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SHARP Center pres.

Persistence Pays Off: How Women Athletes Changed the Game at the University of Michigan

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The history of women’s athletics at the University of Michigan is a fascinating story of inequality, grit, and eventual triumph. Title IX, which ensured women’s equal access to athletics, became federal law in 1972. The first women’s varsity sports teams at UM (there were six of them) were created in 1973-74. Resources for these early teams were scarce, though; and these women had to fight to be given the Block M, facing some fierce opposition, including those who argued women should not receive “the same Block M that [football and basketball athletes] have sweated and bled for have sweated and bled for on the fields of Michigan” (to quote two famous men’s varsity coaches at the time).

This panel will celebrate the tenacious, passionate female student-athletes at Michigan, both before and after Title IX, who persisted toward equality and changed the game for the future of women’s athletics. Current female student-athletes will have the chance to interview some of the women who came before them at this important event.

Reception to follow.

Former athlete panelists include:
Melanie Weaver Barnett (Cross-Country 1979-82; Track/Field 1980-83)
Sara Flom Goldstein (Gymnastics 1977-80)
Jane Nixon (Field Hockey 1983-86)
Leslie Spicer Williams (Basketball 1987-90)

Historical overview by Sheryl Szady, PhD.
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