"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."
Patsy T. Mink Equal Opportunity in Education Act,
Commonly refered to as Title IX
Saturday we had the end of season swim party and cookout for the Wildcats soccer team that Addie plays on and Jack coaches. It is an annual event to which we all look forward. We are so blessed to have such great girls and parents on our soccer team. It is a recreational team, no fees are paid and we don't travel to tournaments. Our girls aren't counting on college soccer scholarships or torturing their joints to practice and play. They show up on Thursday evenings to practice and Saturday mornings to play because they love the game. Ok, they also love the social event it provides, but they must love the game to work as hard as they do.
Jack has been coaching them since they were in kindergarten when one of the moms saw him be gentle and sweet with the girls and told the commissioner Jack should coach. He loves the competion, the game and the girls. He replays wins through half of Saturday and he replays loses until Sunday morning. It is his calling and he is great at it. After almost every game he gathers the girls on the bench and says, "Who had fun? I did." This is the speech whether they win or lose. Somehow, he makes them love winning without making them feel too badly about losing.
I can't help but think that part of why these girls are so devoted to recreational soccer is that they know they will be able to go on to play high school volleyball, soccer, basketball, softball, golf, swim, run track and cross country. That opportunity is due, in part, to Title IX, or the Patsy T. Mink Equal Opportunity in Education Act.
Texas and Oklahoma were forward thinking in allowing girls' atheletics. My Aunt Jewell, who is 91, played high school basketball. To this day, when she talks about her girlhood, basketball games take one of the top spots for storytelling. However, even southern schools needed the push from Title IX to help girls know that they had ATHLETES inside them. The power, self-confidence and self-reliance that comes with that one word, ATHLETES is transforming.
I saw that power in the girls at the swim party Saturday. They may have all started to wear make-up, gotten cell phones, become curvey and grown up over the past few years, but they are ATHLETES and they know (though, perhaps, subconsciously) what that means. They are powerful and self-reliant. I appreciate that soccer and other sports have given that to my own girls and the neighborhood girls whom I love.
Thank you, Jack and the other coaches who have given time to Amy, Angie and Addie and also the girls against whom they have competed. Thank you to the parents who forgo trips to the lake, housekeeping and yardwork to be at games. And THANK YOU to Patsy T. Mink for Title IX and what it has done for my girls and for so many other young women in this country.