» By Danielle Hunter
APSU celebrated women in athletics this past Friday, April 5 and Saturday, April 6, in part to honor the 40th anniversary of federal legislation Title IX. Title IX, enacted on June 23, 1972, states that any sport or educational program that is funded by the government is required to share gender equality.
The Celebration of Women in Athletics at APSU is a yearly event that aims to highlight the success of women in sports, recognize and encourage further growth of women’s athletics and raise money for an endowment and women’s athletic programs at APSU.
A celebration dinner for women in athletics and Title IX was held in the Foy Fitness and Recreation Center on Friday night, April 5. Every current female athletic team at APSU was invited, along with alumni and the athletic department. The dinner’s spotlight was on assistant athletics director and notable coach, Cheryl Holt. President Tim Hall also shared a few remarks.
Six APSU female athletic alumni were presented in a panel discussion, where the women shared how Title IX and APSU athletics shaped their lives.
“The Celebration of Women in Athletics originated to celebrate the dedication and determination of our former and current student athletes,” said Holt.
Athletics Marketing & Promotions Coordinator Alaric Klinghard started the evening’s events with a brief history of Title IX and shared inspiring words on the success of past female athletes, and the need to continue to move forward.
Hall shared a short speech on the importance of the celebration of an “often neglected group”: women athletes.
“[The purpose of the Celebration of Women in Athletics is] to recognize the outstanding achievements of our women sports programs and to raise funds for an endowment that will support the athletes in those programs,” Hall said, who also informed the audience that, at the time of his speech, the endowment raised $45,000 through the celebration events.
The fund raising goal for the event was to reach $100,000. By the end of the night, with the help of softball alumni Ginny Gray Davis, the goal reached its halfway point. All proceeds from the Fun Walk to Celebrate Women on Saturday, April 6, morning also went towards the female athletic program and endowment.
“Title IX changed the landscape for college athletics,” Hall said. “As the president, I go out and visit our alumni. I won’t tell you how many stories I can tell you about men who came [to APSU as the] first men in their families to ever go to college … Having an athletic scholarship [was essential] to getting into college and getting through college. Now the sad thing is I don’t hear so many of those stories from our women.” Hall explained the reason he didn’t hear these stories was because before Title IX was enacted, the funding and playing field was nowhere near level.
“I can honestly say, and I mean this with the bottom of my heart, that we are celebrating women’s athletics because of the initiatives of President Tim Hall,” Holt said.
Each of the six alumni panelists for the event represented a specific sport and shared stories of how they either benefited from Title IX and were able to play sports at APSU, or the adversities they faced and fought through to achieve their aspirations as athletes.
In addition, almost every panelist joked around with Holt and shared stories of the days they had her as a coach and mentor.
Panelist and alumna Ginny Gray Davis was only seven years old when Title IX was passed; however, she informed the audience that when she was in college, even after Title IX, the women’s athletic softball program and funding was very poor. After taking a tour of the softball field and utilities at the first Celebration of Women in Athletics, she was very proud of how far the program has come. She praised the progress of both APSU and Title IX, and said that she hopes “the endowment will take [APSU women’s athletics] even further.”
The 40th anniversary events also included a Fun Walk to Celebrate Women on Saturday, April 6, to help raise awareness and funds for women athletics. The fun walk started beside Cheryl Holt Softball Field and many members of the APSU community participated along with several APSU athletic teams.