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Title IX’s impact on athletics

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Title IX was implemented in the United States in 1972 as a way to prevent discrimination or exclusion based on gender. One area that has seen a large impact has been athletics.

Wartburg volleyball co-head coach Jennifer Walker said Title IX has come a long way and is very important, especially for female athletes.

“Being an athlete and being able to understand that what you are doing is just as important as what guys are doing and that you’re going to get the same support administration and the community around you gives value to what you are doing,” Walker said.

“I don’t think athletes today understand the struggles those athletes did, even I don’t because they went through them before my time,” Walker continued.

Lindsey Leonard serves as part of the Title IX team at Wartburg and is also one of the head coaches for the Wartburg cheerleading team.She said athletics, just like college, were originally intended for men and that is why the implementing of Title IX has been so important.

Like Walker, she said one of the biggest improvements has come in the level of support for women’s athletics especially for a group like the cheerleading team

“Every year we get better at making our female athletes feel as supported within their sports as our male athletes do,” Leonard said.

Improvements have also been made to the facilities for female athletics and Walker said it makes the experience much better for the athletes.

Both Leonard and Walker said the atmosphere for women’s sports at Wartburg is top notch and they have had great experiences as coaches at the school.

“I’ve never felt any disrespect or lessening of the importance of our program,” Walker said.

When Walker first started at Wartburg she was taking over a position that was held by coach who led both the softball and volleyball teams.

By hiring individual coaches for each sport, Walker said the school was already showing the respect women’s sports.

While Title IX has come a long way, Leonard said there is still a lot of work to do, especially in the case of transgender athletes.

“It used to be black and white, male and female, but now what do you do for a person that is transgender?” Leonard said. “How do we keep pushing the Title IX rules to encompass everyone?”

Wartburg Title IX Coordinator Karen Thalacker said one thing that is normally looked at is the success of male and female programs and how much attention the school is paying to women’s athletic teams.

“You would really have to look at whether the school is adequately addressing the female sports,” Thalacker said. “When you look at what Wartburg does, wow, they are really paying attention to both female and male sports.”

This year, Wartburg has won conference titles in volleyball, women’s golf, women’s basketball, women’s cross country and women’s indoor track and field while also sending the women’s soccer team to the NCAA Tournament. They have also brought home titles in football, men’s cross country and wrestling.

Walker said this is because not just of support for the programs, but the coaches that lead the respective teams.

“As coaches, we don’t shy away from trying to be the best, Wartburg has never done that,” Walker said.

She said this is also true about the men’s athletics at Wartburg as well

Thalacker has been in her position for two years. When she originally started, she expected she would have to help make a lot of changes, but that has not been the case.

“If there were things that were not being done appropriately, I would have had no problem saying, ‘We’re doing things differently, this is unacceptable,’ things like that. It has been the opposite,” Thalacker said. “I have just been completely impressed with the professionalism and just the quality of the conduct here.”

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