Title IX at 50: Macy Irelan's Story

By Geoff Kimmerly
MHSAA.com senior editor

July 19, 2022

Macy Irelan graduated from Owosso High School this spring having accomplished legendary feats on the softball diamond. And she grew up with an appreciation for that opportunity fostered by the achievements of three legendary women in her community.

Irelan played on Pauline “Denny” Hill Field, named after the pioneering Owosso three-sport coach who in 1947 played for the Muskegon Lassies of the All-American Girls’ Baseball League featured in the film “A League of Their Own.”  Irelan’s softball coach has been JoEllen (Maginity) Smith, a 1978 Owosso grad who went on to play at Grand Valley State and this spring completed her 39th season since taking over the softball program from Hill. She led the Trojans to the 2021 Division 2 championship – the school’s first MHSAA Finals team title in any sport. Irelan’s elementary school principal was Teresa (Vondrasek) Graham, a 1979 Owosso grad who went on to become an Oakland University Sports Hall of Famer for basketball and internationally-renowned judo champion.

Those women and their stories taught Irelan to be grateful for her opportunities, the value of working for what she wanted to accomplish and to never give up. Also a school record-setting swimmer, Irelan’s impact on Owosso athletics won’t be forgotten especially because of her work in the pitching circle. In addition to pitching the Trojans to that 2021 championship, Irelan has earned 11 entries in the MHSAA record book, most notably with her 1,157 strikeouts over just three seasons (with 2020 canceled due to COVID-19), the second-most in the state since the pitching distance was lengthened three feet in 2011. Irelan finished 31-7 this spring with a 1.43 ERA and 414 strikeouts in 229 2/3 innings in earning the Miss Softball Award for pitching. She also hit .551 with 21 doubles, eight home runs and 60 RBI. She’ll continue her career at Kent State University and will study special education.

"I’ve never had to worry about 'am I going to be able to play in a high school sport or will I be respected?' So I think it just means to me that I am proud that I have been taught by these wonderful women who were impacted by Title IX. … All of these women have impacted me in so many ways. 
"Although I didn’t have to personally fight my way through, it was gifted to me, it still means a lot that I have been able to be coached (by) these wonderful women and get a scholarship myself to play at the collegiate level.

Second Half's weekly Title IX Celebration posts are sponsored by Michigan Army National Guard.

Previous Title IX at 50 Spotlights

July 12: Bridget Boczar's Story - Read
July 5:
Ella Boose's Story - Read
June 28:
Kaila Jackson's Story - Read
June 23: 
We Celebrate Our Past, We Look Forward to Our Future - Read
June 21: Assistant Directors Have Been Difference Makers - Read
June 14: 
Girls Lacrosse Finals Officials Set Empowering Example - Read
June 7: 
From Gymnastics to Wrestling, Girls Opportunities Continue to Grow - Read
May 31: 
Mumford Sprinter's Magnificent 2006 Final Remains Unmatched - Read

May 24: Scane, Whiteside Alone on 400-Goal, 500-Point Girls Lacrosse Lists - Read
May 17: Over 8 Days in 1988, Pair of Champs Set No. 1 Singles Standard - Read
May 10: 
Portage Central's Tarpley Scores as State's Superstar, U.S. Soccer Hero - Read
May 3: 
Prychitko 'Legend In Her Own Time,' Legend for All Time - Read
April 26: 
Braddock vs. Verdun Still Striding Among All-Time Sprint Matchups - Read
April 19: 
Holmes' Strikeout Record Rarely Approached, May Be Unbreakable - Read
April 12: 
Anticipation High as 45,000 Girls Return to Spring Sports - Read
April 5: 
Regina's Laffey Retiring as Definition of Legendary - Read
March 29: 
Edison's Whitehorn named 2022 Miss Basketball - Read
March 22: 
Carney-Nadeau Sets Girls Hoops Standard with 78-Win Streak - Read
March 15: 
Binder Among Voices Telling Our Story on MHSAA Network - Read
March 8: 
28 Years, Thousands of Cheers - Read
March 1: 
Kearsley Rolls On Among Girls Bowling's Early Successes - Read
Feb. 22: Marquette Ties Record for Swim & Dive Finals Success - Read
Feb. 15: Jaeger's 2004 Winter Run Created Lasting Connection - Read
Feb. 8: Marian's Cicerone to Finish Among All-Time Elite - Read
Feb. 1: WISL Award Honors Builders of State's Girls Sports Tradition - Read
Jan. 25: Decades Later, Edwards' Legend Continues to Grow - Read
Jan. 18: Iron Mountain Completes Championship Climb - Read
Jan. 11: Harrold's Achievement Heralds Growth of Girls Wrestling - Read
Dec. 20: Competitive Cheer Gives Michigan Plenty to Cheer About - Read
Dec. 14: 
Evelyn's Game Had Plenty of Magic - Read
Dec. 7: 
Council Term Ends, But Leinaar Leaves Lasting Impact - Read
Nov. 30: 
Basketball Season Ready to Add to Rich Tradition - Read
Nov. 23: 
Marysville Builds Winning Streak Yet to be Challenged - Read
Nov. 16: Wroubel Has Championed Girls School Sports from Their Start - Read
Nov. 9: Pioneer's Joyce Legendary in Michigan, National Swim History - Read
Nov. 2: Royal Oak's Finch Leading Way on Football Field - Read
Oct. 26: Coach Clegg Sets Championship Standard at Grand Blanc - Read
Oct. 19: Rockford Girls Set Pace, Hundreds After Have Continued to Chase - Read
Oct. 12: 
Bedford Volleyball Pioneer Continues Blazing Record-Setting Trail - Read
Oct. 5: 
Warner Paved Way to Legend Status with Record Rounds - Read
Sept. 28: Taylor Kennedy Gymnasts Earn Fame as 1st Champions - Read
Sept. 21: 
Portage Northern Star Byington Becomes Play-by-Play Pioneer - Read
Sept. 14: 
Guerra/Groat Legacy Continues to Serve St. Philip Well - Read
Sept. 7: 
Best-Ever Conversation Must Include Leland's Glass - Read
Aug. 31: We Will Celebrate Many Who Paved the Way - Read