Girls and Women in Sports Day and Title IX to be recognized this week
By Jonathan Mizger/Sports Information Staff
WILLIMANTIC, Conn. -- Female athletics will take center stage this week with the celebration of two major milestones in the advancement of athletic opportunities for women.
Eastern Connecticut State University will be celebrating the 40th anniversary of Title IX as well as the 27th annual National Girls and Women in Sports Day in a two-day celebration this week.
On Tuesday, Feb. 5, women's basketball will host Western Connecticut State University in a Little East Conference game at 5:30 p.m. at Francis E. Geissler Gymnasium. In recognition of National Girls' and Women in Sports Day, youth, elementary and middle school girls' basketball are invited to attend the game wearing their team uniform and receive free admission.
The next day, Wednesday, Feb. 6, the 40th anniversary of Title IX legislation is officially celebrated nationwide. The legislation which became law on June 23, 1972 changed the landscape of collegiate athletics and reads: "No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance."
At 11 a.m. at the Student Center Wednesday, Eastern will showcase the film Hero for Daisy, which is a documentary about two-time Olympian Chris Ernst and her 1976 rowing team at Yale University, which protested the lack of proper facilities for women.
At 3 p.m. in the Paul E. Johnson Room in the J. Eugene Smith Library Wednesday, Eastern is hosting a Title IX forum as part of the University Hour program.
To get more into Title IX, I was given the chance to read a study on how Title IX has made an impact in our nation. From The Status of Women in Intercollegiate Athletics as Title IX Turns 40 by Amy Wilson (Instructor, Education Department of Illinois College and PhD Candidate, Heath and Sports Studies at University of Iowa) stated: "Title IX consists of 37 words that mandated change in American education by making discrimination based on sex illegal thereby expanding access and opportunities for the underrepresented sex, which historically has been women."
Wilson described how Title IX should be supported and considered for continued process. Wilson stated: "The law's 40th anniversary offers us an appropriate occasion to reflect on our own philosophies of intercollegiate sport. If we value sport for young people and champion its many benefits, then we will strive for comparable participation opportunities and treatment for all student-athletes. Title IX's promise is that it serves as a powerful tool and a potent reminder that it takes much effort and diligence to bring about a model of intercollegiate athletics that is equitable and fair to all."
The guest panelists at Eastern's Title IX Forum are: Christina Amato, Dr. Jennifer Bruening, Tom Farrey, Theresa Grentz, and Carolyn Vanacore.
Amato played basketball at Eastern from 2005-2009, where she served as a senior captain, was a recipient of the prestigious Holly Zimmerman Memorial Award, and graduated with a degree in Sport and Leisure Management. The Marlboro, MA native is currently the Director of Recreation and Chair of Physical Education at Colgate University.
At right: Christina Amato
Bruening is the Director of the Laboratory for Sport Management at the University of Connecticut and has been part of the University's Sport Management Program since January 2002. Bruening spent eight years as an athletic administrator and volleyball coach at Kenyon College, as well as two years as an athletic director.
Farrey is a reporter and journalist for television, print, and online media for ESPN and has won two sports journalism Emmy Awards for Outside the Lines. Farrey, a graduate of the University of Florida, has been with ESPN since 1996 when he was the deputy editor of ESPN.com. Farrey is the author of Game On: The All-American Race to Make Champions of Our Children, recognized among experts and universities like Oregon State and University of Florida as leading journalistic work on modern youth sports.
Grentz was a former women's collegiate basketball player and coach and served as head coach for the United States at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics. She was a member of the Immaculata College Mighty Macs and led the team to win three straight AIAW national championships from 1972 to 1974. Grentz coached for 32 years at Saint Joseph's University, Rutgers University, and the University of Illinois and is a member of the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame.
Vanacore is a Professor Emeritus at Southern Connecticut State University, where she was an Assistant Professor of Women's Physical Education.
The event will be sponsored by the President's Office, the Office of Equality and Diversity, the Eastern Athletic Department, the Office of Institutional Advancement, the Health and Physical Education Department and the Women's Center, a Division of Student Affairs.
Spreading the growth of women's athletics is one of the key points that Eastern women's head basketball coach Denise Bierly stated. "Get the word out about women's athletics and where we've come from and where we are today in 2013 and where we still need to go," said Bierly. "The panel will do a good job of discussing where we've been, where we've come from, how far it's come and then where we still need to go."
Bierly had the good fortune playing and coaching with the help of Title IX, but there were obstacles that Bierly faced prior to the iplementation of Tite IX.
"I remember in fifth grade we didn't have any youth girls basketball where I grew up and if I wanted to play I had to play with the boys. I remember even playing on a boys baseball team because there was no girls softball," said Bierly. "For me, I kind of came when [Title IX] was getting started and I've been fortunate to have a lot of the rewards from it, especially in my coaching career.
"I've been at Eastern for 19 years and have been well-supported by our administration. I look at the people that came before me and all the fights they had just to get a uniform or just to get balls. It's a reminder to me of where the people that came before me that how much I try to think about how the battles they fought and to help all of us women and girls in sports have the opportunities to play."
Dr. Charlie Chatterton, Eastern's NCAA Faculty Athletic Representative and an Associate Professor in the Department of Health and Physical Education, had insight on how Title IX affected his family.
"I think back to my own family and my experiences and I have five sisters," said Chatterton. "My older sister she was always playing sports and I use to often see how some of the opportunities I had and facilities that I had were often not on the same par with what she had. When she was going up and she was in high school in the late 70s early 80s and even in middle school, junior high and late elementary, I remember going to the different games and contests and didn't think twice about it. I was just going to watch her game. Thinking about it now in retrospect, we had the boys' gym and there was the smaller girls' gym and we typically played our games at night in high school and my sister's were usually in the afternoon. What's neat [from Title IX] is now I see the many of the opportunities are available for my children and it's terrific. There's always room to improve but I see quite the contrast."
Both Bierly and Chatterton agree on educating the students at Eastern, the community around Eastern, and nationally about the importance and significance of Title IX.
"It's a very important piece of legislation and it's something that I think all of us, myself included, need to continue to learn about it, be more educated about it, and understand all that's part of it," said Chatterton.
We look forward to hearing from pioneers of the Title IX movement as the panel will talk about the past, present, and future of Title IX.