Opportunity Afforded

While growing up in Hialeah, Fla. in 1974, 10-year-old Kim Wyant loved to compete in sports.

“I was basically like a park rat,” she said. “I was a girl playing with the boys in the 1970s, which was not common.”

When they learned a baseball team was being formed, Wyant and her 12-year-old brother Andy wanted to try out.

“I vividly remember the male coach out there,” she said. “I walked up to the coach. He said, ‘No, you can’t try out for the baseball team. No girls are allowed to play baseball.’ “

An upset Wyant rode her bicycle home six blocks from the park and told her mother that she has been denied the opportunity to play. Her mom de ella immediately drove down to the park and confronted the coach.

“You’re going to let my daughter play baseball, or I’m going sue you for discrimination,” her mother said.

Added Wyant: “She goes on to tell me that she actually had to meet the city mayor and the officials of the city. She basically told them, ‘Look, there’s this thing called Title IX now and you’re going to let my daughter play or I’m going to sue you. That was my first introduction to this Title IX.”

Two years before in 1972, Title IX, which prohibits sex-based discrimination in schools or education programs that receive funding from the federal government. June 23 is the 50th anniversary of the day when it went into effect. The late Sen. Birch Bayh (Indiana) introduced the bill in 1971.

Playing baseball was a small step at the time, but a huge one for Wyant. By the time she attended high school, more sports for girls were added, including soccer.

“It just opened so many doors for me, gave my life that has led me really to where I am today,” said Wyant, who backstopped the US Women’s National Team in its first game in history in 1985.

Wyant is currently the head coach of the New York University men’s soccer team, one of two women who are head coaches for men’s college squads, and head coach of Brooklyn City FC (Women’s Premier Soccer League).

“I was in the right place at the right time. I benefited from those people who’ve made those decisions to start the Women’s National Team,” Wyant said. “It was just another step that I was able to take that just furthered my career, but it also helped me be a better person.”

Many former USWNT standouts echoed Wyant’s remarks about Title IX’s impact and influence on their lives.

BRIANA SCURRY (174 CAPS)

“It was life changing,” National Soccer Hall of Famer and goalkeeper Briana Scurry said. “Title IX really opened the doors for so many of us to run through. I think, for me, it was crucial, because with the advent of Title IX, a lot of universities and colleges were adding scholarships and money for females in the form of soccer, which had larger rosters and was a good sport to be able to meet the mandate for being compliant.That just made a lot of sense for me to continue to play soccer.My parents didn’t have a lot of money and I needed to get a scholarship to go to college. So Title IX really helped me being able to realize that dream.”

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