50th Anniversary of Title IX and its impact on women’s sports

WTAP News @ 11- Title IX 50th anniversary
Published: Jun. 23, 2022 at 7:46 PM EDT
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PARKERSBURG, W.Va. (WTAP) - It was a labor of love. We made 200 dollars per year. Which we weren’t complaining, we were just thankful for the opportunity to just get it started,” says Susan Gardner.

Former coach, Susan Gardner won 13 state titles during her 35 years at Parkersburg high school.

However, it began with her and others fighting for women to compete in sports in 1975. Three years after Title IX was signed into action.

“And there were still no sports. But states around us were beginning to have girls’ athletics,” says Gardner. “And Judy Parrish and the late Sam Mandich went to the Principal’s Association with the proposal to get it started in West Virginia.”

It would start with basketball and track in 1975 followed by volleyball in 1979.

Soon after, Gardner and other pioneers for women’s sports would continue to hit the ground running.

As more women would continue to join.

“It was an opportunity that the girls just wanted so badly,” says Gardner. “And we were very competitive from the early beginnings, and we’ve done very well as a school because of Title IX. Because of the opportunity to compete.”

Title IX continues to be a significant impact on women to this day.

“I am extremely, incredibly thankful for Title IX because I grew up in women’s sports. Both of my older sisters played volleyball and I especially grew up in PHS volleyball. And having the opportunity to be able to go out and play for the community is insane,” says Parkersburg HS volleyball captain, Rylee Wise.

From girls getting the opportunity to play to women in administrative roles.

“So, if we are putting somebody in, for example, the R.O.A.C., male sport, we’re going to put the female sport in as well. And we just try to make it equitable for everybody,” says Parkersburg South HS athletic director, Jennifer Null.

Before Title IX, less than 300 thousand girls were in high school sports and only 15 percent of NCAA athletes were women.

Now there are over three million girls in high school sports and 44 percent of NCAA athletes are women.

Some say there is still progress to be made.

Such as increased budgets for women’s sports and more opportunities for women in coaching and administrative positions.

“I feel like there’s still a gap between female and men coaches and all of that honestly,” says Wise. “So, I feel like there could be some slight changes still with female coaches and their pay and everything like that.”

Even with the progress that some believe needs to be taken, Gardner says that she’s appreciative to see how far West Virginia has come since women’s sports have been introduced.

Especially at her alma mater.

Gardner says, “Parkersburg High School is known as the school of champions. And the girls are a big reason for that.”

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