IX AT 50: From UCLA hoops, Topeka’s Greene becomes 11-time state racquetball champ

Published: Apr. 14, 2022 at 10:51 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

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”

TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Each trophy on Jane Greene’s wall holds the memories of what she calls “the perfect sport.”

“There’s kill shots, which means you hit the ball really low to the ground. And when you get a good kill shot - or an ace serve, or you hit a ceiling shot and a person swings at it and they can’t get it, it’s just fun,” she said.

The former UCLA basketball player wasn’t ready to hang up her athletic career after graduation.

So, she picked up racquetball.

“It was a perfect sport for me. Plus it’s a thinking person’s game, which I really enjoyed,” she said. “There weren’t as many women’s tournaments, and there weren’t very many good women players, so I played in the men’s division.”

Some competitors were ready to compete. Others, not so much.

“They would not play. They’d say, ‘I’m withdrawing,’” she remembers. “I had a couple times where guys would forfeit because they didn’t want to play with me. And several occasions where they were overly aggressive. Like clearly hit me on purpose.”

Still, she played on.

And won — a lot.

“My skill just got better and better and better,” she said.

Greene won 11 state titles and was even invited to the 1993 U.S. Olympic Festival.

“It was the Olympics trying to decide whether racquetball should be an Olympic sport,” Greene said. “It was an off-year for the Olympics. We went to San Antonio, and it was really a neat experience.”

Throughout her career, more tournaments for women popped up as participation numbers grew.

Greene hopes every woman has a spot in the game and is valued for her ability.

“Maybe they will say, ‘Wow, that’s an athlete.’ And not think, ‘That’s a great female athlete,’” she said. “‘That’s an amazing athlete.’”

Copyright 2022 WIBW. All rights reserved.