CMU student-athletes return to campus as nation celebrates 50th anniversary of Title IX
Fifty years ago, 37 words changed the trajectory of educational history: “No person in the United States shall, because of his or her sex, be excluded from participation, denied benefits, or made discriminated against in a federally assisted educational program or activity.
By enacting Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, Congress opened the door for all students to participate in athletics and other activities, but the implementation of this was neither quick nor easy. What June 23, 1972 marks is the start date of the continued work of educational administrators, faculty, staff, and attorneys to enforce this decision and make it a reality. Progress also rested on the courage, hard work and perseverance of those who did not let a slowly evolving equity system stop them from pursuing their dreams.
Deb (Green) Cain played basketball for CMU during her final two years of undergraduate school from 1989-1991 and is eternally grateful for the positive impact Title IX had on her future.
“I think it’s very important to participate in sports or activities like the marching band. It gives you leadership, dedication, teamwork – everything you need to be successful in the real world,” Deb said. “It’s fun to see where my former teammates are in life. It’s fun how basketball has brought us all together, but it’s also allowed us to succeed.
Her husband, Paul Cain, was also a student-athlete basketball player. He now plays a leading role in sports equity issues across the Grand Valley as athletic director for Mesa County School District 51, and remembers a time when inequities existed between men’s sports and feminine, in particular with regard to travel accommodation.
Since implementing Title IX, CMU has taken a leadership role in gender equity on campus. This can be seen in the number of women in the management team of the university. Another example is one of CMU’s new sports teams. In 2018, CMU became the first in the west to offer varsity wrestling for women.
For Travis Mercado, it was Maverick’s energetic and dynamic spirit that attracted him to the women’s wrestling head coach position. Mercado saw a dedication to being truly excellent and competitive in every sports program and knew a similar future was in store for his team.
“Other schools might start women’s wrestling programs for enrollment reasons. But here, true to our mascot, we have established ourselves as the leaders of women’s wrestling in the western United States,” Mercado said.
Since its first year (2018-2019), the program’s roster has grown from 10 competitors to 39 preparing for the 2022-23 year.
Women in wrestling were nothing new to Mercado, who grew up in California. Wrestling in lighter weight classes, 112-119 in high school and then 133 in college, Mercado often trained with female teammates who often didn’t have their own programs.
The middle school girls compete in freestyle wrestling, while the men compete in folksy style, also known as top/bottom. Mercado prefers to train the freestyle because it is faster, has more focus on eliminations, and is closer to the style used by Olympic athletes, both men and women.
“Now girls’ wrestling is the fastest growing high school sport in this country,” Mercado said. “The number of female athletes and girls wrestling has exploded and I think it’s because we’re giving them the opportunity to compete against their peers with top coaches and training that they didn’t have the means 10 years ago, 15 years ago.”
This move towards Title IX compliance also expands the pool of scholarship opportunities when these ladies reach the college level because they are not competing with male students for them, but not all universities are adding these programs. .
The Mercado team doesn’t organize duels or home tournaments very often. They generally move east and south towards higher concentrations of adversaries.
“I’m just waiting for the day when Western, Adams and other RMAC schools add women’s teams because it will create more excitement!”
The first home game of this year is scheduled for November 4 against Chadron State College.
Title IX certainly paved the way for gender equity in athletics, activities, and studies for students.
“Title IX is a federal law that requires all students to be treated equally, regardless of gender. Although it began with ensuring there were fair opportunities in sports, scholarships and other educational opportunities, it has expanded to ensure students are free from harassment. whether it is harassment by a professor or staff member, or sexual or domestic violence between students. said CMU Title IX coordinator Stephanie Rubinstein. “Without this law, many opportunities for students, which include the LQTBQ+ community as well as women, would not necessarily be available.”
This protection also extends to faculty and staff, and Rubinstein works daily to ensure gender equity across campus and to ensure that students, faculty, and staff feel safe, supported, and free from sexual harassment.
While CMU remains competitive in athletics across the country, the university also continues the fight at home for gender equity on campus and in the community at large.
“All students, faculty, and staff are empowered to report any issues they see on their desktops, laptops, or the CMU app, through the ‘Report an Incident’ button,” Rubinstein said. “Rest assured that every report is handled and that the safety of students, as well as ensuring that all parties involved have the right to be heard, is taken very seriously.”
She also invites the CMU community to join her in advancing the equity movement by participating in the Sexual Citizens club and the Real Talk committee that creates programs around consent, respect, and campus safety.
“My door is always open to anyone with questions about the Title IX process, as well as concerns about gender issues on campus,” Rubenstein said.
As part of continued work on gender equity, CMU is highlighting people who helped move the needle, including CMU Hall of Honor inductee Kathy Holthus-Daniels, who has played volleyball for CMU in the late 80s. Now she enjoys inspiring the next generation of student-athletes. During her CMU volleyball career, she and a friend coached pee-wee basketball and she later refereed basketball and volleyball for local youth sports leagues.
She also runs the Mav For A Day program, which gives local kids ages 8-14 the chance to shadow a CMU student-athlete on game days, including participating in warm-ups, coaches’ pep talks and game after-party.
“The opportunity for girls to play sports for college scholarships – it’s a career change for many who wouldn’t have been able to afford college,” said Holthus-Daniels . “I also see it as opening doors for girls to become coaches, officials, sports directors, trainers, sports agents, sports doctors – it’s really opened up. It’s kind of funny how now it’s is so important to see an official woman in the NFL or the NBA and it took us 50 years to get there!
New CMU athletic director Kim Miller, PhD, makes history as the first woman of color to hold the position in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference. Thanks to Colorado Public Radio for celebrating with us.