Olympic Gold and the Dayton Sportsplex

David Esrati and Nancy Hogshead-Makar with 1984 Olympic gold medalJuly 20, 2007- roll the highlight reel.

I spent the day with Nancy Hogshead-Makar- for me, it was like winning the lottery on life. And, I’m going to share my bounty. (I’ll post a pic when I get a chance to) For those of you who may not know the name, this is from her bio:

Professor Nancy Hogshead-Makar
Several swimmers have been ranked number one in the world. Nancy Hogshead did it at the age of 14. In fact, she was the only American swimmer to be number one in international competition in 1977. A year later Nancy left home to train for the 1980 Olympics. She qualified for the team, but the boycott of the Games kept her home. Later, at Duke University, she shattered nearly every school record. Through high school and college dual meets she was undefeated. Other major national awards include the Come-Back Swimmer of the Year Award and the prestigious Kiphuth Award, given to the best all-around swimmer nationally.

At the age of 22, Nancy capped eight years as a world class swimmer. At the 1984 Olympics, she won more medals than any other swimmer – three Gold medals and one Silver. She has been inducted into six Halls of Fame, including the International Swimming Hall of Fame. In June of 2001 she was inducted into the International Scholar-Athlete Hall of Fame.

Since retiring from swimming, Hogshead-Makar has been a high profile advocate of gender equity in sports. She is one of the nation’s foremost exponents of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, particularly within the context of intercollegiate sports. She is a former President of the Women’s Sports Foundation (1992-94) and currently serves on its Board of Stewards. She has testified in Congress numerous times on the topic of gender equity in athletics and has served on two Presidential Committees.

Over an amazing Thai lunch finished with the most amazing Bananas Foster ever- we talked about my ideas for the Dayton Public Schools and Sportsplex.

Actually, we had a bit of a debate (imagine that). Nancy wasn’t all that thrilled about having one HS Football team (using Football as an example- because we would only have one team for each sport) for the whole district- because it means less opportunity for kids to make the team. I argued back, that not all schools have Football now- or swimming- even though we have pools at most schools.

And- in the end, it comes down to the same issue we are talking about with regionalism and uni-gov. By not duplicating services, we can have more services- and better services. For example- right now there isn’t a competitive gymnastics program in the Dayton Public School system- (as far as I know, Centerville is the only district with a team). By having one central gymnastics program centered at Sportsplex- we could have a pretty good program built from the entire district- all ages.

I think Nancy got it- although, my arguments weren’t as clear as they are today. Think of it this way- our education system isn’t really made up of buildings-it’s made up of people. When we take our social capital and organize it most efficiently- we can get a synergy that will give us results far greater than we can while we continue to let things like buildings and man made boundaries limit our reach.

In the end- SportsPlex isn’t just a glorified gym, it’s a tool of bringing us together and amplifying our strengths.

Nancy’s success was a result of an elite swim program and a lot of hard work- right now, she battles for equal access for women to opportunity through sport. Hopefully, by the time I get this whole thing mapped out, she’ll give it a gold medal.

Right now- what are your thoughts? (And no, you can’t have her number).

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