On June 23, 1972, President Nixon signed Title IX into law prohibiting sex discrimination in educational institutions that receive federal funding. Title IX was largely seen as a stepping stone for high school and college women’s sports to get to where they are today — but the fight for equality is far from over. Every Thursday night at 10:00 p.m. prior to the 50th anniversary of the passage of the law, 13 Sports honors the women who changed the game for girls’ and women’s sports in Kansas.
“IX at 50: The Pioneers of Women’s Sports in Kansas”
LAWRENCE, Kan. (WIBW) – As a young girl in the early 1970s, Theresa Becker’s sporting opportunities were limited.
“You’re talking about a small-town girl who didn’t experience any formal competition or athletic opportunities until junior high,” Becker said.
So when she entered college fresh out of Title IX, it was, in her words, “like a candy store.”
“Literally, my freshman year of college, I was doing double duty sports every season,” she said.
That’s six sports.
It wasn’t perfect, but it was a start.
“We bought our jerseys, we bought our own jerseys and got our own numbers on them,” she recalls. “We cut off our jeans to wear to the competition and smuggled extra groceries out of the dorm so we had something to eat on our road trip. And we packed several kids into hotel rooms when we had to stay the night, you know, but we don’t regret it. I mean, it was either that or no opportunity.”
Becker did not give up her sporting career after college.
“I had a teammate when I was a junior in college who was on the women’s national handball team and she basically recruited me,” she said. “She said, ‘You know, I think you should come to a tryout.'”
After five years on the national team, she transitioned to college coaching, first with Furman in South Carolina, then later as Associated Head Women’s Basketball Coach in Nebraska and Head Coach in Iowa State.
“The coach is definitely the voice,” said Becker. “She is the Advocate. She is the representative of her young women.”
Becker touched every area of collegiate athletics throughout her career: coaching, compliance at Nebraska, and compliance and academics at the University of Kansas — while ensuring other small-town girls with big dreams have the best opportunities to achieve them.
“When the commitment is mutual, everyone is rewarded. Everyone climbs higher,” she said. “Of course there are still some problems, but overall the opportunities for girls and young women are certainly much better now.”
“Let’s move on,” Becker continued. “Let’s be persistent. Let’s not back down. Let’s keep pushing for improvement. Let’s keep pushing for quality.”
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