On 50th anniversary of Title IX, Sky reflect on past experiences and what’s needed for future generations

LOS ANGELES — Each member of the Sky has a unique story about what Title IX has meant in their lives and how the law has shaped their opportunities.

Allie Quigley shared conversations she had with her mother about the stark difference between her experience as a collegiate athlete and her daughters.

2021 WNBA Finals MVP Kahleah Copper explained how she grew up playing on boys’ summer basketball teams because they were more competitive and the opportunities for young women were limited.

When considering the legislation’s 50th anniversary, Candace Parker reflected on an afternoon her daughter, Lailaa came home from school after a boy told her, “Girls can’t be superheroes.”

The next day, Lailaa wore her mom’s Captain Marvel Adidas shoes to school.

“Lailaa is not going to suffer from the thought that she is not enough,” Parker said. “That is a huge step in my job as a parent, making sure she know she is powerful. She can do whatever she wants to do and she deserves to walk into any room that she works hard enough to walk into. I’ll be the first person in line if there’s a rule that boys get something that girls can’t have access to and she knows that.”

The most common thread in all of the Sky’s stories is the belief that each generation of women will experience better than the last. That belief comes with an understanding that the generation before each of their own experienced worse.

Sky assistant coach, Tonya Edwards, who grew up in Flint, Michigan enrolled at the University of Tennessee in 1986, 14 years after Title IX was signed into law by President Richard Nixon.

During her recruitment process, she took visits to the University of Michigan and Michigan State. The emphasis at both schools was on the football program Edwards recalls. When she got to Tennessee the difference was clear. Pat Summitt wasn’t just checking a box in the fight for equity, she was setting the standard.

“During my time, the [University of Tennessee] men’s basketball program moved to a new facility and the women’s program moved with them,” Edwards said. “There was no, stay and play in the old gym. It was eye-opening for the rest of the country. During that time, in the 80s we sold out the arena. It was unheralded.”

Title IX is reactive and in order to be upheld requires reporting from students, teachers, coaches and other leaders when there are discrepancies. The best and most recent example of the importance of upholding Title IX is Oregon’s Sedona Prince exposing blatant inequities between the men’s and women’s NCAA March Madness tournaments.

In the first week of June, Quigley, Copper, Dana Evans and Courtney Vandersloot attended the opening of a refurbished softball field at Rosenblum Park in South Shore. When it was their turn to jump on the mic and address the young athletes and their families, Quigley emphatically expressed the importance of Title IX.

She told the attendees that the outcome of this law being upheld doesn’t mean every young woman who plays sports will be a professional athlete. Some of them might end up becoming doctors, teachers, coaches, business leaders and police officers, she said.

What’s important is that they have the same opportunity to succeed.

“When we were all younger and maybe more so for the women who came before us it was almost like that’s the way it’s supposed to be,” Vandersloot said. “That’s something we have to change. It’s not supposed to be this way. Women need equal opportunities.”

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