LeRoy Pennysaver & News

LE ROY PENNYSAVER & NEWS - MARCH 20, 2022 by Lynne Belluscio It’s Women’s History Month, and there probably isn’t a more suitable Le Royan to include this week, than RochelleWilson. She was born in Le Roy and grew up at 27 East Avenue. She graduated from Le LeRoy Central School in 1971. The date is important because, it was the last year before Title IX was implemented. But “Willy” as she was known, did not let that stand in her way. She competed with the boys on the track team and was voted by the boys to serve as manager. The school was proud to include her in the yearbook. The year after Willy graduated, the Federal Department of Education, implemented Title IX. “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 of activity receiving Federal assistance.” The Department of Education was (and is) committed to complying with the Title IX and ensuring that DOE schools and workplaces are free of sex discrimination. Making the situation worse, Willie should have gone on to college, with a sports scholarship, but that was denied her also, so she joined the Marines. She was assigned to the Middle East where she was assigned to oversee chemical decontamination sites and storage facilities with radioactive uranium at a former Soviet air base. She returned home, like many veterans, with a variety of medical issues, which the government refused to acknowledge - -and refuses to acknowledge today. Rochelle died January 6, 2014, in Union Springs, Alabama, But she is remembered in her home town. Recently, Ed Henry posted some photos on LeRoy Then and Now, and folks shared their memories of “Willie:” “Being on the track team Rochelle was gas. Hard working with a great sense of humor. She was all girl until she competed - then she was all guy and took it to you. One of the best.” “Rochelle was awesome.” “I remember being on the track team in ‘72. We had to climb the fence at Hartwood to get to practice. They wouldn’t unlock the gate, only the boys’ locker room.” “She was on the team but not allowed to compete in the meets until one day, another team had a female member on their squad - - and it was game on. Of course, as we all knew would happen, Willy totally smoked her. Absolutely right - - great athlete, even greater person, and role model. God rest her soul.” “Shelley used to change into her track clothes at our house because they wouldn’t make provision for her at the clubhouse. She met with constant opposition, yet overcame them all proving you can do and be whatever you set your mind to if you want it bad enough.” Rochelle “Willy” Wilson - “She was awesome!”