File. Bowling Green State University’s Amy Velasco celebrates during the first half of a basketball game against Central Michigan Wednesday, Jan. 19, 2022, at the Stroh Center in Bowling Green, Ohio.

J.D. Pooley | Sentinel-Tribune

Bowling Green State University fifth year womens basketball coach Robyn Fralick and sophomore guard Amy Velasco are grateful for the “trailblazers” who came before them.

At the Stroh Center Wednesday, BGSU celebrated National Girls and Women in Sports Day during the Falcons’ 74-56 Mid-American Conference win over Western Michigan.

Fralick and Velasco did not hesitate to talk about the “impact” that sports has made on their lives.

“It’s the coolest day,” Fralick said. “I love the word ‘impact,’ because that’s what we talked about before the game today is what ‘impact’ means and the opportunities that we’ve had.

“I’ve had, and the kids I get to coach have, have come from trailblazers, and then we have an opportunity now to stay in pursuit of continuing to create more opportunities for more equality for women in sports.”

Velasco was a standout basketball player at Centerville High School before coming to Bowling Green, where she was named to the MAC’s All-Freshman Team in 2021-22.

“It’s so important and we are so thankful we have the opportunity to keep playing the sport we love because of those before us and showing a great example for those who will come,” Velasco said.

Fralick enjoyed a stellar playing career at Davidson College (2000-04). When she left the program, she was fourth in career assists, eighth in career steals and 12th in career free throw percentage. Fralick played in 114 games and started 64 contests for the Wildcats.

Fralick was an assistant coach at the University of Toledo during the 2007-08 season. She served as the director of basketball operations at Western Michigan University from 2005-07 and was an assistant coach at Appalachian State University during the 2004-05 campaign.

Fralick came to BGSU from Ashland University sporting a head-coaching record of 104-3, for an incredible winning percentage of .972. The Eagles won the NCAA Division II National Championship in 2016-17 before returning to the national championship game and earning a runner-up finish in ‘17-18.

Fralick and the Eagles advanced to the NCAA Division II national championship game four times between 2012 and 2018, with national championships in both 2013 and ‘17, and runner-up finishes in 2012 and ‘18. AU won 73 consecutive games, the longest streak in NCAA Division II history, before a loss in the 2018 national title game.

Wednesday’s BGSU game came on the heels of the previous Saturday’s anniversary of Title IX legislation mandating equality in sports for women and girls. Fralick says as a result, sports have had an impact on all women, whether they achieve the kind of status she has or not.

“If you look at all the research for women in sports, it’s like amazing what sports will do for you life from a confidence perspective, a health perspective and an academic perspective,” Fralick said. “It just goes on and on how beneficial and how important it is.”

Now that she’s coaching NCAA Division I basketball, Fralick sees a need to take advantage of the bigger platform she has.

“I’m proud that I’ve been able to be part of the sports world for so long and I feel an obligation, and our team feels a real responsibility for the platform we have to continue that,” Fralick said.

“To stay in pursuit of continuing to make things better for little kids watching in the stands one day want to be a (BGSU junior guard) Nyla Hampton, want to be a (junior guard) Lexi Fleming.

“I have a 6-year-old girl, so I know how it is because she watches everything they do. She talks to me all the time about them and it’s just a good reminder about the responsibility and the platform that we have.”