KSHSAA launches 50 in 50 project celebrating 50th anniversary of Title IX

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The late Janell Smith-Carson of Fredonia was arguably the greatest female high school track and field athlete Kansas has ever produced.

But, Smith never won a medal in the Kansas State High School Activities Association track competition in Wichita. In fact, she has never competed in state competition despite still holding the state all-time record of 52.3 seconds in the 400-meter and one of the highest scores of all time. – nearly 20 feet – in the girls’ long jump.

Janelle Smith was simply a young woman ahead of her time in the 1960s. As a teenager, she qualified for the 1964 Olympics; set several national junior Olympic records; was a two-time AAU national champion at the 400, competed in the 1963 Pan American Games in Brazil, and appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated in 1965.

Smith, who died of cancer in 2020, has raced and competed around the world, but has never been on a girls ‘high school team at Fredonia or a college girls’ team at Emporia State Teacher’s College. She didn’t have the opportunities that many take for granted these days.

“What I missed the most was not having other girls to run with and not being on a team,” Smith-Carson told the Parsons Sun in a 2009 story while she was inducted into the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame. “Girls now have so many more opportunities.”

Nowadays, Kansas girls have 12 high school sports to choose from each year: basketball (1973), bowling (2005), cross country (1977), golf (1973), gymnastics (1974), soccer ( 1993), softball (1976), swimming and diving (1975), tennis (1970), athletics (1972), volleyball (1971) and wrestling (2020). They can thank Title IX for that.

From June 23, the KSHSAA began its celebration of the 50th year of Title IX, when Congress proclaimed that “No person in the United States should, on the basis of gender, be excluded from participation, be seen. deny the benefits of, or be discriminated against in any federally funded educational program or activity.

Next week, the first of 50 stories featuring women administrators, coaches and athletes who have left their mark on and off the playing field will be featured on the KSHSAA website. 50 stories in 50 weeks, celebrating the 50th anniversary of Title IX – from Jackie Stiles and Lorraine Davidson to Kendra Wecker and Lynette Woodard, from Jim Baker and Terry English to Kim Tennal and Joan Wells.

“Kansas has a rich history of exceptional student-athletes who have represented member schools, and we have truly enjoyed looking back on the history of Title IX, knowing that many laid the foundation for girls’ success and opportunity. they now have to participate at the highest level, ”said KSHSAA Executive Director Bill Faflick.

Faflick said women and men have led the way in making this happen, directors like Cheryl Gleason, Fran Martin, Charlotte Davis, Tamie Preston and Jacque Feist, to name a few.

“There are so many that impacted the business and they did it as administrators and they did it as athletes to overcome some of the barriers in place that we worked hard to remove.” , said Faflick.

Faflick is a self-proclaimed “proud graduate” of Southeast High School in Wichita and was a member of the Golden Buffaloes cross country team when Stephanie Chippeaux became the first girl to compete in cross country.

“It was great to have Stéphanie on our team,” said Faflick. “I’ve been fortunate to be part of programs where we haven’t looked at students based on their gender or ethnicity,” he said. “We have viewed students as students and have strived to provide opportunities for all students, regardless of gender, race, socio-economic status.”

Cheryl Gleason, who retired this year from KSHSAA on Thursday after spending 32 years with the organization, graduated from Columbus High School in 1972, a month before Title IX was enacted. Gleason, Deputy Executive Director, coached and taught at Caldwell and Osawatomie before coming to KSHSAA in 1989 and served as administrator for gymnastics, volleyball, bowling, tennis, swimming / diving and golf while serving as a link for the KSHSAA room. of Fame and Program Director of the Kansas Association for Youth.

Gleason remembers being in the GAA – Girls Athletic Association – in high school.

“We had what they called play days,” she said. “I know it sounds hokey, but I remember going to Pittsburg state for a play day where girls from different counties in Southeast Kansas would get together. It was almost like an intramural day. . “

Gleason said she took physical education classes every four years in high school because “it was my sport.” She started playing tennis in first grade and ended up competing in state tournaments in 1970 and 1971, finishing third in singles in her senior year.

“When I look back I think, ‘God, I wish I hadn’t graduated when I did,’ she said. “But at the same time, because of what I’ve been through, it propelled my career path. I told people when I retired that I wanted to give girls something that I had never had, and that this was the opportunity to play sports, the opportunity to see the benefits.

“There are just a lot of special stories and picking 50 must have been a difficult task.”

Faflick said staff at KSHSAA have been talking about the Title IX project for almost a year and wanted to do something special to honor the 50th year of girls having the same opportunities as boys. The National Federation of High Schools will also celebrate this important milestone.

A group of eight to ten current and former Kansas journalists will write the weekly articles.

“I am delighted that we have exceptional reporters from across the state of Kansas who are willing and available to help tell this story because it is a story that needs to be told,” said Faflick. “We’re excited to be able to shine a light on the girls where it should have been from the start. We can’t undo this moment in history, but what we can do now is move on and recognize and honor those to whom we have benefited from their work.

“This is a year where our focus will be on celebrating the success of these girls who have been true trailblazers in our state of Kansas. It has an impact in every city in Kansas. It’s a story that is certainly worth it. ‘to be told. “


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