IX AT 50: Kathy Allen winningest coach in Baker history

Published: May. 5, 2022 at 10:51 PM CDT
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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”

BALDWIN CITY, Kan. (WIBW) - Kathy Allen says her life would look much different had Title IX not passed June 23, 1972.

“I am at, like, the perfect Title IX age, because it passed when I was in high school, and I have literally benefited from it my entire career,” Allen said. “Then being able to help other girls benefit from it, and now that it’s the 50th anniversary of Title IX, develop an understanding of how important that legislation was. Because before, we couldn’t play. We didn’t play.”

Lansing High School offered volleyball for the first time her sophomore year.

“We practiced way early in the morning with terrible equipment, no padding on the standards,” she said. “Our parents made our uniforms. They were homemade uniforms. We had the sports, but it was still boy sports that ruled the roost. But at least they offered them. I got to play.”

Fast forward two decades later: Kathy was working in her family’s insurance business.

“My daughter had just turned 10 or 11,” she said. “My sister-in-law and I decided that we would coach a little club team. So we put nine or 10 girls together and we called them Topeka Juniors. "

The next year, 150 girls showed up to tryouts. Allen led the club for more than a decade and won two national titles.

She then took a graduate assistant job at Emporia State, coached varsity volleyball at St. Marys High School, and served as interim coach at Washburn before accepting the head coaching job at Baker University.

In 18 seasons, she’d become the winningest coach ever at Baker.

Allen left her post in 2016 ranked 14th in the NAIA career wins list and 25th all-time in NAIA career winning percentage.

That’s not what she looks back on as her most important contribution to the sport.

“One of the most important things to me is that I was able to provide an opportunity for hundreds of girls and women through club programs, through college programs — and that they look back on those opportunities, and they might not remember what the win loss record was. They might not remember the exact details of any game or what their stats were, but what they remembered was they got to play. They got to be a part of something that was bigger than them that helped shape their futures,” she said.

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