Francie Goodridge: U.S. Olympian, Greenhills icon, and Title IX warrior
It is impossible to tell the story of Greenhills women’s sports without telling the story of Francie (Kraker) Goodridge.
By 1976, Goodridge was already a national figure. She had run for the U.S. National Track and Field team at two Olympics, in Mexico City and Munich, as the first woman from Michigan to earn a place on the team. Then she took a job at the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee as both a track coach and one of the first coordinators of women’s sports.
At the University, Goodridge was already showing that she wasn’t going to be a pushover. One day, some administrators came in, announced that they had a Title IX report to turn in, and asked her to sign it.
“Excuse me?” Goodridge said. “Wait a minute.” She took the administrators on a tour, showing them the paint peeling off the ceilings of the women’s locker room, and the water pouring down the stairs.
“I turned in my Title IX report,” Goodridge said, “and it was harsh.”
The situation at the University felt impossible, so Goodridge and her husband John resigned. That’s when they came to Greenhills.
Goodridge is now a prolific track figure: she became the head coach of the women’s team at the University of Michigan in 1981, and later spent 15 years as the head coach at Wake Forest.
“It was a battle, the whole time,” she said. “I was a Title IX warrior all those years.”
But one of her fondest memories, she remembers, came at Greenhills.
The Boys Cross Country team was the front-runner for the state championship. On race day, sure enough, the team lived up to its reputation. The boys dominated their race, and when it was over, they’d won the school’s second-ever state championship. That was because 15 minutes earlier, Goodridge’s girls team had run its race — and won the first state championship in school history.