Title IX: Owasso girls suit fought for equity
BY RHETT MORGAN World Staff Writer
Friday, July 27, 2012
7/27/12 at 7:41 AM
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Blazing a trail can be as unsettling as it is empowering.
Mimi Randolph can relate.
She was among seven Owasso softball players and their parents who in 1996 filed a U.S. District Court lawsuit alleging that the school district wasn't complying with Title IX, the federal law that made it illegal to deny educational benefits on the basis of gender.
"The hardest part was the unknown," said Randolph, who was only a sophomore when the lawsuit was initiated. "Our lawyers pretty much briefed us and said that they weren't really sure what kind of backlash we could get, whether there was going to be retaliation against us, whether we were going to get bullied at school.
"Owasso is pretty big and booming now, but back then it was still a pretty small town. Basically, we were fighting the way it's always been. That's the hardest part - changing the tradition of the small-town thinking."
Danny Hightower, Owasso's athletic director, was then an assistant coach for the softball team, which had won a state championship in 1995, despite its unequal treatment.
"I was always impressed how good those girls did as far as not being distracted," he said of the litigation. "It was amazing. They were good kids."
Randolph and her teammates played at Rayola Park, about a mile off campus. As part of the federal settlement, a new softball facility was built at the school with help from a 1997 bond proposition, said Lynn Johnson, an assistant superintendent at Owasso.
Randolph went on to play three seasons at a university in Monroe, La., before finishing her softball career at the University of Tulsa.
The new softball field in Owasso opened in the fall of 1998, three months after Randolph graduated from high school.
"It was exciting knowing there was going to be good coming out of it," said Randolph, who now sells insurance in Tulsa. "But I knew going into it, being the age that I was, that really the most I could have gotten out of it was new uniforms and just changing the way that it was done.
"I had one cousin that was a few years younger than me and a couple other female cousins that were several years younger than me. The way I looked at it was, just because I had the experience that I did at Owasso, doesn't mean all the generations after me have to."
Original Print Headline: Owasso girls' suit fought for equity
Rhett Morgan 918-581-8395
Mimi Randolph: She and her teammates feared a backlash from classmates