Before Title IX Babies, There Were Title IX MomsJune 22, 2012
Before dropping me off at a volleyball tournament that I was playing at her alma mater, my Mom said something to me in passing. “Look for me on the hall of fame wall.”
After the game at McClintock High School in Tempe, Arizona, I somewhat unexcitedly trudged, hindered by massive knee pads, through the gym lobby on my way out. I remembered to look for her maiden and not her married name, but it wouldn’t have been difficult to pick her out anyway among the crew cuts and ties that dominated the brick wall.
It would be disingenuous to describe my bratty 13-year-old self as fully aware of what I was seeing when I spotted the portrait of Tanya Taylor on the wall. But I don’t think it’s a coincidence that, all these years later, I remember the plaque but not how many aces I served that day.
Before I knew enough about history and women’s issues to appreciate Title IX, I knew that the trailblazing that women like my mom did before Title IX was enforced allowed girls like me, socially and practically, to be athletes.
Though she was also a cheerleader, golf was the reason that my Mom was in the hall of fame — the second woman to be inducted. At the time, golf and tennis were the only girls’ sports teams that she remembers competing in state tournaments. Though she wanted to play softball and run track, she was encouraged to stick to sports that were more “ladylike.” Regardless, the school mostly only offered intramural sports for girls.
When my Mom was a junior, the girls’ golf team brought home the state championship — only the second state title in McClintock’s history. The next year, the team were runners-up.
By the time she graduated in 1977, Title IX had already started making a difference at her high school. Girls were now swimming and diving in greater numbers, and there were new girls’ track and gymnastics teams.
Decades later, my Mom has shuttled me across town and across the country to countless golf, rowing, softball, cross-country, volleyball, and basketball events. She says she just assumed that her daughters would be athletes.
Mom has seen Title IX work wonders as a parent, a teacher, and a girls’ golf coach. But she also sees how far we still have to go. As a coach, she sees that at some schools, the girls’ tennis and golf teams have to share uniforms while the boys’ teams get their own. In other cases, the boys’ football or basketball teams get free meals before games while the girls are expected to feed themselves after long matches after school.
And at her alma mater, she’s seen her own sports legacy essentially erased. The hall of fame disappeared when the gym was renovated. Someone told her that the school threw away the plaques. And when Mom visited McClintock last year, she saw that the boys’ golf teams from the 70s — which didn’t win any championships — were displayed in cases, while the girls’ championship and runner-up trophies were nowhere to be found. Seeing this made her blood boil. “It’s like what we did there never existed, I never existed,” she says. What’s worse is that when my Mom complained, a district athletic director was hostile and dismissive.
This week, we’ve been looking back at Title IX’s 40-year legacy, and for many of us, that legacy is very personal. This 37-word law wasn’t intended to revolutionize women’s sports, but I hope that with our hard work, Title IX can foster legacies like my Mom’s and help us remember the trailblazing women who took the law’s potential and ran with it.
My Mom is a McClintock sports legend regardless of where they tossed her trophies and plaque. Who are the Title IX stars in your family?