Courtesy: Courtesy Photo
Title IX Anniversary Celebration: Jeanette Schrand
CHICAGO - Jeanette Schrand owes a lot to Title IX. The fifth child out of six in her family, she couldn't have afforded college without the nearly full-ride scholarship she won to play softball for Central Michigan.

Years later, working as an assistant softball coach at Miami University in Ohio, the inequities she saw in facilities and pay inspired her to go to law school.

And the sport itself, she says, transformed her from a shy girl from a tiny village into a confident trial attorney at the Chicago office of the National Labor Relations Board.

"The confidence I have of being OK with people staring at me, of public speaking -- without athletics I would never be able to do this," says Schrand, 43, who played softball at CMU from 1988 to 1991. "I would be too nervous, too anxious. You worry about a big game, you worry about a trial -- but you do it anyway, because you've learned it won't be as bad as you think."

Schrand grew up in Armada, a village of 1,700 in Macomb County. In her tiny home town, Jeanette was a star, pitching every game. Her freshman year at Central, she only pitched one.

And when she played, there were a lot more people watching than the handful of parents in Armada. "I learned to deal with stress and emotions," she says. "You learn you can do it -- even if it's scary.

Balancing rigorous practices, travel and her college classes was a great learning experience, she says.

"I learned time management, which is so important in my job as an attorney," says Schrand, who is in a civil union with her partner of 15 years. "You have to be efficient with your time. Things have to get done. On the team, ultimately it's up to you to get everything done, just like on the job."

Like many female athletes, Schrand tells how much she learned from her coach.

"Margo taught us attention to detail," she says of CMU softball coach, Margo Jonker. "She called it 'seriousness of purpose.' You don't walk onto the field, she would tell us, you run. Things like that. As an attorney, I have to manage all the little details of a case so I have a good outcome."

Ask Schrand what part softball played in her overall college education, and she laughs.

"It wasn't part of it," she says. "It was all of it. My memories of my undergrad time are almost all about softball.

"You learn what it's like to work in a group, how to get along with them, how much is leading and how much is following," she says. "When it comes down to it, so much of life is about how well you get along with people.

"It's impossible to consider what my life would be like without it," she says. "The people I met, the confidence I gained, feeling comfortable with who I am.

"I wouldn't be who I am without my experience in athletics."