Friday, December 2, 2011

Turns out Merckle's not the first

With Division I track programs recruiting Fort Cherry senior Jessie Merckle, it led to a natural topic of coversation.
Had a school known for producing NFL coaches, 4,000-yard running backs and the Garry coaching family ever produced a Division I female athlete.
Following inner-office discussion, and a few conversations with people in the Fort Cherry community - the answer seemed to be "no."
So, when Merckle (shown in this photo with FC track coach Ben Maxin during a national competition) made a commitment to throw the javelin for Wake Forest University recently, I felt comfortable reporting that she was the first female from Fort Cherry to receive an athletic scholarship.
Not so fast.
In 1979, Janet Marquis played softball for Fort Cherry, where she pitched nine no-hitters, and accepted an athletic scholarship to pitch at Indiana State University in Terre Haute, Ind. That's the same Indiana State that Larry Bird led to the NCAA men's basketball championship game.
Marquis pitched at Indiana State for four years before becoming a softball coach at Eastern Illinois University.
Indiana State produced a first for another local school and female athlete. Former Canon-McMillan softball standout Tiffany Wasniewski played four years with the Sycamores and was a team captain. She was the first female in Big Macs sports history to accept a Division I athletic scholarship.

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