This year marks the 50th anniversary of the passage of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, creating and enforcing equal opportunities for women across the nation’s college campuses.
Few sectors of higher education have benefited as greatly as women’s athletics.
Before Title IX, fewer than 32,000 women participated in collegiate athletics and fewer than 300,000 girls participated in high school athletics. Fifty years later, more than 200,000 women are playing college sports and more than 3 million girls play high school sports.
At Grand Valley, Joan Boand was the strongest advocate for women’s athletics, joining the university as an assistant professor in the physical education department in 1966. Boand, who died in January at the age of 88, quickly set about to establish women’s athletics on a young Grand Valley campus, said Pat Baker-Grzyb, one of her former players.
“I look at the Grand Valley women’s programs and Joan started them all, she was fighting for female athletes,” said Pat Baker-Grzyb, an inaugural member of Grand Valley’s Sports Hall of Fame. “Grand Valley was one of the first to have scholarships, and Joan fought for those.”
Fifty years later, women’s athletics has made tremendous gains, and as Women’s History Month draws to a close, Grand Valley’s past and current athletic leaders reflect on the achievements made and the advancements yet to come.