Title IX legislation helped female athletes in valley find their place
“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 ...” — Title IX, a portion of the United States Code Section 20
What is Title IX?
“Let me Google it; find it with my smart phone,” Grand Junction High School golfer Kayla Roberts said.
Numerous other Grand Valley high school female athletes attempted to answer the question. A common response: “What the heck is that?”
Then the girls were told the Colorado House of Representatives last month honored the 40th anniversary of the Title IX Legislation, which, in part, allowed women to play in the same sports as men.
Roberts, for one, added a response. “I appreciate that day 40 years ago.”
There is much for female athletes to appreciate about Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972.
Said Grand Junction High School girls basketball coach Sam Provenza: “I don’t think they understand the gravity of what Title IX did for them. That’s not a bad thing. That means it’s working.”
We’ll never know.
Before Title IX, many of them went undiscovered, a generation left behind, their talents known only in places such as the Pueblo Centennial High School’s playground.
Provenza remembers her from 1971. Margaret Sartin, playground legend.
“She was one of the best,” Provenza said. “She had to be on our (playground) team; she was a very good shooter.”
But she didn’t have the opportunity to play on a high school team. Instead, Provenza said, she became a gymnast at Louisiana State University.
Before Title IX, the majority of female high school athletes were cheerleaders remembers Dennis Teeters, a coach at Fruita Junior High from 1973-77 and eventual District 51 athletic director from 1985-2000.
Some girls could play intramural games in the Girls Athletic Association, however. For Dolores Smith, mother of Sue Moyer-Broderdorp, a Grand Junction High School basketball player from 1975-78, there was a six-on-six version of basketball — three on offense, three on defense. Opposite sides of the court.
“I remember my mom telling me about it when she played,” Moyer-Broderdorp said. “She graduated form Grand Junction High School in 1945.”
That’s where it stopped for Smith.
We’ll never know.
Moyer-Broderdorp, on the other hand, played tennis and basketball at Mesa State College in 1979-80 before transferring the next year to play basketball at Northern Colorado.
On June 23, 1972, Title IX passed, cracking the dam blocking a plethora of female talent. Change was seen in attendance, participation, athleticism and beyond.
“You wondered how fast they would develop,” said Bud Smock, Mesa State College’s women’s basketball coach from 1986-88. “It’s developed much faster than I thought. Girls want to compete. The women wanted to be involved, and they should be.”
In 1974, the Colorado High School Activities Association sanctioned gymnastics as the first high school girls sport. Other sports, already played by boys, followed suit.
A decade after Title IX, the young female talent began to burn its cloak.
There was PattiSue Plumer, who as a senior in 1980 at Montrose High School took third at the Colorado state meet in the 2- and 3-mile runs.
Then, after winning an NCAA championship in the 5,000 meters and 2-mile runs at Stanford University, she twice ran for the United States in the Summer Olympics — she would place fifth in the 3,000 meters during the 1992 Barcelona Games.
“There is a long, long list of young ladies in our valley that went and participated in college,” Teeters said. “I think the opportunity to participate helped them immensely.”
Without Title IX, the Fruita Monument High School girls would not have won back-to-back Class 3A state basketball championships in 1982 and ‘83.
Meanwhile, at Mesa, the uniforms were lagging behind the hype. The white shorts and tops with maroon stripes weren’t just for volleyball. The basketball team wore the same set in the winter. Then the hand-me-downs went to the softball team.
Jack Scott first noticed the multi-sport unis when he took over as Mesa’s women’s basketball coach in 1979.
“I couldn’t believe it,” he said. “I think it was unsanitary.”
There was no bus, Scott remembers.
The players packed into a van. Scott doubled as driver.
Once, in 1986, Mesa saved on expenses by not having the women’s basketball team stay in a hotel after a game in Green River, Wyo.
So, Scott recalls, they drove back that night, avoiding a hotel expense as well as the cost of next morning’s breakfasts.
Throughout the women’s sporting revolution, basketball changes included the addition of a 30-second shot clock in college and, of course, those smaller basketballs.
Moyer-Broderdorp remember the new basketballs in 1983, her final year at Northern Colorado.
One giant stride for womankind.
“It’s amazing the difference it makes,” Moyer-Broderdorp said. “It sped up the game for women.”
Female athletes were reeling in lost time from decades of exclusion.
Forty years later, Baylor’s Brittney Griner is dunking and dangling two-handed from the rim.
“It’s insane how crazy it is,” Moyer-Broderdorp said. “Oh, my gosh, just how the women move.”
Before Title IX, Provenza remembers some high school girls could compete individually in tennis, gymnastics and swimming.
Then CHSAA sanctioned high school girls gymnastics (‘74), tennis, track and volleyball (‘75), basketball (‘76), soccer and cross country (‘78) and softball (‘87.)
“Prior to 1973, when that thing (Title IX) happened, all female athletes went to school with no opportunities,” Teeters said.
Teeters’ granddaughter, Grand Junction senior Jamie Derrieux, has used basketball to land a scholarship to attend the University of Northern Colorado. Derrieux, for one, knows about Title IX.
“It’s the reason I’m able to play college sports,” she said.
Jamie Derrieux’s mother, Jill, and aunt, Jamie Teeters — Dennis Teeters’ daughters — attended Mesa on basketball scholarships.
They are but a few Title IX babies.
Still, many current high schoolers have not been educated on the legislation that afforded them sporting equality.
“I thought it was a new golf movement or something,” said Grand Junction High golfer Maya Freismuth.
“Like, ‘We are Title 9 — unite.’ ”