Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Heroux retires after 45 years and 602 wins as Belfast wrestling coach

By Ernie Clark, BDN Staff

Ted Heroux
Ted Heroux
BELFAST, Maine — One of Maine’s legendary high school wrestling coaches has turned in his whistle after 45 years, opting instead to play with trucks.
Well, not exactly.
Ted Heroux, who has guided the Belfast Area High School wrestling team since 1967, decided just before the start of the season not to return for one more winter after a recent visit with his cardiologist.
“I’ve had some health problems and my energy had been pretty low so I decided it was a good time to step away,” said the 70-year-old Heroux.
One of Heroux’s former state championship wrestlers, Rick Kelley, has taken over as the Lions’ head coach, aided by veteran assistant coach Keith Holland and Travis Spencer, who became the first Belfast wrestler to win four individual state championships while wrestling under Heroux between 2006 and 2009.
“That’s a good group of coaches,” Heroux said. “They should have a pretty good year.”
As for Heroux’s future, he’ll continue to be around the sport, taping and offering color commentary for weekend meets that will be broadcast on a local cable access television channel.
He’ll also spend more time indulging in his hobby of rebuilding trucks, specifically 1962 Chevrolet pickups. Heroux already has reserved the one he’s currently working on for his great-granddaughter, 3-year-old Kaeyln.
“By the time she gets ready to drive it will be waiting for her,” said Heroux.
Provided Heroux is as successful rebuilding Kaelyn’s pickup truck as he’s been as a wrestling coach, it should be quite the hot rod.
Heroux guided the Belfast wrestling program to a 602-168-3 record, eight Class B state championships, six state runner-up finishes, 11 Eastern Maine Class B titles and 13 Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference championships.
“It’s a huge loss,” said Belfast athletic administrator Mark Babin, whose school also recently lost 40-year varsity field hockey coach Allen Holmes to retirement. “Teddy’s had a tremendous impact on wrestling in Eastern Maine over the years.”
Heroux, a 1961 Belfast graduate, played football, basketball, baseball and track and field at his alma mater. He also was an active boxer while growing up, winning a Golden Gloves championship in the welterweight division.
Heroux was introduced to wrestling while in college, and not long after graduating he took over the wrestling program at Belfast.
Heroux was a five-time KVAC coach of the year and a three-time Maine coach of the year honoree, and he coached three New England champions — his grandson Kote Aldus, Dennis Sprague and Brent Waterman. Sprague won the 132-pound state title in 1972, Aldus the 160-pound crown in 2008 and Waterman the 132-pound championship in 2012.
Heroux also coached 71 individual state champions from Belfast, including another grandson, Kornealius Wood, who won the 171-pound Class B title in both 2009 and 2011.
“I’ve had a lot of good memories,” he said. “I had a great chance to coach both grandsons, it doesn’t get much better than that as far as family and coaching goes.”
He guided Belfast to Class A state championships in 1969 and 1970 and Class B titles in 1986, 1987, 1994, 1995, 2008 and 2009.
“I’ve had some great wrestlers, but it takes a group of great wrestlers to win a state championship,” said Heroux, who also served as an assistant football coach at Belfast for 25 years.
Heroux was a 1999 inductee into the Maine Amateur Wrestling Alliance Hall of Fame and last March was inducted into the New England High School Wrestling Hall of Fame.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Mixed martial arts fighter Ray Wood to make professional debut against John Raio

By Ernie Clark, BDN Staff

LEWISTON, Maine — Two of the state’s more popular amateur mixed martial arts fighters will make their professional debuts against each other next month at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee.
Ray “All Business” Wood, a former three-sport standout at Bucksport High School, will take on John “First Class” Raio of Topsham in a featherweight (145-pound) bout announced Monday as part of the Fight Night V card being staged by New England Fights on Nov. 17.
“It should be a great fight,” said Ernie Fitch, co-owner and manager at Young’s MMA in Bangor where Wood trains. “Raio has a huge fan following, and everyone loves to watch Ray fight. I can’t wait for it.”
Wood (4-1) is ranked third among amateur fighters in his weight class by entering a bout slated for Friday night in Derry, N.H., against top-ranked Sophanarith “Soap” Am (4-0) of Braintree, Mass.
Wood and Am were scheduled to meet at Fight Night IV in Lewiston last month but an injury forced Am to back out of the fight.
Wood has not fought since dropping a unanimous decision in mid-April to Shane Manley of the Ithaca, N.Y.-based Team Bombsquad at Fight Night II in Biddeford. In that bout, Wood had to move up in weight to fight the bigger Manley at a catchweight of 150 pounds.
“I really feel for Ray,” said NEF co-owner and matchmaker Matt Peterson. “I know how badly he’s wanted the best fights to challenge himself this year. And I know firsthand just how difficult it’s been to match him with the reputation he has as a competitor. He’s had several opponents pull out on him on NEF cards for various reasons. I understand that was one of his major considerations when deciding to turn pro.”
The 35-year-old Raio, a former Maine high school wrestling champion while attending Gardiner Area High School and now a postal worker in Portland, began his amateur MMA career last February at NEF’s Fight Night I and has won all four of his previous bouts in Fight Night promotions.
“When I decided to turn pro, the opportunity to fight Ray Wood presented itself,” said Raio, who trains at MMAAthletix in Bath. “I am excited to test my skills against one of the best fighters in the Northeast.”
Raio most recently scored a unanimous decision victory over Damon Owens — a Young’s MMA teammate of Wood — at Fight Night IV held Sept. 8.
“Over the course of the past year, John Raio and Ray Wood have been the standouts of the NEF amateur ranks,” stated NEF co-owner and promoter Nick DiSalvo. “They are probably our two most popular fighters with the fans. I can think of no better way to end our inaugural year as a promotion than with a bout of this magnitude. This is the No. 3-ranked amateur featherweight in the Northeast [Wood] facing the NO. 10-ranked amateur featherweight [Raio]. This fight will set the stage for the NEF pro 145-pound division in 2013.”
Other bouts scheduled on the Fight Night V card include battles to crown the inaugural NEF Maine State MMA pro champions in the lightweight and bantamweight divisions.
The lightweight (155-pound) title bout will match Windham native Jamie Harrison (4-1) against undefeated New Yorker Dez Green (5-0), while the clash for the bantamweight (135-pound) crown will feature Portland’s Paul Gorman (9-9) against Adam Toussaint (5-4) of North Berwick.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Rumford MMA fighter Peterson secures New England middleweight crown

By Ernie Clark, BDN Staff

Jesse Peterson from Central Maine BJJ celebrates after winning his title match against Cody Lightoot at Saturday night's New England Fights Fight Night IV at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee in Lewiston.
Russ Dillingham | Sun Journal
Jesse Peterson from Central Maine BJJ celebrates after winning his title match against Cody Lightoot at Saturday night's New England Fights Fight Night IV at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee in Lewiston. 
Jesse Peterson lands a barrage of blows to the head of Cody Lightfoot at Saturday night's New England Fights Fight Night IV at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee in Lewiston. Peterson won the title bout.
Russ Dillingham | Sun Journal
Jesse Peterson lands a barrage of blows to the head of Cody Lightfoot at Saturday night's New England Fights Fight Night IV at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee in Lewiston. Peterson won the title bout. 
Jon Lemke from Team Irish of Bangor connects with a left to Nate Oses of Wai Kru MMA Gym of Boston during Saturday night's New England Fights Fight Night IV at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee in Lewiston.
Russ Dillingham | Sun Journal
Jon Lemke from Team Irish of Bangor connects with a left to Nate Oses of Wai Kru MMA Gym of Boston during Saturday night's New England Fights Fight Night IV at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee in Lewiston. 
Damon Owens (back) from Young's MMA and John Raio of MMA Athletix mix it up at Saturday night's New England Fights Fight Night IV at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee in Lewiston.
Russ Dillingham | Sun Journal
Damon Owens (back) from Young's MMA and John Raio of MMA Athletix mix it up at Saturday night's New England Fights Fight Night IV at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee in Lewiston. 
Jesse Erickson of Auburn takes a punch to the throat by RJ Letendre of Somersworth, N.H., during their bout at Saturday night's New England Fights Fight Night IV at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee in Lewiston. Letendre won with a TKO in the first round.
Russ Dillingham | Sun Journal
Jesse Erickson of Auburn takes a punch to the throat by RJ Letendre of Somersworth, N.H., during their bout at Saturday night's New England Fights Fight Night IV at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee in Lewiston. Letendre won with a TKO in the first round. 
LEWISTON, Maine — Mixed martial arts and road racing seem like strange athletic bedfellows, but the combination of those two contrasting disciplines helped provide Rumford’s Jesse Peterson the stamina he needed to become a champion.
Peterson, put on the defensive early in his match against Cody Lightfoot of South Berwick for the New England Fights Maine state middleweight (185-pound) crown, used a stunning turnaround late in the second round to win the title belt in the main event of Saturday night’s Fight Night IV before 3,200 fans at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee.
“There’s no two ways around the fact that he kicked the crap out of me for pretty much every second of that fight until the end,” said Peterson. “But you just can never give up.”
The bout was one of two NEF championship fights headlining that promotion’s fourth fight card of the year in Maine, with Brazilian Gil de Freitas winning its Maine state welterweight (170-pound) crown with a unanimous decision over “The” Ryan Sanders of Brewer.
Peterson (7-2) and Lightfoot (6-4) had a competitive history that dated to their days a decade ago as high school wrestlers in the same weight class, Peterson at Mountain Valley of Rumford and Lightfoot at Marshwood of South Berwick.
So it was no surprise when their MMA title bout almost immediately went to the mat, with Lightfoot controlling most of the action through the first of five scheduled 5-minute rounds and into the second round.
But Peterson, the brother of NEF co-owner and matchmaker Matt Peterson, maintained his composure and used his fitness to stay ready to take advantage of any opportunity that might arise — a tribute not only to his background in boxing, wrestling and ju-jitsu, but also to a more recent commitment to running.
“I took it upon myself to run some 5K races this year,” he said, “and I got my weight down so I didn’t have to cut a lot of weight like I have in the past. It helped, for sure.”
Peterson’s opportunity came late in the second round, when he used the cage to sweep from a position on his back to a full mount. When Lightfoot reacted, Peterson saw an opening and quickly applied a rear naked choke that forced his opponent to tap out with 13 seconds left in the period.
“Going into the fight I knew it was going to be extremely tough and it was,” said Peterson. “But I didn’t want to walk out of this fight thinking, ‘Good fight, but I could have done this or I could have done that,’ so I never gave up.
“Then finally I saw the chance for a choke and I just squeezed with everything I had.”
A late replacement in the NEF welterweight title bout for Ricardo Funch, a former UFC competitor who was injured in a motorcycle accident, de Freitas proved to be too strong for Sanders.
The taller and leaner Sanders (4-2) hoped to wear down de Freitas over the course of the match, but that never happened as the more experienced Brazilian fighter (14-5) worked successfully from the top throughout the bout and won all five rounds on two of the three judges’ scorecards.
“He was tough as nails,” said Sanders. “His ground game was a lot stronger, and I didn’t stick to our game plan. I didn’t move, I stood right in front of him per usual.
“But it’s a learning curve. That guy had a lot of experience, he had as many losses as I had fights total. It’s just a minor setback, I’ll go back to the drawing board and I’ll bounce back.”
The 21-fight card, which lasted nearly six hours, featured four other professional bouts as well as 15 amateur matches.
Windham native Jamie Harrison defeated Josh Parker of Littlefield’s Gym in Oakland by rear naked choke 1:35 into the first round of their NEF lightweight (155-pound) elimination match, while Dez “The Predator” Green of Team Bombsquad in Ithaca, N.Y., ended the three-match winning streak of Brewer’s Bruce Boyington — a teammate of Sanders’ at Young’s MMA in Bangor — with a head-and-arm choke good for a second-round tapout victory in their lightweight clash.
Another Team Bombsquad fighter, Darrius Heylinger, scored a second-round victory via unanswered strikes over Josh Bellows of Littlefield’s Gym, while Jon Lemke of Team Irish MMA Fitness Academy in Brewer made a successful pro debut with a unanimous decision over Nate Oses of Boston in a 155-pound bout staged nearly entirely off the mat.
“My goal was to stick and move,” said Lemke. “I kind of knew he wanted to stand up and had heard he was a banger, so I wanted to stick and move and not just stand there and trade with him.”
Lemke’s Team Irish teammate, Andrew Hughes, improved his amateur record to 4-1 by applying an arm bar that forced Tim Tucker to tap out just 20 seconds into their welterweight matchup.
“I went out there throwing some punches and I let him get a little too close to me, and he ended up getting me down on the ground,” said Hughes. “But he left his arm down there and I just snapped it up and immediately went for the win. I don’t hold anything back.”
Team Irish stablemates Greg Morse, Will McCall and Kris Kramer also were victorious in their amateur bouts.
And John “First Class” Raio, the popular postal worker from Topsham, scored his fourth straight win with a hard-fought unanimous decision over Damon Owens of Young’s MMA. Raio used his strength to take the match to the ground during the first two rounds, then shook off a game striking effort by Owens over the final three minutes to remain unbeaten.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Boetsch named to state wrestling hall of fame

Current UFC middleweight contender Tim Boetsch has been honored for the early stages of his competitive career, recently being inducted into the Maine Amateur Wrestling Alliance Hall of Fame.

The Lincolnville native, who now lives in Subway, Pa., was a four-time Class B individual state champion while attending Camden-Rockport High School in Rockport as well as a four-time Eastern Maine champion and a two-time Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference titlist.
He finished with a 146-6 career high school record, and placed fourth in his weight class at the National High School Coaches Association Senior National Championships. He also was named to the Amateur Wrestling News All-American team.
Boetsch went on to wrestle collegiately at Lock Haven (Pa.) University before turning his attention to mixed martial arts.
The 31-year-old Boetsch currently is one of the hottest middleweights (185-pound limit) in the UFC, having won four straight fights since dropping down from the light heavyweight (205-pound) ranks.
He most recently earned a decision over Hector Lombard at UFC 149 in Calgary, Alberta, last month to improve his overall record to 15-4 while ending Lombard’s 25-fight unbeaten streak.
Boetsch currently is recovering from a broken foot he suffered during that bout.
Joining Boetsch as members of the MAWA Hall of Fame Class of 2012 are longtime Noble of North Berwick wrestling coach Kip DeVoll and Fryeburg native and nationally recognized coach John Gordon.
DeVoll, a Noble graduate, has been the Knights’ head coach since 1986 and guided the program to 14 Class A state championships — including a run of nine straight from the late 1990s into the 2000s.
Gordon wrestled for Fryeburg Academy and Plymouth State before entering the coaching ranks, in which he was selected as Wrestling USA Magazine’s 2011 National High School Coach of the Year.
His coaching career includes stops at Fryeburg Academy, Dublin (N.H.) High School, New Hampton (N.H.) School and the Wyoming Seminary in Kingston, Pa., where his teams won four straight Pennsylvania prep state championships from 2007 to 2010 and finished as the runner-up at the national prep tournament in 2007, 2009 and 2010.
Gordon has coached at St. Christopher’s School in Richmond, Va., for the last two years.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Olympics wrestling controversy just part of the confusion

By Tom Beer

Recently, fellow PopCult blogger Erica Marcus bemoaned the demise of the straightforward 10-point judging system in gymnastics, making the sport less dramatic for the viewer at home. I agree — but at least with gymnastics an unschooled eye can see when the gymnast has performed with grace and confidence and avoided awkward mistakes. You don’t need to be an Olympic judge to recognize a shaky performance.
Likewise with so many of the most popular events of the summer games — swimming, diving, track, etc. — the drama is clear-cut and stark, the triumphs instantaneous and self-evident. Who crossed the finish line first? Who dove into the pool cleanly, with minimum splash? When Usain Bolt wins the 100-meter and 200-meter races, you instinctually cheer, because there isn’t a human alive who couldn’t recognize his victory. It’s primal.
Freestyle wrestling, by contrast, is just bewildering for the nonfan. This afternoon I settled in to watch the quarterfinal competition. Now there is something pleasingly Olympic about wrestling. It reeks of antiquity, and we might be watching two grapplers come to life off an ancient Greek vase. Wikipedia tells us that wrestling has been an Olympic event since at least the Olympiad of 704 B.C. The sport has a pedigree.
But this satisfaction quickly gave way to bewilderment. With all the twists and reversals it was difficult to tell who was thrashing whom. How on earth were the points being scored? It was like watching a foreign film without subtitles. True, the NBC commentators kept explaining what was going on, but I couldn’t relate it to what I was seeing on-screen.
Now maybe I’m just dim. But the sport does seem to have a certain amount of confusion built in. And during the quarterfinals of the men’s freestyle 185 lb. class, it wasn’t just me. American Jake Herbert was going head to head against Sharif Sharikov of Azerbaijan. (Just as the Jamaicans rule the track events, the Azerbaijanis seem to have a headlock on wrestling.) During the match there ensued what one commentator called a "rolling scramble," and when it was over, no one seemed to agree on what had happened and what the score was. The judges watched a replay, and frankly, they looked as confused as I felt. But they ruled that the score was 6-0, Sharikov. What?!
The U.S. coach, Zeke Jones, bounded out onto the mat to object. He wound up being handed a yellow card by a ref, and that at least was unambiguous: not good. The judges held to their score, and Sharikov claimed a spot in the semifinals. (He went on to win the gold medal in his weight class.) Jake Herbert and Coach Jones didn’t look too happy, and I wasn't too satisfied either. Maybe I just need to watch more wrestling to get the hang of it. But with the freestyle competition over in London, I guess I’ll just set myself an alert for the 2016 games.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

The rights of men in college sports

Title-IX and reverse discrimination
By Perry Cook.
During World War II, 100,000 Asian-Americans, especially those of Japanese descent, were segregated from the general population and thrown into work camps, Relocation Centers, Assembly Centers, Citizen Isolation Camps, and Justice Department Internment Camps.
They were denied the agency which had been promised in the Constitution of the United States. They were held behind barbed wire and forced to work mostly as farm laborers. They were removed from their belongings and sent hundreds or even thousands of miles from their homes and some were never allowed to return. (Iritani, Frank and Joanne) Although they were eventually released, they had been discriminated against, in this case because of race, or the way they looked. Although the Japanese probably should have been reimbursed for their injuries, they never were. Recently, the U. S. Congress provided $1.2 billion for the progenitors of these prisoners, even if they were only 1/16th related to a former detainee. (University of Arizona Library, WRA Exhibit — Building the Relocation Camps.) That comes out to about $20,000 per person who was not discriminated against. This is known as reverse discrimination.
It is clearly unfair to those who are not discriminated against. Discrimination may be defined as, the unequal treatment of a group or individual based on their ethnicity, sex, religion, age, or disability, on the other hand, reverses discrimination harms those who are not discriminated as much or more as those who are discriminated against. Reverse discrimination in college sports is alive and well in America today. It is not that students of racial ethnicity are being given preferential treatment, rather the bias is gender based.
When America was founded it was based on equality. Since the year of America’s birth, there have been a number of different cases of people being discriminated against for their beliefs, race, or sex. Black slaves were first used on American soil in Jamestown in the early 1600’s. And even after the nation went to war to set them free more than two hundred years later, there was still segregation.
That was outlawed by various means in the 1950′s, 60′s, and 70’s. No African American has been rewarded with $20,000 because his ancestors were enslaved, raped, hanged, or held against his will with the full support of the laws of the United States.
The earlier definition of discrimination has been most commonly used throughout the mid-1900’s during the Civil Rights Movement when black Americans struggled to gain full citizenship rights and racial equality. In society today, the government has laws to protect groups and/or individuals from discrimination. Some of these laws are “the Civil Rights Act of 1954, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the Fair Housing Act.” However, there is a danger in correcting discrimination. That danger may be over correction at the expense of the first party.
Women have also been discriminated against. It wasn’t until 1920 that women were allowed to vote. None have been awarded large sums of money because they were unable to enjoy all the rights promised in the Constitution. However, in the present today women are equal to men in almost every aspect of life. In fact, women enjoy a distinct advantage over men in college athletics. As has been the case with minority reverse discrimination, so it is now with reverse women discrimination in college sports.
Another group that has been discriminated against is male college athletes who have a realization of what is actually going on. Stephen Neal was a world champion wrestler and also captain of his wrestling team at California State University- Bakersfield (Hlinak, Supreme Court Considering Whether to Hear title IX Retaliation Case). This all suddenly stopped when the school cut the team. It was not an issue of money, or equipment, and obviously, if Neal was a world champion wrestler, it wasn’t an issue of ability. It was just a simple issue of the school having too many male athletes. It wasn’t even entirely the schools decision, more it was a federal law decision. Athletes all across America are being hurt by the prejudice of insane feminist.

Olympics and college suffer becasue of Title-IX

Some colleges have found that the easiest way to comply with Titie-IX is to cut mens sports programs

“We completely embrace Title IX, and in our opinion we are the ones who are defending Title IX.” The actual language of Title IX is such that it prohibits gender based discrimination on college campuses that receive federal funds” (Pyeatt, Title IX Discriminates Against Men’s Athletics, Suit Alleges).

Moyer pointed out Marquette University’s wrestling squad, which was cancelled because of a gender quota. The university had provided only minimal help to the athletes, as far as money. According to Moyer, the Marquette wrestling team was almost completely funded from private donations from alumni. Moyer did say however, that the school provided money for all utilities in the practice area. He also commented about the athletes on the wrestling team,
“They simply had too many male athletes in their athletic department. The only reason they were eliminated was because they were men, which clearly violates everything that Title IX is about.”
The NWLC filed their brief, and had many comments to make on the subject. The group felt that the NWCA was accusing women and suggested that they move their bull’s-eye away from women and more towards the school’s refusal to support both men and women’s teams.
They also suggested that the NWCA look to the schools to take money away from “the bloated” football and men’s basketball programs. This argument by the NWLC seems inaccurate because Moyer had previously stated that they supported women’s sports. The case was dismissed and appealed later by the NWCA; however, not much was accomplished in favor of them (Pyeatt, Title IX Discriminates Against Men’s Athletics, Suit Alleges).
Title IX is a quota system. It is based on the equal numbers of men and women in sports. It is often argued that Title IX is not a quota and leaves the decision of cutting a team or pulling funds away from a team, up to the school.
While Title IX does leave decisions up to the schools, it also creates an atmosphere where there is an obvious team that will go. Women’s sports are not cut. Men’s teams are often cut. The main reason for cutting the teams is because of numbers. There are too many males.
Looking at numbers of male athletes that have been cut, or looking at numbers of teams that have been cut, does not give a realization of what is actually going on. Stephen Neal was a world champion wrestler and also captain of his wrestling team at California State University- Bakersfield (Hlinak, Supreme Court Considering Whether to Hear title IX Retaliation Case). This all suddenly stopped when the school cut the team. It was not an issue of money, or equipment, and obviously, if Neal was a world champion wrestler, it wasn’t an issue of ability. It was just a simple issue of the school having too many male athletes. It wasn’t even entirely the schools decision, more it was a federal law decision. Athletes all across America are being hurt by the prejudice of insane feminist.
In the 2000 Olympics in Australia there was an interesting development that came to pass. For the first time since 1968, the USA freestyle wrestlers failed to win a single gold medal (Coulter, Title IX Defeats Male Athletes). This is an apparent connection between college wrestling teams being cut and the U.S. not performing as it has in the past. Is this really what America wanted, to give up the glory of winning in front of the world, for women to have a few more sports that are put to an end after college? There remain only three professional leagues for women, the WNBA (basketball), LPGA (golf), and tennis. There was a soccer league called WUSA, however, it failed to generate enough money in its third season and became extinct. It wasn’t that men put an end to the WUSA; it was that fans didn’t want to watch anymore. It is men’s sports that suffer through this, while more and more money gets drained into women’s sports that are not producing. The WNBA has lost money every year since it debuted. As of today, the league survives solely by the media support of the NBA.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Title IX 40th anniversary

Though the law expanded opportunities for women in many arenas, it still faces challenges, experts say.

"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."
click image to enlarge
Janet Judge, below, a sports law attorney from North Yarmouth, is regarded by many as one of the nation’s foremost experts on Title IX. Above: Judge, at age 10 in 1972, was one of the first girls to play Little League baseball in her native Maryland. That season, she was mostly intentionally walked or hit by the pitch.
click image to enlarge
Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer


Thirty-seven words are all it took to change America.
Those words, signed into law as Title IX by President Nixon on June 23, 1972, not only opened educational doors that had previously been bolted shut to women, but also expanded opportunities for women both on the playing field and in the work force.
But as Title IX turns 40 on Saturday, the landmark legislation still faces challenges. Despite all the progress, schools, colleges and universities sometimes still need a push to ensure equality, especially when it comes to facilities and opportunities to play.
The Women's Sports Foundation reports that, at the high school level, there are 1.3 million more boys competing than girls nationally -- and that gap has widened in the past couple of years.
Janet Judge is president of Sports Law Associates in North Yarmouth and regarded by many as one of the nation's foremost Title IX experts. She co-authored the NCAA Title IX handbook with Tim O'Brien, a Title IX lawyer from Kennebunk.
She applauds Title IX's 40th anniversary, but notes more work needs to be done.
"Even 40 years later challenges remain," Judge wrote in an email. "Where schools would never dream of requiring female students as a matter of course to use poorer bathrooms, make do with inferior equipment in the classroom, double up in dorm rooms, be satisfied with inequitable access to medical treatment, agree to use facilities during non-prime times so that their male counterparts are not inconvenienced and wash their own clothes while providing free laundry services to males, they still allow these things to happen in athletics."
Yet the impact has been significant, shaping a cultural shift that tore down decades-long stereotypes of what women could and couldn't do.
"Title IX," said Bruce Pratt, an English professor at the University of Maine and the faculty liaison to the women's basketball team, "is as important as anything since the voting rights and civil rights acts of the 1960s. When I was young, girls were told to avoid sports and to be quiet about their school successes, because such things made them unattractive to men. In other words, athletic and intelligent women didn't make good marrying material.
"That was an awful message to young women," Pratt continued in an email. "Title IX allowed women to see what it was men got from sports, and they have been better ever since."
Of course, Title IX isn't just about sports, although that is where its impact is most evident. The legislation, introduced 40 years ago by U.S. Rep. Patsy Mink, D-Hawaii, and embraced by Democratic U.S. Sen. Birch Bayh of Indiana, has provided many opportunities previously not available to women.
In a Sports Illustrated article celebrating the 40th anniversary of Title IX, it was noted that 47 percent of all law degrees are now going to women, compared with just 7 percent in 1972; and 48 percent of medical degrees now go to women, compared with just 9 percent in 1972.
The growth in athletics is even more astounding.
According to the National Federation of State High School Associations, there were just 294,015 girls participating in high school sports in 1972. In the latest numbers, for the 2010-11 school year, there were 3,173,549 girls competing in high school sports -- a 979 percent increase.
In one measure of Title IX compliance, Maine received the third-best rank nationally. According to the National Women's Law Center, schools where the percentage of girls participating in sports is 10 or more percentage points lower than the percentage of girls in the student body as a whole are probably at risk of not complying with Title IX.
In Maine, 7.5 percent of the state's high schools fall into that category -- in the worst-ranked state, Georgia, 71.6 percent of high schools do.
The rise isn't as dramatic at the NCAA level, but it is still significant, according to statistics from the Women's Sports Foundation: from 29,977 females competing in 1972, to 186,460 in the 2009-10 school year -- a 522 percent increase.
Title IX certainly opened the eyes of a young Yarmouth High School graduate named Julia Greenleaf back in 2000, when she was a member of the Connecticut College women's rowing team.
Frustrated and upset at what they perceived was the poor treatment of the women's program by the school's administration, the rowers refused to practice, then covered the school logo on their jerseys with duct tape during competitions.
They staged a sit-in and presented a list of demands -- among them, the hiring of a qualified coach for the women's team. In the end, they were victorious.
Greenleaf, who wrote the letters of protest and demands to the school's board of trustees, found her calling because of that event. Now married, Julia Pitney is an attorney with the firm Drummond & Drummond in Portland, specializing in employment law and discrimination cases.
"That event made me decide I wanted to go into law," she said. "It made me see that I had some knack for advocacy. And being a lawyer is about being an advocate."
Judge, the nationally renowned Title IX lawyer, was in Boston last week. Before that, it was Virginia, then Idaho, Spokane, Wash., and Georgia. When people have a question about Title IX, they go to her.
"There's nobody better than her in the country," said Steve Abbott, the athletic director at the University of Maine.
Maybe that's because her entire life has seemingly revolved around Title IX.
Growing up in Potomac, Md., she was the only girl on the Little League baseball team known as the Hustlers. Once she hit high school, she tried out for the boys' cross country team. She made it, and then was the subject of some heated discussions: What to do about her?
"Their solution was to set up cones on the soccer field every day and let me run by myself," she said. "And so ... separate but equal."
That was in the early 1970s, soon after Title IX passed. Following high school, she went on to play soccer at Harvard University. Her career path eventually led her to law, and to Title IX.
Now colleges across the nation ask her to audit their programs. She represents 15 colleges, working not only on Title IX compliance but also on other issues such as NCAA enforcement and strategic planning. Currently, she is representing four schools in open Title IX compliance investigations.
At its essence, she said, Title IX is simply about providing the same educational opportunities to both males and females.
An offshoot of that is that Title IX has proven sports does matter.
"The crux of Title IX is simple: Educational institutions that receive federal funding should treat boys and girls, men and women, fairly, or give the money back," she said. "Schools that comply have seen all of their athletes thrive. Participation in sports teaches valuable life lessons for male and female competitors.
"Successful athletes want the ball, don't blame their teammates, understand the value of teamwork, show up every day, practice to get better, bounce back from loss and celebrate personal and team victories. Title IX helps to ensure those experiences are available to our sons and our daughters equitably. That's pretty significant."
By allowing girls to participate in competitive athletics, Title IX -- renamed the Patsy Takemoto Mink Equal Opportunity in Education Act after the late U.S. representative -- has affected society in many positive ways.
"When Title IX was passed, one of the things that wasn't widely recognized is the empowerment that comes with being physically fit and physically competent," said Nancy Hogshead-Maker, a former U.S. Olympic swimmer and the senior director of advocacy for the Women's Sports Foundation. "One of the hidden benefits has been this huge mass movement toward being physically fit, something that really changes the psyche of our country.
"Being physically fit and physically competent will fulfill you, will help you in other areas of your life. Kids who are physically fit get better educations, they complete school more readily, they're in the work force more. It is a very powerful thing for everyone to have a healthy, productive work force that is well-educated."
Julie Davis, the athletic director at the University of Maine at Farmington for the past 11 years, is quite succinct in her thoughts about Title IX.
"I wouldn't be doing what I'm doing if it wasn't for Title IX," she said. "That's for sure."
"I was a shy kid growing up," she continued. "Sports helps build your confidence and skill set and provides a vision of what you might be capable of. It did it for me and for boys."
As colleges and universities across the nation grapple with Title IX compliance, athletic directors at the University of Southern Maine and other schools in the state say they have simply followed a basic tenet: Do the right thing.
"I think Title IX means making an honest effort to treat both genders the same," said Al Bean, the athletic director at the University of Southern Maine. "To make sure that you're providing equal access to both men and women and you're being fair about how you treat them.
"You want to make sure what you're doing for one, you're doing for the other."
Jeff Ward, the athletic director at Bowdoin College, said he often looks at how the college handles its sports teams. And while he must consider Title IX compliance, he thinks a school has to look beyond that.
"I really want our students, and I think the college really wants its female students, to know how much we value them," he said. "I would be negligent if I didn't look at things from a Title IX perspective every once in a while. But it's not really how we drive our policy.
"I ask myself, 'Am I being fair to everyone?' "
There are three ways a school can meet Title IX requirements:
• If the percentages of male and female athletes are substantially proportional to the percentages of male and female students enrolled at the school.
• If the school demonstrates it has a history and continuing practice of expanding athletic offerings for the underrepresented gender.
• If the school's athletic programs effectively meet the interests and abilities of the underrepresented sex.
It's not always easy. Proportionality, for example, fluctuates on an annual basis as seniors graduate and freshmen enter.
"The hard thing is to stay compliant in an ever-changing environment," said Richard Barron, the women's basketball coach at UMaine. "Needs constantly shift, numbers constantly shift. You have to look at participation numbers, but you also have to look at what the needs are for that community.
"If 50-50 is the goal, but you've got a student body that's 60-40 women, but only 30 percent of the women have a desire to participate in athletics and 70 percent of the men do, how do you balance that?"
That's where people like Judge come in.
"Title IX involves intense technical compliance and that is a challenge for everyone," said UMaine's Abbott. "It requires a level of expertise and that's why we're lucky to have someone like Janet Judge working for us. There are a lot of small things you have to do to make sure you comply."
Bean is grateful to have Judge on his side as well. The two discuss compliance and, Bean said, she will point out shortcomings that the school works to eliminate.
One obvious shortcoming is the school's softball field. It is located next to the baseball field, which has several amenities that the softball field doesn't. Bean said the school is working to raise funds to improve the softball field.
"When we renovated our baseball stadium, the plan was to move right to softball and do that," he said. "Here we are, seven years later, and that still hasn't been taken care of. That's on our shortlist of things to take care of. We've known from day one it needs to be dealt with."
Abbott firmly believes that Title IX had everything to do with women now being accepted not only as athletes, but also as athletic administrators, coaches, doctors, lawyers, engineers or leaders in business.
"It wasn't that long ago when women's sports, or girls' sports, were treated more like recreation and more like intramurals," he said. "And those things are great. But it's a different experience ... to compete at the intercollegiate level.
"And the benefits (of competing in college) have been in place long enough that they're paying off for a whole generation of women who are in the work force and are becoming business leaders and great leaders in the nation."
Lynn Coutts, the softball coach at UMaine, used to joke with her male classmates a lot when she played softball for the Black Bears. She would tell them, "I can't wait until you have daughters. You're going to want them to have the same opportunities you had."
Hogshead-Maker of the Women's Sports Foundation knows this is true.
"Who calls the Women's Sports Foundation overwhelmingly?" she asked. "Men with daughters, looking for help."
Staff Writer Mike Lowe can be contacted at 791-6422 or at:
Twitter: MikeLowePPH

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Marshwood freshman wrestling beyond his years

Marshwood wrestler reflects back on 51-win season with Hawks

Foster's Daily Democrat
SOUTH BERWICK, Maine — Cody Hughes admits he is just having fun, which could mean for a lot of unhappy wrestling opponents by the time he graduates in 2015.

Oh well.

Hughes, just a freshman, played an instrumental role in Marshwood High School's Class A state championship season, the first in program history, and the fifth title overall. He went 51-2, was unbeaten in Maine, and was named the Class A tournament's outstanding wrestler after cruising to the 138-pound title.

He followed that up with a 5-2 mark last month at the New England championships in Providence, R.I., placing fifth at 138.

Cody is also a legacy wrestler, the son of Todd Hughes, the Marshwood Middle School wrestling coach. Todd is a 1990 Marshwood graduate, wrestling on some of veteran coach Matt Rix's first teams, including the program's first state championship squad in 1989 in Class B. His career record is 114-14-1.

"He's done his homework," said Rix, whose teams won four Class B titles from 1989 to 1999 before moving up to Class A in 2000. "He just doesn't do it for three months. He's really ramped it up in the offseason, and Todd's done a nice job with him."

The rangy 5-foot-10 freshman certainly wrestled beyond his years. Hughes came into high school with a talented freshman class. Rix's early concerns were quickly erased.

"I was concerned he would come in and think he was the top dog," Rix said. "It was the opposite. He was very humble. He did everything I asked of him. He was a real team player."

He was also very good. So good, in fact, that Rix named him the team's outstanding wrestler, an honor typically reserved for a junior or senior.

"He's so down to earth," Rix added. "I hope he stays that way."

To look at Hughes and his dad, you certainly wonder a little bit as Cody is 5-10 and his dad is 5-7.

"I get my height from my mom's side," said Cody with a smile. "They're all basketball players and they're all about 6-feet. I just fall into my mom's side."

Hughes is even keeled, not prone to getting too high or too low, and he's both smart and relentless on the mat.

"I try to go out there and win," he said. "I try to go for the pin, that helps the team the most. I got out there to get the most points I can and get after it. I just try to push the pace and keep going at the person."

Rix was impressed with Hughes' wrestling acumen and his ability to stay out of trouble.

"He knows when to get out and back off," Rix said. "His biggest strength is he's very smart wrestling on the mat. He's come up against stronger kids, but he hasn't put himself into a position where he was getting overpowered."

Todd said Hughe's lanky build gives him a reach that works to his advantage.

"He's definitely more technical than most of the freshman that we see," Todd said. "He's been able to adapt and grow with coach Rix's help in his offseason wrestling."

"I wrestle nationally in the offseason, so I know when it's close I play it safe in some situations or go hard," Hughes added. "I try not to put myself in bad situations."

And, of course, there's his cool demeanor. Hughes never seems to let the moment get to him.

"I try to be consistent," he said. "I keep cool. I don't try to get too angry. I'm just having fun."

"Being in some of the big tournaments in the past, it's helped with his emotions," Todd said. "He knows that it's great to win; it's great to be excited. But you don't need to rub it in anybody's face. You can be humble about it."

It's an approach that has served Hughes well so far.

Late last month, Hughes wrestled at the NHSCA Freshman Nationals in Virginia Beach, Va., and went 5-2 and placed fourth at 138.

He has his eye on college and one of his goals is to wrestle at the Division I level.

"He has the ability to be a Division I wrestler," Todd said, "to win the New Englands, win in nationals. He's just got to focus and have fun with it, that's the main thing."

The father-son relationship is a good one, working well where that is not always the case.

"It's pretty easy most of the time," Hughes said.

"Except when I take you down, you get mad," his dad added with a laugh. "But it's definitely getting harder for me to wrestle him."