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Past meets present at Williamsport celebration

February 10, 1997

By BOB PARASILITI

Staff Writer

WILLIAMSPORT - It was only the doorway leading into the Williamsport Fire Hall, but to Janet Richmond and Brooke Weimer, it represented the entrance to the world as they knew it.

The door was propped wide open on Sunday, showing Richmond and Weimer a bit of history and the future in a matter of a few steps. Their tradition-rich community brought together more than 350 people, all to commemorate Girls and Women in Sports Day, Williamsport's second annual celebration of women and their athletic accomplishments.

At the first table sat Ethel Wright "Tickie" Baker, a 1932 graduate of Williamsport High School who competed in fieldball, and Dorothy Martin Kaetzel, an all-around athlete at the school in the late 1950s. They were little-known back then but changed the lives of both Richmond and Weimer.

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"I'd like to thank them," Richmond said. "If it weren't for sports, I'd be a completely different person than I am right now."

The chance for women to compete and succeed is the goal of National Girls and Women in Sports Day. Locally, Williamsport honored 320 athletes, including 106 from 1920-1960 who helped establish the area's sports programs.

Long before Richmond and Weimer could break through the participation barriers came Kaetzel and Baker, who found the cracks.

"Sports was everything to me," said Kaetzel, who played on Williamsport's county championship fieldball, basketball and softball teams in 1958. "Because of sports, I always looked forward to the next day and the next game. It allowed me to play and make new relationships. It helped me learn how to succeed and how to accept defeat because I knew there would always be another day."

For both Kaetzel and Baker, sports taught important life lessons while reinforcing the need of a strong family unit.

"One thing it taught me was fellowship," said Baker, 83, who competed in fieldball - a form of soccer. "I learned to communicate with my teammates and obedience to the rules of the game. The games we played were clean, because we respected each other. We learned to respect all the mothers and fathers and their brothers and sisters, that was something we learned at home."

Kaetzel said she thinks some of those lessons are lost on today's generation because students now "have life really good with many things to do."

Weimer and Richmond have avoided taking the easy way out.

"Sports are very important to me because it's something I do every day," said Weimer, an eighth grader honored as 1997 Middle School Sports Girl. "Ever since I've been real little, I've played all the different sports and enjoyed them. When I compete and accomplish something, I feel good and I enjoy helping my teammates."

Because of sports and movements like the National Women's Sports Foundation, Richmond, the 1997 High School Sportswoman, realizes the world is at her feet. As a senior at Williamsport High School, sports have given her the chance to further her education and do much more, something Baker and Kaetzel were not afforded in their time.

"I've made a lot of friends and been a lot of places I wouldn't have been if it weren't for sports," Richmond said. "Sports have helped me build my confidence a lot ... I don't know what I would have done with out it."

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