It was a year ago this week that Jaynee Carolus was inducted into the District 6 softball hall of fame, coincidentally as the sports world was marking the 40th anniversary of Title IX.
Two more Mifflin County women are on the cusp of being honored, and a senior from the district champion Huskies is preparing to take part in this year's all-star game.
And schools in the Keystone State are about to be held accountable for their compliance with the equal rights provision that affects recipients of federal funds.
There's no question that Title IX has been abused - see any of the hundreds of men's sports teams that have been disbanded as a result of the landmark law as examples. Title IX was supposed to provide opportunity to women, not take it away from men - but the way various federal agencies interpret Title IX, as a de facto quota system, has had a huge impact on men's sports, mainly at the collegiate level.
It's neither the fault of athletes nor educators that spectator interest level just isn't there for women's sports. An easy comparison is the NBA and its sister league, the WNBA. The male team that has the worst attendance still draws nearly twice as many fans as the WNBA's league average, which has dropped steadily since the women's game came into being in 1999.
But in school, it's not about how many fans are there. It's about how many people want to play, and accommodating them equally.
And even though we've come a long way, baby, there's still plenty of room to grow.
Softball and Mifflin County provide an excellent example of that - the facilities that the girls have are good, but pale in comparison to what the school district provides for the boys.
The baseball field at Mifflin County has an outfield fence and foul poles. The dugouts are made of cinderblock and enclosed. And, thanks to the generosity of the Yeagertown Fire Co., the field now has a brand-new, inning-by-inning lighted scoreboard.
It's not quite the same on the back lot at Highland Park.
The softball field has no fence. The girls sit on open benches. If there's a scoreboard, it's because someone hauled the portable clock from soccer and field hockey up to the field.
High schools have largely escaped the worst of Title IX to date, but that could change thanks to a state law that mandates compliance reporting, which went into effect for the school year just completed. Act 82 requires schools to report interscholastic athletic opportunities and treatment for male and female secondary school students to the state Department of Education, and the first report is due in October.
Among the things districts must report to the state are the facilities used by teams, not just for competition but for practice as well.
That reminds me of last fall, when Mifflin County's girls soccer team had to play on an alternate, grass field in the rain at Cedar Cliff, because the Colts' football team didn't want to practice on grass under those conditions - so the boys got to use the district's artificial turf field.
Mifflin County School District should be thankful that the first of the annual reports it must submit doesn't have to declare the donated baseball scoreboard - contributions become part of the picture next year.
But the district should also be asking whether its obligation to its female students is being met under Title IX when an equivalent boys team clearly has better facilities.
It's a one-word question: Equal?
Congratulations to Lewistown graduate Ang Rocco and Indian Valley product Amanda Wilson, who will join Carolus in the hall of fame Thursday. Taylor Boyer, a member of this year's Mifflin County squad, will take part in an all-star game pitting players from Districts 4 and 6 that evening at Lock Haven University. First pitch is slated for 5:30 p.m.
Jeff Fishbein is sports editor of The Sentinel. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.