If you haven’t had a chance to check it out, read Terry Vandrovec’s Sunday and Monday stories on Title IX, where we were and where we are going. Those stories contain links to the other pieces that appeared in the section the past two days.
I wrote a story chronicling the ups and downs of women’s sports in the early 1970s. Unfortunately, a lot of good stuff had to be left out.
So I give you the best of the rest:
Ruth Rehn, former South Dakota High School Activities Association assistant executive director in charge of girls sports.
On the speed of change: “When Title IX was passed, I don’t think anyone thought that it would be an overnight process. Everything that was done obviously affected someone or somebody. It was like a lot of advocates for girls sports thought people weren’t moving fast enough, then you had the boys coaches and a lot of the administration thinking things were moving too fast. They wanted to wait. It was a time when there was a lot of frustration on both sides because of those types of issues.”
On the first time she noticed Title IX changes: “The first area that I probably noticed the big difference is in physical education class. You had more integration of boys and girls in physical education class, which is common now. Before that time it was when they separated. I think the other issue that happened at the high school level, there was a debate that when Title IX was passed, it was any institution receiving federal funds. Then there was a thought, “well, high schools don’t receive federal funds. There was a lot of language and interpretation. There was a lot of misunderstanding and what title IX meant.”
On whether there was some pushback from schools on complying with Title IX: “We couldn’t tell them how to run their programs. We sent out guidelines. It was easy for the schools to start basketball. They would pattern it very similarly to the boys program. In basketball, maybe it was the subtle inequities. Perhaps they didn’t get uniforms as often as the boys, they may not have had their travel to state tournaments might not have been the same school. Some schools treated them exactly the same. The more difficult thing was getting some of the other sports started and going. It was hard to start volleyball. The boys weren’t playing volleyball. It was hard even though there was gymnastics started, there was difficulty for some gymnastics programs. Schools didn’t want the equipment, there might not have been a special room. In volleyball, the same way. I think it was a lot of those struggles. A lot at that time the girls coaches were never paid the same as the boys coaches. We couldn’t mandate that. “
On whether she was satisfied with the progress in the 1970s: “Everything was progress because it started from almost zero. It was good. What happened later on, probably even in the late 1980s, sometimes you kind of plated, and people almost forgot to keep on pushing for things. Or they would take things for granted. At the beginning, with everything being new, it was the buzzword and thing to do, there was a lot of progress made, even though some people might not have liked what they were doing, but it was done. South Dakota has always looked out for their students and boys and girls and I think they have tried to do the best in the situation. Could some of it had been better? I don’t think anything was that dreadful. There were areas where things could have improved. I’m sure there are instances of things happening that I’m not aware of. It was very difficult. I was sometimes frustrated because things moved too slowly. Forward progress is better than no progress.”
On much longer would it have taken South Dakota to add girls sports if Title IX didn’t pass: “A lot of member schools would have come to them and said, ‘Let’s start something.’ It’s hard to imagine what would have happened without Title IX. A state like Iowa, the continued with basketball when most of the country quit playing basketball in the late 1920s. It’s also a mindset of society. As time moved along, society would have demanded it. Title IX came out of pressure from educators. There might have been something else in a different form.”
On how she feels about the attention girls sports receive: “I used to be frustrated with the attendance, and today you don’t have as many people attending a girls state tournament as you do a boys event. Our society is that way. They are just not going to support the girls as well as they do the boys. That maybe goes with the larger the school, the more you will see that.”
Q.C. Miles, former Northwestern superintendent and SDHSAA board member.
On what girls sports were like in the early 1970s: “It was the old guys who didn’t believe girls should be in sports that caused the implementation of Title IX. There were a lot of us younger guys who had already started programs for girls. What got me started was when my daughter got into school. She was the best athlete I had – better than the boys, but there was nothing for her to do besides being a cheerleader. The only thing that pushed Title IX was once we got started they didn’t think we were going fast enough.”
On whether or not communities were reluctant to adapt: “In most communities didn’t do it because it was mandated, they did it because they finally came to the realization that we aren’t being as true to as our girls as to our boys. We are short-changing them.”
On his impact of getting three classes in basketball: “The thing I am most famous for is as a member of the board of control. I was the one who changed classes. In 1984, they had voted several times to go to three classes in basketball. They finally ran this amendment to give the board of control the power to change it. When we had to make that vote in 1984, there were three members who were highly opposed and three who were highly in favor. I saw right away that my vote was going to decide the issue. I was superintendent of Clark. Clark didn’t want to go to three classes because it meant they would have to play (a tougher schedule). I always felt that the activities association increased the number of ‘A’ schools from 16 to 32, that those 16 schools they had disfranchised them from participating in the state tournaments. … I made the vote to go to three classes and made some friends and some bitter enemies. Some good friends of mine haven’t spoken to me since. The fact that they haven’t changed it must have meant it was a pretty good vote.”
Pat Dobratz, former South Dakota State women’s basketball standout in the early 1970s. She went on to coach the University of Idaho in the 1980s.
On what it was like at SDSU before Title IX: “I did college ball 1970 through 1974. Title IX came in 1972. When we first started out in college, there was no scholarships. You used your PE uniform and put on your vest the first two years. We traveled to games. The two coaches and the grad assistant would drive us and we would drive back in the same day. Two years later, in 1972, we got uniforms. They paid for uniforms and we qualified for regionals. We bussed down and that was the first time we ever went in a bus. We went to nationals and they flew us in a plane. We were at the beginning edge of it.”
Don Jorgensen, on the SDHSAA board during the 1970s
On what girls basketball was like when it first started in 1975: “It is like anything else, the first year it started it was pretty crude. The first basketball game we had in our school, if they had called all of the turnovers, we might still be there. But the improvement, even the four years that I was on the board there was vast improvement. The first tournaments were not widely attended and it wasn’t popular to start with but that’s changed, too.”
Mignonne (Volin) Schwebach, the state champion in the first girls state tennis tournament in 1969
On the state of women’s – and men’s – sports: “It’s pretty equal right now. It’s fantastic. I feel bad for some of the sports at the college level. They can do soccer for women and not for men because of Title IX. It has pros and cons. Definitely women have made a huge step forward. Even like USF, they have women’s tennis and not men’s tennis. (It would be nice) to try and even (the sports).”
Lisa Van Goor, former Yankton basketball standout:
On her experiences as a freshman in 1976: “I don’t know that we were lacking. We took busses everywhere. Went to McDonalds after a game. On the court, we had really great following. We had won the first state tournament the year before. Yankton had built the reputation of being really good. I almost quit as a freshman because I thought I was really bad, but coach (Bob) Winter talked me into keeping with it.”
On the season being played in the fall: “When Diane (Hiemstra) and I were seniors in 1980, she was always a really good player, so she was noticed on the national scene sooner than I was. There were a lot of Division I coaches who didn’t know that South Dakota didn’t play in the fall. That has changed tremendously over the years in South Dakota. The girls get more exposure now.”