Last week, our group spent time at the University of Tennessee and what a great experience it was! We were given so many opportunities to see what Title IX, along with a lot of hard work and dedication from the staff and students, can produce in a large university setting.
On Monday, we had the opportunity to tour UT’s athletic facilities. We were able to see the football stadium, softball fields, soccer fields, volleyball court, and several other areas. A definite highlight for me that day, and I know for several others, was getting to see the women’s basketball locker rooms, lounges, film viewing areas, and Pat Summitt’s office. Seeing these facilities really made me realize how far women’s athletics have come. It blew me away! From their stadium seating film area to their beautiful trophy cases (filled to the brim with National Championship trophies of course) and lounges complete with pool tables, leather couches, and flat panel TVs, it really became apparent to me exactly what Title IX, Pat Summit, and Tennessee’s commitment to women’s athletics has done for this program. Many of the other facilities we viewed had a similar feel.
We also were fortunate enough during our trip to be able to watch two women’s basketball games. One of the games was against the U.S National Team which included big time players such as Lisa Leslie, Rebecca Lobo, and Dana Taurasi. It was a great game and it amazed me how well Tennessee was able to compete with the national team, a team full of talent and experience. It just goes to show the caliber of Summitt’s program and how devoted these women are to being able to contend with the best.
During my time in Tennessee, I also visited the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame. It was interesting to see all of the old jerseys and photographs and read the stories of those women who pioneered the way towards the equality in athletics we are starting to see today. It was a fitting time to visit the Hall of Fame because Pat Summitt and Holly Warlick (two of our interviews) were all over the place. It made me realize just how valuable those interviews were because both of those women were and continue to be significant individuals in women's athletics, particularly in the sport of basketball.
Tennessee is an example school as far as support of women’s athletics. It is astounding what can happen when schools make the effort to hold their women’s programs to the same standard as they hold their men's programs. However, in the back of my mind throughout the trip, I could not help but realize that not every school is like Tennessee. It takes a lot of hard work and effort from a school to be able to support their women’s athletic programs in the way that Tennessee does. My trip to Tennessee was a great one and I learned a lot, but it also made me understand that, while support of women's athletics has improved greatly, many schools still have a long way towards equality in athletics and that the fight for Title IX is certainly not over …