Preps Talk

For female athletes, value of sports goes beyond playing

New Trier coach Teri Rodgers addresses her players during a game against Conant. (Ed Gjertsen)

For female athletes, value of sports goes beyond playing

Giuliana Allegrotti

Special Contributor to

Before Teri Rodgers took over the girls' basketball program at New Trier High School in 1999, all the team's games were played in G110, a smaller practice gym on campus adjacent to the main gym, where the boys played. The whole setup felt stringent to Rodgers; the main gym somehow belonged to the boys and G110 belonged to the girls.

It was also something that bothered Rodgers. She said she was conscious of the message her female players were getting by holding their games in a smaller, inferior gym and one of her first acts as head coach was to move the girls to the main gym.

While female athletes don't have to fight for equal gym access on a regular basis, getting people to watch their games and care about what they're doing on the court or field is still a struggle. That ongoing battle, says Rodgers and women of her generation, is one girls today are equipped to fight.

"When Title IX was passed, on most college campuses, the only sports that got treated with any level of respect were men's football and men's basketball," DePaul athletic director Jean Lenti Ponsetto said at a recent "Women in Sports Symposium" on the history and effects of Title IX, the 1972 legislation which ensured equal athletic opportunities for men and women.

The symposium was held to promote NBC Sports Regional Networks' documentary TOMBOY. It will debut Monday at 9 p.m. on CSN.

Ponsetto, a beneficiary of Title IX herself, played four sports at DePaul in the mid-70s and now is one of just 37 female athletic directors in Division I sports.

"I'd like to think one of the things we do at DePaul with both our male and female athletes is respect and understand the struggle of the women and men who went before them," she said.

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Breaking: RB Williams pledges to Iowa


Breaking: RB Williams pledges to Iowa

It didn't take very long for Oak Lawn Richards three star ranked junior RB LeShon Williams (5-foot-10, 205 pounds) to give the Iowa Hawkeyes his verbal commitment. Williams, who added a scholarship offer from Iowa yesterday decided this afternoon to commit to the Hawkeyes and announced his college decision via his Twitter account. 

"For me it was really all about the tradition and the culture (at Iowa)," according to Williams. "It's always been a dram of mine to play in the Big 10 conference, so why not play for Iowa and get to play again with one of my old teammates."

Williams, who is holding 16 scholarship offers this spring will join former Richards quarterback/safety Sebastian Castro who is part of the Class of 2019 for the Hawkeyes. Williams is now the 10th known verbal commitment in the Iowa Class of 2020 and is also the third known State of Illinois pledge for Iowa. Williams joins Byron three star ranked OL Tyler Elsbury along with Lena-Winslow three star ranked defensive end Isaiah Bruce as Land of Lincoln commitments. 

Quarterback JJ McCarthy commits to Michigan

NBC Sports Chicago

Quarterback JJ McCarthy commits to Michigan

Nazareth Academy sophomore quarterback JJ McCarthy (6-foot-2, 180 pounds), who had an All State season in 2018 leading the Roadrunners to the Class 7A state title decided to give the Michigan Wolverines his verbal commitment today while making a return unofficial visit to the Ann Arbor, Michigan, campus.

“I have a list of all the things I need to check off before I make my decision,” McCarthy told's Midwest Recruiting Expert Josh Helmholdt. “It’s a literal piece of paper I have at home, and Michigan checked every single one of those boxes.”

Among the various factors for McCarthy in deciding upon Michigan included location, academics along with preparing him for the next level of football.

“With all the NFL ties Michigan has, especially quarterback-wise with coach (Jim) Harbaugh and coach (Ben) McDaniels, it’s really a no-brainer for me,” McCarthy said. “When I hear ‘Michigan,’ I think of Tom Brady. He’s the greatest of all time and he’s an alum… at my position too.”

McCarthy, who was already holding over 30 verbal scholarship offers including offers from multiple Power 5 programs is the second known verbal commitment in the Michigan Wolverines Class of 2021 joining Stevenson Sterling Heights (Mich.) ranked offensive tackle Giovanni El Hadi.

McCarthy is now the fourth known verbal commitment from the state of Illinois Class of 2021, joining Antioch sophomore QB Athan Kaliakmanis (Minnesota) and his brother Dino Kaliakmanis (Minnesota) and Naperville Central sophomore QB/ATH Sam Jackson (Minnesota).