Title IX 40 years later
BY JIMMIE TRAMEL World Sports Writer
Sunday, August 12, 2012
8/12/12 at 8:04 AM
Related Story: Oklahoma unique in some girls sports, and it works
Happy birthday, Title IX.
The landmark legislation was enacted 40 years ago, and it played a monumental role in helping to level the playing field for female athletes.
Title IX's game-changing words: "No person in the U.S. shall, on the basis of sex be excluded from participation in, or denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any educational program or activity receiving federal aid."
In honor of girl power, we present you with 20 significant female sports figures with Oklahoma ties who can be looked upon as role models or pioneers in women's athletics.
Pioneers in women’s athletics with Oklahoma ties
Courtesy / LPGA
Susie Maxwell Berning
Oklahoma City University didn't have a women's golf team when Berning wrapped up a stellar high school career (three state championships) at Oklahoma City Northeast. But then-OCU athletic director Abe Lemons was persuaded to let her play on the men's team, according to her Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame bio, which states: "She was one of their best players (but) did not get a lot of playing time because the male players did not want to compete against her." Female players probably didn't like facing her, either. Berning was the LPGA's rookie of the year in 1964 and won the U.S. Women's Open three times.
Litsch played 6-on-6 high school basketball in tiny Thomas, Okla., but she's a big name in the state's hoops history. She became the first women's basketball player inducted in the NAIA Hall of Fame, and this is why: She was a four-time All-American at Southwestern State and three-time Player of the Year, leading the Lady Bulldogs to three national titles, two undefeated seasons and a four-year record of 129-5. Don't be fooled by the fact that she chose to play NAIA ball. She would have been a star at any campus.
Bertha Frank Teague
If anyone creates a Mount Rushmore featuring faces of girls high school basketball coaches in this state, the first face to be chiseled should be Teague's. She coached 43 years at Byng High School and won 90 percent of her games. Her teams won eight state championships, 40 district crowns and 38 conference titles. Five Teague-coached squads went unbeaten, and she more than doubled University of Oklahoma football coach Bud Wilkinson's legendary streak by winning 98 consecutive games from 1936-38.
A high school basketball All-American from California, Paris chose to attend OU with twin sister Ashley and immediately became a Sooner superstar.
Courtney was a four-time All-American (the first in AP and USBWA history) and she set 20 NCAA, 57 Big 12 and 69 school records, including an NCAA record for consecutive games (112) with a double-double. She also was the first collegiate player - never mind gender - to collect 2,500 career points and 2,000 career rebounds.
In 1990, the University of Oklahoma thought so little of women's basketball that school officials announced they were killing the program. Attendance was poor and the program was swimming in crimson ink. Public outrage forced OU to keep the sport and, in 1996, the Sooners took a chance by hiring Norman High School's coach (Coale) to helm the program. That was three Final Fours ago for Coale, who transformed OU into a national power and made Sooner fans care about something other than football.
Lopez grew up in New Mexico and won that state's women's amateur golf championship when she was 12. Dale McNamara persuaded the prodigy to play collegiately at the University of Tulsa. Lopez spent two years at TU, turned pro and became the first person ever to pull off the triple crown of being the LPGA rookie of the year, player of the year and Vare Trophy (lowest scoring average on tour) recipient in the same season. A two-time Associated Press female athlete of the year, Lopez is in the World Golf Hall of Fame.
Yow, a former Oral Roberts University basketball coach, is in the school's athletic hall of fame. She coached the Lady Titans for two years and led them to a 26-1 record during the 1982-83 season. But she made a bigger mark as a pioneer in sports administration. When hired as St. Louis University's athletic director in 1990, there were 289 male ADs and only six female ADs in Division I. She has since gone on to serve as athletic director at Maryland and North Carolina State. Street & Smith's Business Journal once named her one of the 20 most influential individuals in college sports.
It's fair to say Peters did it all as an athlete, coach and administrator at the University of Central Oklahoma. She competed in basketball, field hockey, swimming and volleyball for four years. Then she became a coach in 1958 and guided the women's basketball, field hockey, track and field, volleyball and men's and women's fencing teams during a UCO career that lasted until 1980. She also served as coordinator of women's intercollegiate sports and women's athletic director for 32 years, and oversaw the women's intramural sports program for 20 years. And you think you're busy?
What's a Romanian gymnast doing on an Oklahoma list? The Olympic icon is married to American gymnast Bart Conner, who has an academy in Norman. Their presence here is among reasons why Sports Illustrated referred to football-mad Oklahoma as a "gymnastics hotbed" during the magazine's 50-state tour in 2003. Comaneci, who in 1976 became the first female gymnast in modern Olympic history to be awarded a perfect score of 10 in an event, won three gold medals that year and added two more in 1980.
MacLeod is the first and only woman to be the athletic director of an NCAA Division I program in Oklahoma. A former basketball player at Puget Sound, MacLeod spent 16 months as Tulsa's interim athletic director before that tag was removed in 1997. She left in 2005 to become an assistant commissioner at Conference USA. Now an executive associate commissioner, she was recently appointed to the NCAA men's basketball tournament selection committee. She will be the third woman to serve on the committee. Texas San-Antonio athletic director Lynn Hickey of Welch, Okla., was the second (who could easily be on this list as well).
A successful former OSU women's golf coach, Pitts took her employer to court for equal pay in 1993. She sued OSU and got a pay raise, but - long story short - the legal wrangling led to her retiring before she was ready. "I believed in what I stood for," Pitts told the Tulsa World in 2000. "I'm sorry not all know or believe the whole story. I'm not ashamed of standing up. In sports, you have to believe in yourself. That's what I've always told my players. I believe in myself. So if the lawsuit is what I'm known for, I'm OK with that." Pitts told Golfweek her actions helped other female coaches at OSU move up the pay scale.
A Canadian import, Dales put the OU basketball program on the map by leading the Sooners to the 2002 NCAA championship game. Dales was a two-time Big 12 player of the year and departed Norman as the league's all-time assist leader. The third overall pick in the 2002 WNBA draft, Dales transitioned from player to media. She was in the ESPN talent stable for seven years before joining the NFL Network in 2009.
McNamara was a seven-time state amateur golf champion. Then she really made her mark. McNamara spent 26 years as the women's golf coach at TU and led the Golden Hurricane to four national championships. She was the national coach of the year in 1985 (when her team won eight of 13 tournaments) and she's in the National Collegiate Golf Hall of Fame. Gender equity? She also briefly coached the TU men's team.
"Beep, beep." That's what Riley said over Gallagher-Iba Arena's public address system when she was introduced to fans prior to her freshman season at OSU. That was her way of telling fans she was as fast as the Roadrunner cartoon character. Good luck catching her. Four years later, Riley was the 13th-leading scorer in NCAA history and the Cowgirls had made three NCAA Tournament trips. She was a first-round pick in the 2010 WNBA draft.
Rhonda Kite Fields
Trivia question: Who was the first full-scholarship female athlete in OSU history? It was Fields, a former Panama High School standout who came along at the right time (post-Title IX) to get more than 40 scholarship offers after playing junior college ball at Eastern State College. Fields also was OSU's first female pro (WBL). If contributions as a mom count, she's the mother of two sons, including pro baseball player and former OSU quarterback Josh Fields.
How about this for a title? Miller is the most decorated gymnast, male or female, in U.S. history. Miller, who is from Edmond, owns 15 Olympic or World Championship medals. At the 1996 Olympics, she was a member of the first U.S. gymnastics team to win an Olympic team gold medal.
While at Atoka High School, Robinson moonlighted as a player for the boys baseball team. She may have been as good as any girls high school basketball player in state history and was a three-time NAIA All-American at Southeastern State. Robinson played in the ABL (a rival to the WNBA) and was an ABL rookie of the year. She was a first-round WNBA draft pick in 1999 and helped the New York Liberty to six playoff trips in seven seasons. She also played two seasons with the Washington Mystics.
Hynes, an Okemah native, was coaching at Putnam City High School when she was offered the chance to become Oklahoma's softball coach, a position she held from 1977-84. Hynes was successful (three AIAW College World Series), but her body of work during a 28-year OU career as a coach and administrator was much broader in scope.
Athletic director Joe Castiglione told the Sports Business Journal that Hynes was a trailblazer who ushered women's athletics into the modern era at OU. "Marita's vision, passion and relentless efforts helped elevate opportunity and competition to a national stage for female student athletes," he said. "Without her, the NCAA Women's College World Series may have never existed as we know it today." Hynes once lobbied for OU to hire a Norman High School basketball coach named Sherri Coale. How did that turn out?
Madeline Manning Mims
Manning Mims was a 20-year-old Tennessee State student when she set an 800-meter world record and won gold at the 1968 Olympics. Oklahoma can claim the Ohio native as an adopted daughter because she chose to settle in Tulsa and further her education at Oral Roberts University. From 1967-80, she won 10 national indoor and outdoor titles. At age 32, she won a 1980 Olympic trial in record time, but was denied a fourth Olympic trip because of a U.S. boycott. Through? Not by a long shot. She is one of four U.S. Olympic chaplains at the London Games.
Lured to OSU from New Jersey, Smith became a global softball star. A four-time All-Big Eight player and two-time All-American, she rewrote OSU's pitching records and is all over the record book as a hitter. Smith played for gold medal-winning Olympic teams in 1996 and 2000. She played professionally in Japan, where she was named a league MVP nine times.
Jimmie Tramel 918-581-8389
Rhonda Kite Fields
Bertha Frank Teague