How Title IX Changed my Life

Celebrate the 41st anniversary of Title IX today.

First posted March 4, 2013 by Generation Fabulous, women writing about women’s issues, as part of the launch for their new site.

Illinois State University lead nation in promoting women's sports

Illinois State University lead nation in promoting women’s sports

For the last fifty some years, I have been listening to people tell me NO!

I ain’t listening no more!

I grew up on the sideline begging to play ball like the boys. The first half of my life, I fought to be allowed on America’s playing fields. In 1972, when Title IX passed mandating equal opportunities for girls, I set the standard for the first girl’s basketball team in my high school. In 1978, I received the first athletic scholarship in Illinois to play basketball for Jill Hutchinson at Illinois State University. Jill, co-founder and first president of the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association, was a pioneer, who helped raise women’s college basketball to its current level of popularity.

I co-founded the first girl’s summer basketball camp in the Sauk Valley Region of Northern Illinois, so other girls in my area wouldn’t have to go to a boy’s camp like I did.

In 1979, I was drafted into the first Women’s Professional Basketball League (WBL.)  The general public pooh-poohed the notion and unfortunately the league folded due to lack of funds and interest

Then I was recruited to play overseas, but after a year in Paris, non-European women were banned from the professional French league.

So I crossed the border and found my dream team in Marburg Germany.

Kabooom!

A car accident in France ended my career. Instantly.

I started over. Again. But first I had to learn to walk. Eventually, I taught at international high schools and coached girl’s and sometimes boy’s basketball teams. But what I really coveted was a writing career. In my free time, I wrote a newspaper column, and sports, and travel pieces, but traditional papers were dying. I should know. I married a French printer. He suggested that I start a blog.

Decades ago, I wrote my first book and signed with a big name agent, but publishers said that no one was interested in women’s basketball. Another half a dozen years passed, I worked up my courage, wrote another book and finally landed another high-flying agent. Once again, publishers said no thanks; I was not a not big enough name. Undaunted, I wrote yet another draft, interested a third agent, but it was still no go.

I felt like a loser. I moped. I swore. I cried. I kicked the wall. Then I picked up the pen again.

I do not take no for answer.

Damn it! You want something done, do it yourself!

Persistence pays off. A decade later, after another couple dozen drafts, I present to you, Home Sweet Hardwood: A Title IX Trailblazer Breaks Barriers Through Basketball.

Illinois State University - 1978

Illinois State University – 1978

With a firsthand account of the monumental Title IX ruling, my book serves as an inspiring lesson in women’s history, but it is more than just a sports story. From expatriate life to cross cultural marriage to motherhood, Home Sweet Hardwood touches on the transitions every woman makes as she bridges the gaps between genders, generations and cultures.

Now you tell me, where would I be now if I gave up a half century ago when the powers that be, said, No!

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Posted in education, family, health, inspiration, relationships, social view, sport.

19 Comments

  1. Pat, I remember how we “met.” You were commenting on someone else’s blog, and I was stunned at the physical challenges you hinted at, but you seemed undaunted. I remember there was something about you having to shift to being nocturnal for a period of time due to sensitivity to the sun. I was intrigued enough to go find your blog and learn more about you, and to this day you continue to intrigue me. I very much enjoyed your “travelogue” phase of blogging, during which you showed us life in Switzerland (more, please!) And I love how you write about family – you always get my tear ducts working. So glad to have bought your book (fantastic cover, BTW), and I am looking forward to reading it and feeling inspired all over again. Best wishes to a true champion.

    • Thanks, Lynne. I look forward to your feedback. I feel like you have been with me every step of the way in the writing journey, which is every bit as grueling as playing pro ball.

  2. Pat, you are an inspiration. You were a trailblazer at a time when girls were told they had to effectively sit on the sidelines. I love reading your blog and can’t wait to dive into your book.

  3. I’m with Lynne, Pat. When I see a post from you , I’m on it because I know I’ll be inspired, entertained and want to break out into a cheer for your universal messages about persistence, family, triumph over obstacles. You are the poster child for persistence and true grit and HOME SWEET HARDWOOD is a testiment to it all. Carry on, my friend. You are an inspiration to us all!

  4. Yeah, you go girl – just listen to your heart! BTW, I got your e-mail, Pat, and you’re good. I know you’ll get to my book when you get to it – and I’ll get to yours soon, so I’ll let you know as soon as I post a review.

  5. Fantastic piece, Pat! And my daughter is right when I explained what Title IX was that it is 41 years today: “I’m glad we were at an Girls AAU basketball tournament. It seems right to have a lot of girls playing ball today.”

  6. Ah, Pat, what an inspiring story! I’m glad you and other women like you refused to accept the world’s quick No, choosing instead to make a new pathway and open sports to following generations of women. How bleak life would be without an athletic outlet. I grew up playing tennis and spent countless hours on the courts.

  7. Pingback: Sterling Memories - Hometown Imprinted in Heart - Pat McKinzie

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