Special Contributor to CSNChicago.com
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.
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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