Rainbow Wahine reflect on how the program began, and its growth - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Rainbow Wahine reflect on how the program began, and it's growth after 45 years

Rainbow Wahine reflect on how the program began, and its growth after 45 years

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -

In the summer of 1972, following the passage of Title IX, Dr. Donnis Thompson secured $5,000 and sent her newly hired volleyball coach, Alan Kang, around Hawaii, and formed the first ever UH Women's volleyball team.

On Tuesday night, 45 years and thousands of Rainbow Wahine later, UH celebrated all that those female student athletes have accomplished and how the program has grown since that summer four and half decades ago.

When Marilyn Moniz-Kaho'ohanohano joined the first class of Rainbow Wahine at UH she was one of 20 female student athletes that became the genesis of gender equality in collegiate sports under the newly passed Title IX.

"I don't think we had the big scope of things, we just played volleyball and went to school and we actually got some stipends," said Moniz-Kahoohanohano. "I got my tuition paid for my junior and senior year even though tuition was only like $100 something dollars. But I'm a beneficiary directly of Title IX and I think a little later we realized what Title IX had done." 

Since that time the number of female student athletes per year at UH has increased more than ten fold. The quality of facilities and access to resources for the Rainbow Wahine has improved, and thousands of young women have received degrees financially aided by athletic scholarships... 

"It's had a tremendous impact even more so than athletics," said Moniz-Kahoohanohano, who was able to attend law school thanks in part to the anti-descrimination regulations included in Title IX. "I think it's changed the whole social fabric of our nation and what females could be, rather than the traditional nurse, teacher roles, secretary roles, to whatever you could be today. So it has empowered and strengthened all of our females and shown what all of our possibilities are." 

The roots of Title IX are actually tied to Hawaii -- in fact in 2002 it was named the Patsy Mink Equal Opportunity in Education Act in honor of the late Hawaii State Representative who helped Co-Author it as a bill.

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