It was time to give the ladies their due.

The annual Salem News summer series has been male dominated at times: best North Shore football coaches in history; top five football players from each school; greatest games, matchups and quarterbacks.

Until now, we've never had a two-week series focusing solely on the great female athletes who have helped shape the North Shore sporting landscape.

You know some of today's biggest newsmakers from the area — and the nation — when it comes to women in sports: U.S. Olympic women's hockey captain Meghan Duggan of Danvers; Olympic medalist and Boston Marathoner Shalane Flanagan of Marblehead. But they're not what this series is about.

Who were some of the great North Shore female athletes from 20, 30, or 50 years ago who helped shape what the current landscape looks like? Did they get their just due, or have their stories been forgotten with the passage of time?

So we did some digging. We reached out to sources old and new and delved into photos long ago tucked away in file cabinets. What we found were some incredible stories that had to be told — if not for the first time, then told again to a new audience that deserves to know who these trailblazers are.

So we're extremely proud to present our eighth annual summer series, entitled Pioneering Spirit. It is not a ranked listing but rather an opportunity to allow the North Shore to take a look back and remember those who should be better known for their accomplishments.

The series, consisting of a dozen stories celebrating women who played sports in The Salem News coverage area, begins today and will continue every day for two weeks through Saturday, Aug. 29.

As always, we want your feedback — on our Facebook page, on Twitter (@salemnewsports), on the comments section of our stories and in emails to us (bsports@salemnews.com).

Most importantly, enjoy these stories. They're a celebration, after all — a celebration of some of the best and most influential female athletes in North Shore sports history.

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