The University Record, December 3, 2001

Goodridge inducted into Michigan Women’s Hall of Fame

By Judy Steeh
News and Information Services

U-M admissions counselor Francea (Francie) Kraker Goodridge, a trailblazer in the field of women’s athletics since her student days at Ann Arbor’s Slauson Junior High School in the 1960s, was inducted recently into the Michigan Women’s Hall of Fame.

As the program from the ceremony noted, Goodridge’s career has been full of firsts. In 1960, when she was only 13, she caught the eye of former Olympic runner Ken, “Red,” Simmons, who thought she had potential as a runner. “Red and [his wife] Betty made me their hobby,” Goodridge recalls. “He was a firm believer in overall training for strength and flexibility, and he trained me just the way he would have trained a boy, including lifting weights.” About a year later Ken and Betty Simmons expanded their efforts and founded the Michigammes, an all-girl track and field club. This was at a time when no other extramural athletic programs existed for young women since many still believed that competitive sports somehow would harm their internal organs.

Goodridge amply repaid their efforts by setting a number of track records and becoming the first native-born Michigan woman to win a place on the U.S. Olympics team (Mexico City in 1968 and Munich in 1972). She set a national record for the half-mile indoor and a world record for the 660-meter indoor, both in 1967, and won the national indoor championship for the half-mile in 1970. Her 1,500-meter performance in the Munich semifinals was the second-fastest all-time performance by an American woman, and she retained that position for three more years.

She began her coaching career while still in college as a volunteer coach for the first girls’ interscholastic track and field teams at Huron High School and Clague Junior High. After graduation she held one of the first administrative athletic posts in a Division I university (at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee) after the passage of Title IX, then returned to Ann Arbor as the admissions director and a coach at Greenhills School.

With Simmons’ support, she took over as women’s track coach at the U-M in 1981, a job she held for three years before she and her husband, John Goodridge, left to coach the women’s and men’s track teams at Wake Forest University. While at Michigan her cross country and track and field teams won the program’s first NCAA Regional Cross Country Championship and posted the first NCAA Top Ten National finish with an eighth place in 1982, going on to win the first Big Ten Championship in track and field in 1983.

Today, Goodridge has returned to her educational roots as a counselor in the U-M Undergraduate Admissions Office. “I really enjoy representing the University, and my background in athletics, with years of experience in recruiting, going on school visits and making speeches, is a big help when I’m advising potential students, their families and guidance counselors,” she says.