Minnesota has the highest rate of girls playing high school sports per capita in the country, according to the National Federation of State High School Associations. Girls are close to passing boys in total participation in the state. Forty-nine percent of Minnesota's athletes are girls, which is also tops in the country.

A story in the Pioneer Press cites several reasons for the high number of girls playing sports. The state offers a wide variety of options, including some not available everywhere such as hockey, lacrosse and trap shooting. The success of the Minnesota Lynx is also considered a boon for girls' participation. Players like Lindsay Whalen, who just announced her retirement Monday, inspire younger girls.

In Owatonna, the first girls sport was gymnastics fifty years ago. An informal celebration of that anniversary will take place this Friday, August 17 at the Owatonna Country Club from 7-10 pm.

Personally, I have a daughter who played volleyball, softball and lacrosse at times during her school career. She also was in band and the school musical. The lessons she learned from those extracurricular activities are invaluable and it's hard to believe there was a time, before Title IX was passed in 1972, that these options weren't easily accessible for girls.