Title IX’s 40th Anniversary Celebrated by Women in Sports
Law meant gender equality in sports
ANCHORAGE - Equality in sports: It may be something many of us take for granted, but before something called Title IX, girls and women were definitely at a disadvantage as athletes. Saturday marks the 40th anniversary of the pivotal amendment.
Title IX has come a long way since its early beginnings. KTVA talked to Olympians and a legendary basketball coach about what it meant to them and their careers.
For world-class skiers Holly Brooks and Kikkan Randall, sports have always been part of their lives. “In high school I played soccer, I ran track, of course I skied,” said Holly Brooks.
“I grew up here in the community where we have run for women, bike for women, triathlon for women,” said Kikkan Randall. “For me growing up it was totally natural to be involved in sports and I realized for the previous generation it wasn't always like that.”
Before Title IX, all across the country, there was no such thing as girl sports. “The only thing for girls available was an intramural program,” said Dr. Teresa Johnson, the director of student services for ASAA, who was also a graduate of West High School in 1965. She didn't see official female sports until she later returned as a teacher and Title IX was just coming in. “There weren't a lot of women ready to be coaches and so those of us that had some athletic background were tapped to coach as many sports as we can handle in order to get the girls going.”
Times are different now. “Sometimes I even think to myself, these girls don't know how lucky they are that they have all these opportunities,” said Johnson.
Longtime Wasilla girls’ basketball coach Jeannie Hebert-Truax says she's benefited from the hard work of women who came before her. She graduated from Monroe Catholic high school in 1988 and got into the University of Miami on a basketball scholarship. She was one of the first women to go Division 1 in Alaska. “Nowadays you see four or five girls that go every year in something,” said Hebert-Truax.
Hebert-Truax shares stories of the old days with her athletes so they understand how sports have changed over the years. “I tell them hey you better be happy, appreciate what your getting because women your age ten years ago didn't get this, ” said Hebert-Truax. “When I was in college the equity you can see between the men and the girls program, every year it got better, our facilities were increased.”
Barriers have been broken. “Its made all the difference, not only for me but I think for all the new generations of girls that we have coming up,” said Brooks, who along with Randall say they've reaped the rewards. They participated in sports as young girls and now are inspirational women.
“It's a great tribute to honor the people who work so hard to make sure that we got the opportunities that we have now, and that we also continue to keep girls in sports so they can utilize all these great opportunities that we have and lead healthy active lifestyles,” said Randall. They are using what they've learned and passing it forward to the next generation.
“A lot of people are cheering for us as female athletes and they are excited to see girls kind of stand on the line and get there and race,” said Brooks.
Dr. Johnson says one impact of Title IX that makes her happy is the number of young girls and women who are running for fitness or joining athletic clubs. She says years ago you would have never seen women doing physical activities or getting fit – something the amendment adding sports has helped increase.