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Local Coach Reflects on Impact of Title IX on Female Sports

FRANKFORT — Thursday marked the 50th anniversary of Title IX, a law that stated, “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”

Since that time, women in sports have continued to push for equal participation in sports at all levels. Frankfort’s Jaime Smith has been a factor in helping with the rise in girls wrestling in the state of Michigan.

Smith is the head coach of the Frankfort wrestling team, and she’s also the Michigan girls wrestling representative for the National Wrestling Coaches Association. With help from her and other coaches, girls wrestling has seen a rise in popularity and it became an MHSAA-sponsored sport this past year. Boyne City’s Lydia Krauss became the first local athlete to win a state title in girls wrestling through the MHSAA.

“With any profession, you know, diversity is important and equity is important,” Smith said. “So I’m excited. I’m excited about everything that’s happening. And again, I get to be a part of the new thing with wrestling. You know, that’s a big push for women’s wrestling and then empowerment for (people like) Lydia Krauss.”

On the national stage, northern Michigan had three local athletes succeed in this year’s Winter Olympics. Sault Ste. Marie’s Abby Roque won a silver medal with the USA women’s hockey team, while Boyne City’s Kaila Kuhn and Gaylord’s Winter Vinecki both competed for USA in aerial skiing.

“We have girls from Michigan that are on the world team,” Smith said. “We have women who have Olympic dreams. And to see that and then be able to chase those goals is pretty exciting.”

Smith recently helped Team Michigan place second in the Junior National Duals last week, along with a top-3 finish from the U-14 team. Those teams had five female athletes from northern Michigan.