Title IX winners: Women discuss how law impacted their lives

Published: Sunday, June 24 2012 12:00 a.m. MDT

"They thought it was too taxing on women to run the full court," Williams said, laughing. "Seeing Cheryl Miller and women like her gave me a vision of what I could achieve. It would have been hard to say I wanted to be in the Olympics or a superstar basketball player if I'd never seen it. I don't know if I could have visualized that on my own."

She said the law is still vital to equal access today.

A coach in Region 10, she said last year the girls played Tuesday and Friday and on Tuesday they played at 7 p.m., while Friday they played at 5:15 p.m.

"This year, our region decided the boys always get the 7 o'clock game," she said. "I don't think that's fair. Really, we're not special enough so we have to always play at 5:15?"

The message women get is that they're less than their male counterparts, and that's not a message Williams wants her young players to heed.

Instead, she hopes they look to the successful college and professional athletes who continue to blaze trails for them and aspire to greatness as well.

"I don't think they understand how special it is to be able to watch professional women's sports, to watch women of that caliber compete," she said. "They really don't understand how lucky they are. To get to go to college for free because of sports, it's pretty amazing; it's a blessing. But I also think it's important to understand the history of why they have it."

Kim Norman

Kim Norman went out for every single sport Grand High School offered.

"I wanted to go out for football, but they wouldn't let me," said the 47-year-old head coach of Westminster College's volleyball team. "I loved all sports."

She said she benefited directly from Title lX.

"My generation was the time when people were getting written up and sanctioned for a lack of compliance," she said. "Kendra Tomsic was my high school coach and she fought tooth and nail to get us access."

When administrators told the girls they had to use the small gym at the middle school, Tomsic battled for equal time in the high school's gymnasium.

"We were definitely, constantly fighting and speaking about it," she said. "We knew we weren't being treated fairly."

And Title lX gave them a way to fight back, a way to earn opportunities that some would deny them.

"The law is what kept administrations aware," said Norman, who spent many years coaching high school volleyball and pioneering club programs here in Utah. "They knew they couldn't go back because there would be repercussions."

As for whether or not the law has out-lived its usefulness, she said it would be interesting to see what happened in the absence of a federal mandate.

"Women's sports has now prevailed as a major part of the economy," she said. "One of the biggest consumers of athletic gear and apparel is women."

Still, she sees Title lX in a similar light as other civil rights legislation.

"They're still on the books," she said. "And there are still problems.… Women are still paid less, we still don't have good minority or women coaching numbers. I think we've got some bastions as much as we're educated that we haven't mastered."

Carol Dain

Carol Dain's life would have included sports regardless of Title lX.

Born in Chicago and raised in the Denver area, she moved to Houston, Texas when she was 14 or 15 years old to study gymnastics with famed Romanian gymnastics coach, Bela Karolyi

Her goal was to make the Olympic team, and while she was the only gymnast working with Karolyi who attended traditional high school, she said she doesn't remember if sports were offered to women because she was so focused on her own goals.

"I remember we had football," she said with a laugh. "But I was so dedicated to gymnastics that two years of my life, I can't say what else was going on."