Stars come out for national women’s sports day

Thirty years ago, the concept of women’s team sports was still catching on in the United States.

Today, women’s team sports are catching up to men’s sports in popularity and participation.

But what narrowed the gap?

Title IX, that’s what.

The federal bill, signed by Congress in 1972, gave women’s sports equal funding in both college and high-school athletics, and has literally redefined our outlook on sports in this country.

“Title IX has changed our culture,” said KOIN TV news anchor Julie Emry, who spoke Wednesday at Hood River Valley High School as part of the National Women in Sports Day.

“Women my age didn’t have the same opportunities as you when we were in high school,” she said. “So you should take advantage of all the resources that are offered to you and begin a life-long fitness lifestyle while you’re young.”

Joining Emry at the discussion were former HRV softball standout Crystal Draper, world-class mountaineer Lisa Rust and HRV athletic coaches Kristen Uhler, Tracy Norton, Jan Wall, Shayla Moline, Sue Farro and Barb Hosford — all of whom have been actively involved in sports for years.

Hosford, the girls tennis coach and a former collegiate tennis player, organized the event, and arranged for Draper and Emry to speak to a group of nearly 150 people from both the high school and Hood River Middle School.

The purpose of the discussion was to recognize how far women’s sports have come in the United States since 1972, and where they are headed as we embark on a new millennium.

“Playing sports opens up so many doors,” said Draper, a 1998 HRV graduate and an all-Pac 10 pitcher for the Oregon State University Beavers.

“I’ve seen parts of the country that I may not have gone to otherwise, and have met so many wonderful people along the way. It takes a lot of sacrifices to reach the collegiate level, but if you follow your dreams, you can get there, too.”

Draper also spoke of her recent selection to the Greek national softball team for the 2004 Olympics in Athens, Greece.

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