IX AT 50: Manhattan grad, LPGA champ Deb Richard uses platform for giving

Published: Dec. 16, 2021 at 11:22 PM CST
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June 23, 1972, President Nixon signed Title IX into law, prohibiting sex discrimination in educational institutions that receive federal funding. Title IX has largely been considered the springboard for high school and collegiate women’s sports to get where they are today — but the fight for equality is far from over. Every Thursday night at 10:00 p.m. leading up to the 50th anniversary of the law’s passing, 13 Sports will honor the women who changed the game for girls’ and women’s sports in Kansas.

“IX at 50: The Trailblazers of Women’s Sports in Kansas”

MANHATTAN, Kan. (WIBW) - Deb Richard was 11 when her parents agreed to join the Manhattan Country Club so she could take up golf.

“I’m like, “Piece of cake.’ I’m a very confident kid when it comes to sports,” she said.

“I hit the, this little bitty pop fly into the trees off the first tee. And so I was like, ‘Huh, I don’t know that I like this,” Richard laughed. “Here I’ve hit it like 20, 25 yards. I still have 320 yards to go. And I’m like, this is just the first hole. That’s just awful.”

With a dedicated coach and a killer work ethic, she quickly improved.

At 13, she won the Kansas Junior State Championship. She’d go on to become a three-time state champion at Manhattan High.

With her pick of schools on the table, Richard took a visit to the University of Florida.

“I said, ‘I’ll tell you what, if you give me that full ride scholarship to come to the University of Florida, I’ll get you that first national championship,’” she said. “Pretty brazen comment for a 17 year old.”

Richard became the United States Women’s Amateur Champion the summer before her senior year.

That year, she delivered on that promise to her coach. Florida won the national championship in 1985,

“Booked it till the end,” she laughed.

She went pro after graduating, winning her first LPGA championship her second year.

“That win, what came after that, that domino effect after that totally changed my life,” she said.

She’d go on to win five more in five more in two decades on the Tour.

Off the links, she devoted her time to philanthropy.

“When I got outside the ropes, I had a platform to change the world, if I wanted to use it,” she said. “I wanted to use it. And I never looked back.”

She built three non-profits, including the Deb Richard Foundation — which gives college scholarships to students at Florida with physical disabilities.

Today, Richard has taken lessons learned in her golf career to the world business. She started her own company, Burlap Leaders.

“The more and more we have successful women expanding what is possible in both the sports arena and the business arena, the more we’re able to leverage it,” she said. “And the farther we’re gonna be able to go.”

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