The 40th anniversary of Title IX was celebrated at Northland College, Thief River Falls, April 1, bringing together players and coaches from each decade since 1970, including Deb Jacobson, middle row, left.
Each month we ask our readers to respond to a question. For June we asked: What is your Title IX story?
Thank you Title IX!
It was because of Title IX that I got my first job. After graduating from Moorhead State in 1973, I spent the summer interviewing for physical education jobs. My former college basketball coach told me about an opening at Northland College in Thief River Falls. I didn't think I had much chance since I just graduated and had no previous experience, but I applied.
It became evident that the college understood the importance of Title IX. I was hired, as a part-time instructor in physical education and health, with the understanding that I would see to the creation of women's sports. On May 9, 1974, Northland College fielded its first varsity team (softball) for women. The following year volleyball and basketball were offered.
I retired from Northland after 34 years. I have seen many positive changes in women's athletics, but I am also concerned about the declining number of female coaches and athletic administrators.
Title IX is still a work in progress. Happy 40th Anniversary! Deb Jacobson, Thief River Falls, Minn.
'I coulda bin a contenda!'
Because my high school didn't offer swimming as a sport, I trained at the local YMCA on my way to the Olympic Trials in 1968. Upon graduation in 1971-as a result of unfortunate circumstances at home as well as the fact that no colleges at that time offered scholarships, much less a team-my promising career as a nationally ranked swimmer came to an end.
The next year, Title IX passed, athletic teams (and scholarships) for women opened up but by then, I had chosen another path. I do wonder how my life would have been different had I felt I belonged and could thrive as a strong athletic woman during those pivotal teen years. I am grateful that the passage of Title IX has opened so many doors so girls and women, like my daughter, have the opportunity to stretch their muscles and brains and bodies to the limit in the joy of organized sports. Jan Howland Truchan, Mounds View
I was fortunate to grow up during the late-1980s and '90s, when Title IX and the Girl Power movement ensured that I believed playing sports was not only my natural right but also a wholly positive thing to do. Thanks to Title IX, I had a varsity basketball team and a club lacrosse team to play for in college.
Now as an adult, I am aware of some of the complications that developed under Title IX along with the increased opportunities for women and girls. One such complication: Even though the number of coaching jobs in women's sports has increased significantly since 1972, the number of female coaches has decreased. A marked lack of female coaches-especially in collegiate sports-sends a subtle message to young women about their potential for attaining leadership roles in sports. C Lee Tressel, Minneapolis
A funny name
My mom asked if I wanted to play a sport with a funny name I'd never heard before when I was 7 and looking around for something to do. "Yes," I yelled. It did not matter I had no idea what soccer was. She said I needed to get something called cleats. When I heard that I worried because my dad never paid for anything. In the mid-1970s, my mom made $3-something an hour as a secretary. Yet off we went to the store, where she bought me the cheapest cleats possible. All plastic, black, with gray stripes. I didn't care. I loved the stripes.
Soon I became a member of a Bloomington Athletic Association's girls' soccer squad. That first year of soccer I got a purple jersey that said BAA across the front. I don't remember the number I chose that year, but I do remember choosing it. After the first practice, the coach called our names alphabetically and then, in front of everyone, we walked up to the pile of shirts, digging through it until we found the number we wanted. An only child, I'd lived in rural Minnesota until I was 6, where I had very little contact with other children. With great anticipation I watched how the other girls handled the pressure so that I, too, knew what to do when my name was called.
That season I played hard and learned the rules. I also learned there was a prevailing negative attitude toward girls' sports. People acted like it was strange, even funny, for girls to play sports. I hated that. I always wanted to win and play my best. I went nearly mad with passion when the refs would whistle a play dead if any of the girls ever touched each other, no matter how slight. I probably got tweeted on 80 percent of them, not because I was cheap, but because bumping another player is simply part of the game. And I wasn't afraid to do so. "Ref," I'd say. "Let us play!"
Thanks, Title IX, and all those who made it happen, including the young girls who suited up to make a law real. Christine Stark, Minneapolis, is a writer, speaker, and visual artist. In high school, she won Athlete of the Year and she was All-State in soccer. She went on to play soccer in college.
Send us your thoughts! In July our focus is collections. "What do you collect and what does it mean to you?" Tell us about it. Send a paragraph or two by June 10, 2012 to email@example.com
In August it's all about the numbers. "When was a time when 1 + 1 = 3 for you?" Send a paragraph or two by July 10, 2012 to firstname.lastname@example.org