Title IX marks 40th Anniversary

Honolulu (HawaiiNewsNow) – Saturday, June 23, 2012 marked the 40th anniversary of "Title IX." The law was co-sponsored by Hawaii Congresswoman Patsy Mink and following her death, it was renamed "The Patsy T. Mink Equal Opportunity in Education Act."

In 1972, less than 300,000 females played high school sports. There are currently around three-million playing today. Title IX is made up of just 37-words; it took just one sentence to level the playing field for female student-athletes.

"That one, those few words, or that one paragraph that she wrote changed sports and education forever," said Barbara Perry, a former member of the 1968 U.S. Olympic Women's Volleyball team.

Co-authored by Hawaii Congresswoman Patsy Mink, Title IX turned 40 on Saturday. The Federal law revolutionized education for women but it's most commonly known as the bill that gave females equal access to athletics.

"I had amazing opportunities because of some pretty amazing women that created the opportunity for someone to play," said Kari Ambrozich.

Ambrozich played volleyball at UH from 1991-1994, and says it's likely that Title IX had an impact on her getting a scholarship. Former volleyball player Barbara Perry says there were few opportunities for women before the law.

"We drove to games, our uniforms weren't the best," said Perry, "we didn't have a lot of things that the men had, if there we're two gyms at a school, we got the smaller gym."

It wasn't until her junior year in high school when Perry was allowed to play volleyball. She went on to the University of Hawaii and took part in club play because there wasn't a volleyball program at the time. That all changed in 1972, just as Title IX went into effect, UH created the program. Current Associate Athletic Director Marilyn Moniz-Kaho'ohanohano is one the school's first beneficiaries of Title IX. She is the first female four-year letter-winner at UH and says sports had a huge impact on her success in life.

"You learn to work hard to push beyond, to take the extra jump or the extra hit, or the extra push," said Kaho'ohanohano, "and to push yourself beyond what you physically and mentally thought you could do."

Kaho'ohanohano says that complete equality hasn't been reached in athletics yet, but they're doing what they can at UH to close the gap. They've recently added sand volleyball and will keep looking to add additional programs.

"In the future, because of the strength of our high school girl wrestlers, that would be another sport to look at," said Kaho'ohanohano.

Speaking of women's wrestling in Hawaii, both Roosevelt grad Clarissa Chun and Moanalua alum Stephanie Lee have also benefited from Title IX. Chun captured a wrestling state title in 1998 which is the first year girls wrestling became a sport in Hawaii. They both will be chasing their Olympic dreams this summer.