Planned Title IX Plaza in Dexter will spotlight stories of local women in sports

The Washtenaw County Parks and Recreation Commission (WCPARC), in collaboration with Huron-Clinton Metroparks and the Huron Waterloo Pathways Initiative, is seeking inspiring stories of local women in sports to feature in a planned plaza at Dexter-Huron Metropark in Dexter.

Throughout the plaza, WCPARC plans to spotlight several stories that represent the impact of Title IX, which outlawed discrimination on the basis of sex in any federally funded program, on women’s sports since it was passed into law 50 years ago. The plaza will include eight “primary nodes” featuring the stories of eight women whose contributions to the sports world helped break down barriers for women’s participation in sports, alongside a number of “secondary nodes” featuring additional stories and historical information.

“The goal for the plaza will be for visitors to learn how Title IX became a catalyst for equity and inclusion, and how it spurred a great social movement of gender equity and inclusion,”  says WCPARC communications manager Ann Ziolkowski.

The project began with a grant from the family of Karen McKeachie, a renowned Ann Arbor-based triathlete who was struck and killed by a vehicle while cycling in Lima Township in 2016.

The first woman to compete on the Dexter High School track team, McKeachie herself had a long history of breaking down barriers and defying expectations in the sports world. McKeachie once defiantly wore a homemade University of Michigan (U-M) jersey to a cross-country nationals event after her coach said she couldn't represent U-M. That jersey is now displayed in the Michigan Women’s Hall of Fame in Lansing, and Ziolkowski says McKeachie will be one of the athletes featured in the plaza. However, Ziolkowski says, McKeachie's family "doesn't want just the emphasis specifically on her."

"They wanted it to be very much inclusive of women throughout the county that were instrumental in the impact of Title IX," Ziolkowski says.

The goal, says Ziolkowski, is for visitors to understand what Title IX "has meant to women in our county, as well as nationally and globally.”

WCPARC has extended its call for story submissions through Friday, June 24. Those interested in submitting a story can do so here.

Sabine Bickford Brown is a freelance writer and editor based in Ann Arbor, Michigan. She can be reached at

Rendering courtesy of WCPARC.