WMU News

WMU touts progress of girls and women in sports

Feb. 5, 2002

KALAMAZOO -- In recognition of National Girls and Women in Sports Day, Western Michigan University and Kalamazoo College will showcase women who have been involved in athletics from the 1940s to the present as well as current female student athletes who are achieving excellence in their classrooms and communities.

The national theme, "Celebrating 30 Years of Title IX," is the focal point for the two-part program that begins at noon, Saturday, Feb. 9, in the Stone Room of Hicks Hall on the Kalamazoo College campus. Members of the public will get a chance to recognize honorees at 2 p.m. the same day, when the WMU women's basketball team takes on a team from the University of Toledo in WMU's University Arena.

Although Title IX applies to every aspect of education, it has played a prominent role in athletics over the last 30 years. From the equal treatment of female and male students in their opportunities to play sports to provisions for game scheduling, practice times, and medical treatment, the law prohibits gender discrimination in schools and universities that receive federal funds.

Established by Congress in 1986, National Girls and Women in Sports Day is celebrated each February, to acknowledge the achievements and importance of women in sports and fitness. The 2002 theme draws attention to the progress female athletes have made since 1972 when only one in 27 girls participated in high school sports. Today, one in three girls is active in high school athletics.

Among them are 26 local high school seniors, who were nominated by principals, athletic directors and coaches for their accomplishments in athletics, academics and community involvement and for their leadership potential. The honorees also will be recognized during halftime at the basketball game.

During the noon event, the audience will hear from six women who worked to ensure equity and access for female athletes before and after Title IX passed.

Tish Loveless, the legendary Kalamazoo College coach and athletic director who once was the winningest coach in the history of the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association, will discuss her experiences in the 1940s.

WMU's Jean Friedel, who coached every women's sport at the University, will talk about the 1950s, and former WMU swim coach Norma Stafford will discuss the 1960s.

Other speakers are Phyllis Cupp, a professor and coach at Glen Oaks Community College; Kalamazoo College volleyball coach Jeanne Hess and former Canadian National Volleyball Team Captain Heather Sawyer, a WMU graduate and adjunct faculty member.

"Because this is such a historic moment, we wanted to tap our heritage," says Dr. Debra S. Berkey, chairperson of WMU's Department of Health, Physical Education and Recreation. "Kalamazoo College and Western Michigan University have always been leaders here in southwest Michigan in women's athletics."

Organizers also will honor two local leaders in women's athletics.

Kathleen Hutfilz, a teacher and former athletic director at St. Louis (Mich.) High School, will receive the HPER Alumni Award, and WMU's Clara Gamble, professor emerita of dance, will receive a special recognition award.

The event is sponsored by WMU's College of Education, College of Health and Human Services, Division of Student Affairs, HPER Department and University Recreation and by Kalamazoo College's Office of the President and Department of Physical Education and Athletics.

This is the first year Kalamazoo College and WMU have joined forces to celebrate National Girls and Women in Sports Day, a move that is especially befitting, Berkey says.

"One of the reasons we've actually gotten somewhere in women's sports is because people collaborated," she said. "This collaboration reinforces the positive aspects of physical activity for girls and women."

Media contact: Gail H. Towns, 269 387-8400, gail.towns@wmich.edu

Office of University Relations
Western Michigan University
1903 W Michigan Ave
Kalamazoo MI 49008-5433 USA
269 387-8400