Women’s Center talks Title IX and women in sports

The SCSU Women’s Center continued its 25 years of “Women on Wednesday” speaking engagements. This anniversary is called “25 years of Women who WOW.”
The second to last seminar was titled “Four Generations of Title IX: Personal Stories of Women Athletes.” The panel went from noon to 1 p.m. in the Atwood Little Theater. Title IX is a specific law stating that “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. To clarify, this means that no one is to be excluded from participation in any university related function based on gender.
This particular talk was centered on women’s participation in sports. Through Title IX all athletes, girl and female are allowed equal playing time, practice time and afforded equal education opportunities in the classroom and outside as well. With Title IX the participation of female athletes has increased from 300,000 in 1972 to more than 2.6 million today. Numbers of college athletes rose from 30,000 to more than 150,000. This seminar was co-sponsored by the University Department of Athletics to celebrate 40 years of Title IX.
The four panelists spanned four generations of women athletes with ties to SCSU. Panelists invited to speak were Heather Weems, director of Athletics at SCSU, Kellyn Craig, SCSU Student on the swim team, Lori Ulferts, professor of Kinesiology and former head women’s basketball coach, along with Val Chelgren Rogosheske, SCSU Physical Education graduate. The panel was led by Women’s Center graduate student, Kate Bennet.
Bennet began by asking each participant their background in sports, and how they think female involvement in sports can be positive. Craig explained she is originally from Denver, Colo. and came to SCSU for the swim team. Winning numerous titles, Craig is the school record holder for the 200 breaststroke, 200 individual medlay and the 400 individual medlay.
Ulferts explained her background in sports, her different varieties of sports in high school and college, including one year of professional basketball in England.
Chelgren Rogosheske participated in the Girls’ Athletic Association (GAA) where they were allowed to play each other but not other schools. She also explained she spent years hiking and running for fun, as well as her participation in the Boston Marathon.
Weems stated she believed one of the strongest things girls and women that participate in sports is that it gives girls and women confidence and a voice. Director Weems told of her time as a swimmer since age 6, and as a high school senior she also was active in various sports. In college, Weems joined the varsity rowing team for the University of Iowa, while earning a bachelor’s degree in psychology. She earned her master’s in higher education from the University of Denver.
Bennet asked the participants to describe any recollections of gender-based discrimination in sports. Chelgren Rogosheske cited her experience in the Boston Marathon. In the 1970s women athletes were accepted but not welcome in Boston.
Ulferts gave a sampling of a large list of hand-me-down uniforms, and the newspapers that didn’t cover sporting events in her time as a young coach.“I could go forever but cut me off,” Ulferts said.
Director Weems didn’t see much discrimination until college. However, she did note that on the rowing team there were only two boats for 80 people, and they never got to travel or new gear. Craig didn’t have many recollections of discrimination. The men and women teams swim together and train together. She said in high school there was an attempt at trying to switch the women’s and men’s games. The women played first, instead of the men’s team. When they decided to switch, people left.
The next question addressed the changes since Title IX. The answer assumed that women would be there, supporting others or being involved. Chelgren Rogosheske went in depth about her experience in the Boston Marathon, and how Title IX has implemented changes in women’s sworts for her four daughters. Two weeks before the Boston Marathon race women were allowed, she said. She stated there was a remarkable amount of excitement on her part at being apart of the race. Students at Wesley College were cheering her on.
The next question addressed violations of Title IX. Weems and Ulferts each shared basic examples of a violation. Low enrollment numbers were the major issue. Attempting to expand more opportunities and garner interest for women. Weems attempted to breakdown the difference between the rowing team and football teams. Another thing to think about to stop violations were women in higher education, scholarship opportunities for men, versus opportunities for women, and facilities. Dr. Ulferts added that money was a big deciding factor. It was tight.
“Sometimes it’s better to move forward than to fight.”
When asked if Title IX succeeded, Weems said that enthusiasm and ability to participate in youth sports was an issue. As the mother of four boys she wanted them to have the chance to participate. However, due to frustrated parents not being able to pay large sums of money for equipment, and travel expenses, many youth sports participants didn’t stick with it. That shortens their pool of available players. Women’s games are often Fridays at 3 p.m., when most high school girls can’t make it.
Bennet then asked if there were “any recommendations to support women athletics?”
Weems encouraged the audience to “put their money where their mouth was. Invest and show support.”
At the end, Bennet opened the floor to audience questions. Jane Olsen, director of the Women’s Center, asked about the benefits for women in sports.
Weems said that “it teaches us to compete. To stand up for ourselves.”

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