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Track and Field event at AAHS will honor Title IX 'trailblazers'

The B Lohrman Invitational will take place on Tuesday, May 16 at Alexandria Area high School.

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Current Alexandria girls' Track and Field coach, Meghan Orgeman, left, and the program's first-ever coach, Beverley Lohrman.
Contributed photo / Meghan Orgeman

ALEXANDRIA โ€” An event to honor 50 years of Title IX will take place Tuesday, May 16, at Alexandria Area High School starting at 3 p.m.

Prior to 1973, opportunities in sports for girls was virtually not existent. Then, the Title IX education amendment was passed.

The ruling states, "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," according to the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights.

It opened the door for girls' sports across the country. And in 1973, the first girls' track and field team was assembled under its first coach Beverley "B" Lohrman-Grossman.

Fifty years later, progress against sex discrimination has continued. Throughout the years, the Alexandria track and field team has had record-breaking female athletes like Julie Miller and her daughters โ€” Jaelyn Miller, Bethany Miller, Aleah Miller and JeAnna Miller.

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Alexandria's JeAnna Miller (left) is all smiles as she's congratulated by head coach Meghan Orgeman-Crumb after clearing a high jump during the Section 8AA True Team meet at AAHS on May 8, 2015. Miller is one of four state entries back for this Alexandria girls team.
Alexandria's JeAnna Miller (left) is all smiles as she's congratulated by head coach Meghan Orgeman-Crumb after clearing a high jump during the Section 8AA True Team meet at AAHS on May 8, 2015.
Alexandria Echo Press file photo

Julie Miller is a 1988 Jefferson High School graduate who helped set the Alexandria High School's girls track and field record in the 4-by-800-meter relay during her senior year. In 2019, Jaelyn, Bethany and Aleah all ran together on the relay team and broke the record.

Today and for the last 10 years, the team is under the guidance of Meghan Orgeman, 40, an experienced athlete herself and also the first woman to hold the title of president for the Minnesota Track and Field Coaches Association. Orgeman said she had "incredible male coaches in high school" but didn't have her first female coach until she was in college.

"I believe in the importance of having role models and coaches and advisers that look like you and experience the same thing as you. In this case, it's gender. I think it is important for girls to be coached, at least at some points in their life, by a woman," Orgeman said. She added that she is a strong believer in, "if you can see her, you can be her."

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Alexandria's 4x800-meter relay team of (left to right) Jaelyn Miller, Aleah Miller, Bethany Miller and Myah Kremer finished third at the 2019 Class AA state meet, shattering their own school-record time by more than three seconds in 9:23.91.
Alexandria Echo Press file photo

If it wasn't for women like Lohrman-Grossman and the early female athletes dubbed the "trailblazers" who were coached by Lohrman-Grossman, the accomplishments of the women above may not have been possible. Lohrman-Grossman fought to develop the women's athletic program after Title IX was passed and coached not only track and field but also gymnastics and basketball with no pay just to get the programs started. She was inducted into the School District 206 Hall of Fame in 2010.

"I am very grateful to have the opportunities that previous women paved the way for," Julie Miller said. "It is hard to imagine a time when (female sports in high school) wasn't available... You realize how much you have to be grateful for."

Julie Miller now works as a dietitian/diabetes educator. She said track and field taught her to live a healthy lifestyle and that it drove her to the work she does now; to help others live a healthy life. She said track and field has helped her daughters break out of their shells and taught them, including herself, leadership skills, effective communication, self advocating, goal setting, discipline, respect, camaraderie and perseverance through adversity. Skills they have taken outside of the sport.

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Alexandria girls track and field head coach Meghan Orgeman (left) and Jaelyn Miller celebrate Miller's eighth-place finish in the 1600-meter run at the Class AA state meet on June 19, 2021.
Alexandria Echo Press file photo

In an article from the Echo Press in 1973, Lohrman-Grossman says, "The physical education programs are very important to me. It educates mentally and socially as well as physically, and it teaches leadership to the hilt."

Orgeman says those are the same philosophies she practices as a coach. She feels that her role has brought the program to a full circle and hopes that she is doing good by Lohrman-Grossman. Orgeman added that track and field has taught her to be resilient, confident and adaptable. She says it is her mission to teach that to the future generations of female athletes.

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"If girls don't have women in coaching they don't see examples of how women can coach successfully. I believe in representation. I believe in supporting women coaches," Orgeman said. "(Lohrman-Grossman) truly is our trailblazer. Throughout my whole life, I have been really drawn toward strong women mentors and trailblazers. So this is something natural for me. To celebrate someone who helped us become who we are today and the impact she had."

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Alexandria head coach Meghan Orgeman congratulates Aleah Miller for winning the 1600m run at the Class AA State meet on June 11, 2022.
Alexandria Echo Press file photo

Orgerman was able to meet her once before Lohrman-Grossman died on Jan. 27, 2020.

After her funeral, Lohrman-Grossman's son, Mike Lohrman, and other family members established the Bev "B' Lohrman Grossman Foundation โ€” and partnered with the Alexandria Education Foundation โ€” to complete Grossman's mission to support education with a special emphasis on young women in both academic and athletic settings. The purpose is to encourage women's accomplishments by providing college scholarships, grants to help open doors for young women and support the women's athletics program.

Last year, Mike Lohrman asked Orgeman to become a part of the foundation's committee. Not long after, they got to planning on ways they can honor not only Lohrman-Grossman but also encourage girls' athletics.

On Tuesday, May 16, Lohrman-Grossman and the "trailblazers" will be honored with a track and field event called the B Lohrman Invitational. The event will take place at AAHS starting with a scoreboard dedication to Lohrman-Grossman at 3:15 p.m.

After the dedication, there will be a social hour where those in attendance can meet some of the original Alexandria girls' track and field athletes followed by a youth 100-meter run for middle and elementary school athletes. The event is free to attend. Light refreshments will be served. And pictures and stories will be shared.

Thalen Zimmerman of Alexandria joined the Echo Press team as a full-time reporter in Aug. 2021, after graduating from Bemidji State University with a bachelor of science degree in mass communication in May of 2021.
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