Fifty years ago this summer, Title IX, a federal civil rights act to ensure that students and employees in educational settings are treated equally and fairly regardless of gender, was signed into law. Although the focus today is often on Title IX’s protections related to sexual harassment and sexual violence, for generations of women Title IX opened wide the gates that had limited their opportunities to compete in high school and college athletics.
Pomona has a long history of women’s athletics (see the striking picture of the 1903 women’s basketball team), but equity with men’s sports is a direct result of Title IX. Today, Pomona-Pitzer sponsors NCAA competition in 11 women’s sports and 10 men’s, including football, which requires a larger roster of athletes.
As part of Sagehen Athletics’ yearlong commemoration of Title IX, Pomona College Trustee Onetta Brooks ’74, a basketball and volleyball player as a Pomona student, talked with Miriam Merrill, director of athletics and chair of physical education.
“What I do remember for volleyball in the initial couple years is we made our own shorts,” Brooks recalls. “Somehow there was a top that had a number, and I don’t know if that was just something leftover. But of course you had to buy your own shoes. So all I recall is I think the knee pads maybe had been provided. We were on our own the first couple of years when I came in ’70.
“And laundry. We had to do our own laundry, so to speak, so we could come back fresh the next time. I think towels may have been provided.”
The video that can be viewed at sagehens.com/information/50th_anniversary_of_Title_IX is part of the commemoration led by Professor of Physical Education Lisa Beckett.
“Always trying to have equal access, male and female locker rooms and all the equipment, it was just something that I knew would take time, and I’m just so grateful that it eventually has come a long way since then, my time,” Brooks says.