Many female athletes and coaches have called Columbus home at one point or another in their lives. Some have just played here in Central Ohio; others were born here. However, they all have one thing in common: each has made an impact on women’s sports. 
To celebrate the 50th anniversary of Title IX, here are some notable women in sports, past and present, with Columbus ties: 
Stephanie Hightower
Stephanie Hightower ran track and field at The Ohio State University from 1977-1980, where she was a 15-time Big Ten champion and four-time All American. During her four years at Ohio State, Hightower was undefeated in Big Ten competition. She was part of the 1980 U.S. Olympic Track and Field Team, but never got to compete in the games due to a boycott. 
After her retirement from competitive running in 1988, Hightower stayed close to track. She was elected president and board chairman of USA Track and Field in 2008 and served as president until 2016. 
Hightower has also worked hard to develop the sports scene in Columbus throughout her career. She worked as a special assistant to the mayor from 1995-1999 to put Columbus on the sports map. Some of her work helped Columbus land the Blue Jackets in 2000. She currently serves as President & CEO of the Columbus Urban League.
Katie Smith
If anyone knows basketball, it's Katie Smith. Her career was filled with accolade after accolade, and she is not done yet. As a student athlete at Ohio State, Smith broke the Big Ten’s women’s basketball all-time scoring record. She stayed in Columbus after college, leading the Columbus Quest, a professional basketball team in the former American Basketball League, to two championships before moving to the WNBA. In 2007, she became the first female basketball player to score 6,000 points in a professional career. 
Smith retired from playing in 2013, but is still active in the WNBA as a coach. She currently serves as Associate Head Coach for the Minnesota Lynx. 
Jessica Davenport 
Jessica Davenport also has a lot of experience playing basketball in Columbus. She played at Independence High School where she was named a Women's Basketball Coaches Association All-American. She also played at Ohio State where she helped the Buckeyes earn a high seed in the 2005 NCAA tournament. 
In 2007, she was drafted by the San Antonio Stars with the second overall pick in the WNBA draft. Davenport finished her playing career with the Indiana Fever in 2012. She is now the Digital Experience Manager at Nike. 
Abby Steiner
Abby Steiner is a collegiate track star that has been breaking records since her days at Dublin Coffman High School. During her four years as a Rock, Steiner set a state record in the 100m and 200m outdoor events and was a 16-time state champion. Now at the University of Kentucky, Steiner recently set the collegiate record in the outdoor 200m and an American record in the indoor 200m. 
Steiner is a prime example of perseverance for young girls in Columbus and all over the country. Her sophomore and junior outdoor track seasons were cut short due to COVID-19 and injury, but that didn’t stop Steiner. It only motivated her to make her senior season at Kentucky one for the record books. 
Julie Plank 
Julie Plank has coached for various college and WNBA teams throughout her 27-year career. The Columbus native and Ohio State graduate served as an assistant coach for the Indiana Fever and Minnesota Lynx before becoming the head coach of the Washington Mystics ahead of the 2009 season. Plank was also an assistant coach for the U.S. Women’s National Team, earning a gold medal at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, Australia. 
Most recently, she served as an assistant coach for the University of Florida women’s basketball team during the 2021-22 season. 

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