On the anniversary of Title IX I would like to sincerely thank Edith Green the mastermind behind Title IX, and Senator Patsy Mink for co-authoring the statue that forever has changed my life. Growing up in the 60's and 70's as a young female athlete was challenging. But initially not as challenging as one might think. My introduction to sports was on the playground and in the street. I was a kid--just a kid not a boy not a girl. The world of children and the playground was forgiving and unrelenting all at the same time. It was a time when you just played. If kids were mean to each other, the group level set. If kids were accepting the group on that particular day handled it. No adult involvement was needed.
Ignorance was bliss back then and you really never thought of equity. Boys played sports and girls wore pretty pink dresses--especially for school. I remember going to school for the first time and my mom told me that I was required to wear a dress?! I was horrified! My mother, grandmother, and aunts would wrangle me into a dress for church, and on holidays. But everyday??? I had to wear a dress to school? I was miserable an incredibly fearful. My stomach cramped up at the thought--I physically reacted to this--crazy eh? I am actually surprised that I didn't hate school! But I didn't, and I sucked it up--like we all did back then. This left it's mark on me--I had to think of being different and be forced to conform to something I did not believe in because of my gender. I always wondered--WHY?
In school, boys and girls played on the segregated playgrounds actually separated by a fence--boys on one side girls on the other. Girls played hop scotch and jacks and maybe the occasional tag while the boys played basketball, touch football, and baseball. I remember peering through the chain link fence staring forlornly into the boys side wishing I could play with them.
After school we would all boys and girls (mostly the boys and I) run down to the ball field after school to choose sides and play pick up. There I was in my glory. Just a player...not a girl or a boy...just a player. I quickly rose to the ranks in the sand lot as I was promoted from the outfield to the infield then to the coveted position of on the field leader--the short stop. At bat, from middle of the line up to first to clean up hitter...a leader on the field at age 10.
I quickly found out however what it meant to be a girl. In early 70's in the world of adults and sport structure there were rules. My resume of being captain of the sand lot, picking the teams, and motivating my squad in our make believe world meant nothing to the adults. When I arrived to try out I was told that I didn't fit the criteria...I was not male. I wondered WHY?
My world was rocked. I could not wear the uniform that I dreamed about wearing. Why?? I did not understand...I was not as brash as I am today so there was no "well I am going to do it anyway...I'll storm the administration...we can demand equity"...the adults ruled in my world and I was told no...end of story. I was angry and hurt. I would never be a part of the fabulous world of little league that the boys enjoyed...the parents cheered for them, the scoreboard tended to, snackbar available...all in their honor--what a glorious happy time for them. I was on the sidelines cheering on my friends or taking stats. Even the boy who was picked last, who couldn't run the bases, he had a spot on the bench--my sandlot leadership meant nothing--I was a girl. I could hit it out of the park, play shortstop, and bark out orders to the boys, yet in the adult world of the rules of baseball I did not matter. My gender mattered more than my performance. This shocking, painful, reality made me who I am today...
Today, I am the USA Hockey Lead Mentor Coach and am also a scout for Team USA National Women's Hockey Program. I recently retired from Brown University as their head ice hockey coach after 23 years and I now own a consulting company advising student athletes on their college choices.