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High School Field Named to Honor Alumna

Karen Meats’ name graces new softball field at South Eugene

South Eugene High School’s new softball field has been named in honor of 1964 graduate Karen Meats.

Ms. Meats was a standout female athlete, coach, and pioneer in the development of athletic opportunities for girls, before and after Title IX, the 1972 federal law requiring gender equity in public education programs and activities. She has been active and prominent in the softball community for nearly 60 years as an athlete, coach, teacher, official and mentor.

“Although my name is on this beautiful facility, I represent all female athletes from the days before Title IX,” Ms. Meats remarked at the dedication ceremony. “We old-timers are very glad that society has evolved far enough to realize that the athletic experience plays a critical role in overall development for all students, including females….We came before Title IX, and we were fierce!”

During Ms. Meats’ time at South Eugene, there were very few interscholastic athletic opportunities for girls. Still, she participated in seven different sports—softball, field hockey, basketball, volleyball, track and field, tennis and badminton. She went on to the University of Oregon, where she participated in five intercollegiate sports and earned an education degree. After college she was a pioneer in launching and building girls’ athletic programs as a teacher and coach at high schools in Oregon.

Ms. Meats excelled in softball with the Amateur Softball Association of America, ASA Softball, now called USA Softball. Her softball career began in 1959, when she was in 7th grade, with the McCulloch Chain Saws in Eugene. She played as a left fielder and back-up pitcher, and was named to the All-American second team in 1966.

Karen Meats early in her softball careerIn recognition of Ms. Meats’ 41-year softball career (1959–2000), she was inducted into the ASA Softball Oregon Hall of Fame in 1990, the University of Oregon Athletic Hall of Fame in 2002, the ASA Softball Regional Hall of Fame in 2007, and the South Eugene Athletic Hall of Fame in 2011. She also was named Oregon’s Umpire of the Year in 1991.

Dr. Andy Dey, principal of South Eugene High School, said, “Karen has spent her life advancing opportunities for young women through sports, both in our local community and across the state. She is a role model and inspiration for student-athletes in the past, present and future. It is South Eugene High School’s great pride and honor to have our softball field named Karen Meats Field.”

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