Gusties celebrate Title IX anniversary

Emma EstebStaff Writer

This past Saturday, Oct. 8, Gustavus celebrated the 50th anniversary of Title IX. The Athletics department hosted an anniversary event in the Lund Center, where both current and former female athletes were able to socialize, celebrate, and admire the newly renovated Lund Center. Attendees were able to watch a slideshow that showcased female athletes over the years and an interview with Gretchen Koehler, former Gustavus coach and avid pioneer of equal rights for female athletes on campus. In her interview she talked about the impact of Title IX on the college and also touched on the significant changes in the last 50 years.  

All current and former female athletes were given a shirt that represented the idea of Gusties being togetHER. These athletes, along with past and present coaches of female athletics were recognized at the beginning of the Gustavus women’s soccer game and at halftime during the Homecoming football game. Dr. Nicole LaVoi was presented with the Making a Difference award at this time in honor of her contributions to her research of gender equality and equity in sports.

 Although this event was just a single day, Gustavus is continuing to celebrate their female student-athletes this year in the light of Title IX. “The 50th anniversary celebration was super rewarding to be a part of. Title IX and its establishment and continued focus is the reason I am able to play softball at Gustavus. Being recognized as a female athlete and seeing other incredible athletes highlighted made me so proud to be a part of it,” Senior softball infielder Kate Murray said.   

Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in education programs recieving Federal financial assistance. Athletics continue to be a major component of this law and Title IX has impacted thousands of female athletes in various settings. Gustavus’ celebration of Title IX brought many former and current female student-athletes together to be recognized. “When Title IX was signed into law in 1972, it was the first and remains the only codified law that makes it illegal to disriminate someone based on their sex,” Gustauvs Gymnastics Coach Aryn DeGrood said. 

The first major impact that Title IX had was giving women the chance to participate in sports. Over the past 50 years, women’s athletics has made major strides and female athletes have been given so many opportunities to compete at a high level. “I know that my mom has said that when the law was passed it wasn’t necessarily equal back then. It’s been so cool to hear about the progression of Title IX and all of the opportunities that it has given me now. As a track and field athlete where I am able to have the same workouts and coaches as the male athletes makes me really appreciate and understand the impact of Title IX,” Junior track athlete Shae Anderson said. 

This law allowed and forced the professional sports organizations to pick up women’s athletics. The NCAA picked up women’s athletics after that but it was still a long time before championships happened for female athletes. Title IX has created so many opportunities for young women and continues to impact them everyday. “For one, Title IX has given me a job. We have a program here and we are supported. I was also able to pursue my love of both gymnastics and track as a college athlete here at Gustavus and I was able to do it in high school, as well,” DeGrood said. 

The large population of female athletes here on campus emphasizes the impact that Title IX has made. “Sports have impacted me in an overly positive way my entire life. It’s given me a lot of power and confidence in the things that I do and it has made me see that I have a lot more to me than just school or friends or intelligence,” Senior women’s hockey defenseman Heather Olinger said. Sports are a defining and character building experience that would not have been possible without the passing of Title IX. 

The female athletes at Gustavus take pride when representing themselves and the school. “Being a Gustie athlete gives me the opportunity to represent something bigger than myself. I am proud to play basketball for an institution that holds all of us to such high standards as a person and a player,” Junior women’s basketball forward Izzy Quick said. 

The lessons, relationships, and opportunities that female athletes are given today are a huge part of the Gustavus community. The celebration of Title IX was the perfect way to highlight all of the success of our female athletes. “The passing of Title IX has given me so many opportunities. Not only have I been able to compete at a high level, but having the same opportunities as men is so encouraging. Because of this milestone, women have been able to pave the way and make a name for female athletics and themselves,” Murray said. Unity, togetherness, and equity are three things that Gustie female athletes stand for and will continue to for the next 50 years.

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