IX AT 50: Scholarship honors K-State Rowing’s pioneer

Published: Mar. 10, 2022 at 11:08 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) - When K-State’s rowing program became a Division I sport in 1996, Jenny Hale — a former rower at Harvard herself — stepped up to start the program from scratch.

“We just grew it, you know? It was a lot of hard work. Just myself and an assistant coach in the beginning,” Hale said. “What I found at K-State was that there was a genuine interest in having a competitive program. That’s why I took the job.”

Hale recruited wherever she could: at local basketball games, volleyball games, and even outside the student union.

That’s where she met Sara Swan Busse.

“It’s really just that personal connection when somebody comes up to you and lets you know that you’re worthy,” Busse said. “Here’s an opportunity for you. And that’s exactly what she did.”

Busse is one of 400+ student-athletes Hale coached in her seven years.

“She passed on to us to have a fire in our belly for rowing and for life,” Busse said.

To commemorate the 25th anniversary of the program, a group of Hale’s former athletes — Sara Swan Busse (’99), Heather Brunk Delleo (’99), Stephanie Tweito Jacob (’98), Donna Harris Weiner (’99) and Emily Benz (’02) — launched a new scholarship in her honor: the Jenny Hale Rowing Scholarship.

“It just floored me,” Hale said. “I was speechless.”

“This is a community that you can belong no matter what your station in life is, no matter how you identify no matter, what your economic level is — this is a place where everybody can get into a seat and pull together as a team and change your life,” Busse said.

The hope is to get more Wildcats on the water, while honoring the woman who started it all.

“Title IX gave us opportunity,” Busse said. It fulfilled its goal. It gave us an opportunity, and we want to ensure that that opportunity is gonna be there for just yet another student-athlete who might not normally have gotten a scholarship.”

“It comes back to you, and you realize that you did make a difference,” Hale said.

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