by Melissa Brunner
I visited this week with recent Washburn Rural graduate Haley Molden. She and Topeka Swim Association teammate Sammie Schurig head to Omaha next week to compete in the U.S. Olympic Swimming Trials.
What a great accomplishment and opportunity for them! And it strikes me that I'm marveling at their milestone during this week that will mark 40 years since Title IX came into being. The legislation provided that girls would have equal opportunity to boys when it came to school extracurriculars.
It's incredible to me to think of a time when I wouldn't have been able to try out for the school volleyball, basketball and track teams. To think we might never have cheered our Washburn and Emporia State women's teams to national titles, or K-State's women to the NIT championship. What if we'd never been amazed by Flo Jo or Jackie Joyner-Kersee or Alyson Felix and their speed and grace on the track? Can you imagine not seeing Mary Lou or Kerri Strugg soar in gymnastics?
And what if girls like Haley and Sammie never had the chance to be inspired by the likes of Janet Evans or Dara Torres or Natalie Coughlin?
Seeing women compete is such a part of our lives today that it seems unfathomable that they ever were relegated to the sidelines. While I understand Title IX remains the source of heated debate, I must also give a thanks to the girls who insisted on getting in the game.