Vision All-Star game. Carolus currently serves as the Mifflin County softball scorekeeper.
Carolus came home to Mifflin County, and for most of four decades has been a part of the county's softball landscape. For her work in the sport, she was honored at her alma mater Thursday when she became the county's first inductee into the District 6 Softball Hall of Fame.
"I think (Mifflin County coach) Jack McCurdy nominated me, and somehow they chose me - maybe by default," she said. "I'm very happy about it. I know there are other people I think are as deserving, some of whom have passed on. I am honored - I do feel that I have given most of my life to softball."
You could say that. But that's just the tip of the iceberg.
Carolus taught health and physical education in Mifflin County for 35 years, and coached at least one and sometimes three sports each year. After starting her coaching career at Woodrow Wilson High School in Levittown, she came home to take the helm at Chief Logan High School (both varsity and JV), and when that school merged with Kishacoquillas to form Indian Valley, she ran the program its first 16 years.
More recently, she's a fixture at the scorer's table, keeping book through the end of Indian Valley's softball run and into the first year as the Huskies. She's also the scorekeeper for Mifflin County - and previously Indian Valley - field hockey.
Teams coached by Carolus won three Tri-Valley League titles, three TVL-North titles, a District 6 title, and her Indian Valley record of 199-111 includes a state tournament appearance.
"The very first year we made it to the Elite Eight in the state," she said. "Those kids loved to play the game. They didn't worry about personal stats. The kids were for each other."
The victories are not what she remembers most fondly.
"My greatest moments were just teaching life lessons to the kids in addition to softball lessons, like being good sports and being committed to what you signed up for," she said.
Carolus was a pioneer in the world of girls and women's athletics, coming of age just as the law began to recognize gender equality as an issue that applied to sports. She recalls fighting, along with the late Eileen Swineford, to see the goals of Title IX applied to sports at home while others shied away from the battle.
She said it was always her goal to see the girls brought on par with the boys, not to see the boys deprived. But she rattles off a list of the differences between the two: Boys had the chance to use the high school gym at preferential times, while girls got less desirable times and venues. Boys got more and newer equipment.
Girls, she said, had to wear the same uniforms for field hockey, basketball and softball - and there was only one set of jerseys, no home and away colors.
"Think about that, how many times those uniforms got washed in a year. And if women got new uniforms every four years it was a miracle. It has come a long way," Carolus said. "It is like night and day.
"The youngsters today have no idea what they have," she continued - for example, there were no youth or junior high teams to teach girls the basics. "We literally had to teach them how to throw and catch when I started.
"I'm happy to have been a part of it and I'm happy I maybe had a little bit of say in getting the girls of Mifflin County where they are today."
Thursday, at what is now Lock Haven University - with a softball team - Carolus said "(It makes) my little heart feel good. We've come a long way, baby.
"I'm proud to receive this award at Lock Haven knowing I got my start there," she said. "Seeing that these girls have a wonderful field hockey field, and a wonderful softball field, it makes me very proud. And happy."