Gene's Blog: Women's progress on display near and far
July 02, 2012
UST's Kirsten Haukoos is planning a career in sports as a personal trainer or wellness coordinator. (Greg Smith photo)
St. Thomas associate athletics director JoAnn Andregg recalls growing up in California in the early 1960s and playing baseball and playground sports with her brother.
“Whatever he played, I played,” she said. “My dad took my brother to sign up for little league baseball and he tried to sign me up, too. They wouldn’t let him sign up a girl.”
Andregg recently shared additional observations on Title IX, the federal law enacted 40 years ago in the summer of 1972. She was interviewed recently by reporter Alex Friedrich of Minnesota Public Radio.
Andregg explained that in her California high school in the late 1960s and early 1970s, women's volleyball and basketball took a backseat to the boys’ teams in access to the gym, coaches, budgets, and even uniforms and equipment. In many states and high schools at that time, girls’ sports were treated like intramurals or PE class.
"That usually meant we got in there after the boys' team was finished practicing," Andregg said. "We had to wear these God-awful uniforms, these one-piece uniforms for practice and games. I remember that so distinctly."
Andregg worked at St. Thomas when females were first admitted as students in 1977. She became one of the first head coaches. That was five years after Title IX was enacted, a time when girls and women’s sports were starting to see gains.
She praised St. Thomas’ athletics leadership, as Tommie women’s sports teams were launched with an immediate commitment to succeed. Equality was a priority here from the start, not only in general terms but is specifics like coaching, budgets, equipment and travel. It’s no coincidence that six of the first nine national team championships were won by Tommie women.
On the MIAC level, St. Thomas has won 127 women’s team championships, twice the number of the next institution, Gustavus.
One dramatic result of Title IX legislation is the higher participation rate for girls in sports. The Minnesota Public Radio story noted that today six times as many females play NCAA college sports than did in 1972. In high schools, the girls; participation rate is 10 times the figure from 40 years ago.
Road races and marathons were almost exclusively male activities before 1980, but the last 20 years tell a different story. According to runningusa.org, total finishers in U.S. road races have increased from 25 percent female in 1990 to 53 percent by 2010.
Alyssa Favilla was a freshman on last year’s 31-2 UST women’s basketball team that placed third in the nation. While working recently at Coach Ruth Sinn’s girls’ basketball camp, Favilla was interviewed by the MPR’s Friedrich and discussed the benefits of playing sports.
"They taught me time management — and how to be a competitor," she said. "And I use that in the classroom, too."
Another sign of changing times for women comes from St. Thomas’ tennis team. One of Coach Terry Peck’s players, Kirsten Haukoos, helps coach the “C’ team at a local high school. But instead of coaching girls, Haukoos actually coached boys at Cretin-Derham Hall.
“It was definitely a new perspective on coaching, one that I really enjoyed,” said Haukoos, a Health Promotions major who’ll be a senior in 2012-2013.
“I’ve grown up coaching at a country club in my hometown, coaching both boys and girls. Going from coaching mixed gender classes to specifically boys was definitely a new experience. Overall, I would say the season was a success; the team ended up 2-2, and the boys were really proud of themselves. The boys that wanted to be there tried hard and really listened to coaching advice, whether that was from me or the B team coach, who also helped at our practices.”
Haukoos is hoping to expand her expertise beyond just tennis instruction.
“I hope my college degree can lead me to a job in the fitness industry, such as personal training or wellness planning for larger corporations.” Haukoos said. “I think that because I’m involved in athletics, and have been all of my life, I understand the limits people are able to push through to reach their goals. As an athlete, fitness is very important to me, and although it is not as important to some people, I hope to be able to give fitness more value in some people's lives. Fitness can be life changing, depending on how you go about it. Being involved in fitness and athletics has definitely impacted and shaped who I am today.”
Haukoos agreed that women’s sports have come a long way in the 40 years since Title IX was enacted.
“Women want to be treated fairly,” she said. “As the years pass, sports are becoming more and more competitive for women. I feel some women are/were previously hesitant to join sports because they were afraid they wouldn't be as competitive, or get teased. Now that they can be surrounded in a "girls only" environment if they chose, they typically are not afraid to give it their all, get a little sweaty and work to their highest potential.”