The IHSA Celebrates the 50th Anniversary of Title IX

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The IHSA Celebrates the 50th Anniversary of Title IX

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The 2021-22 school year marks the 50th anniversary of Title IX. This landmark moment for female students led to a movement here in Illinois, where over 140,000 female high school athletes now compete annually across 18 IHSA sports. The opportunities for today’s athletes were built on the perseverance of those who came before. Throughout the school year, the IHSA will be sharing content related to the IHSA and the 50th anniversary of Title IX. COUNTRY Financial is proud to present the IHSA's TItle IX at 50 content below and also be sure to follow #TitleIXat50 on social media, as the NFHS provides a national perspective on this momentous legislation...


Northwestern University lecturer Melissa Isaacson is an award-winning sportswriter whose career includes stops at ESPN and working as a beat writer for the Michael Jordan-led Chicago Bulls. Long before Isaacson authored books like Transition Game: An Inside Look at Life with the Chicago Bulls  and  Sweet Lou – Lou Piniella: A Life in Baseball, she was a student-athlete at Niles West High School, where she was a member of the school's 1979 IHSA Girls Basketball State Championship winning team. In 2019, she puiblished a book about her state championship experience entitled STATE: A Team, a Triumph, a Transformation. Isaacson told us her Title IX story:

Before she emerged on the national stage as one of the greatest athletes and Olympians of all-time, Jackie Joyner-Kersee was a three-sport star at Lincoln High School in East St. Louis (Lincoln consolidated into East St. Louis Senior High School in 1998). She partcipated in basketball, track & field, and volleyball at Lincoln, helping lead the Tigerettes to state championships in basketball and track & field prior to graduating in 1980. She participated in basketball and track at UCLA, before winning three gold, one silver, and two bronze medals across four different Olympia games. Voted the greatest female athlete of all-time by Sports Illustrated, Joyner-Kersee talked about Title IX shaped her life and experiences...

Glenbard South coach Julie Fonda-Smith and Richards High School coach Folliard are legendary coaches who have made a lasting impact on high school softball in Illinois. Listen below to hear Coach Fonda and Coach Folliard talk about opportunities resulting from Title IX, the growth of the game, and how they plan to continue to educate high school softball players on the Title IX landmark legislation.


Girls Gymnastics is one of the IHSA's longest standing girls sports, having debuted the inaugural state championship during the 1976-77 school year. The landscape of high school girls gymnastics has changed considerably around the country through the years, as the IHSA is one of just over 20 state high school associations who continue to offer a state tournament in the sport. While participation in high school gymnastics has dipped, the passion and devotion of its coaches, officials, and participants remains as strong as ever. Kathy Krebs, Betty Alexson-McClelland, and Robin Straus join IHSA girls gymnastics administrator Tracie Henry to discuss the history of IHSA Girls Gymnastics and their own personal paths in participating, officiating, and administering the sport here in Illinois.


The IHSA added Competitive Cheerleading as an official sport in 2006 and Competitive Dance followed by crowning its first IHSA state champions in 2013. The foundation of an IHSA State Series in cheerleading and dance changed the conversation around both sports, eliminating stereotypes while creating even more participation opportunities for high school student-athletes in Illinois. IHSA head clinicians Shaunda Brown (cheerleading) & Gina Dryden (dance) talked about the roots and evolution of both IHSA sports...


December 20-22, 2021, marks the return of the Grow The Game Tournament, a high school girls basketball tournament in Illinois that embraces the motto "For Women. By Women."

The Grow The Game Tournament aims to raise awareness about the importance of equality and giving all girls & women the opportunity to lead, compete, collaborate, and honor one another through the game of basketball, returns in 2021. Learn more about the 2021 tourney by clicking here.

IHSA Coordinator of Special Programs Raye McDonald conducted a podcast with girls basketball coaches Keisha Newell (Mother McAuley) and Teri Rodgers (New Trier) discussing the Grow the Game Tournament and Shootout they co-organize. Eric Behm, a New Trier assistant coach who coordinates the marketing and graphics for the tournament, also joined the conversation...



Four years after Richards High School's Mia Palumbo made history as the first female wrestler to win a match at the IHSA Individual Wrestling State Finals, the IHSA will conduct its first-ever Girls Wrestling State Finals in the winter of 2022. The IHSA talked with Andrew High School Girls Wrestling Coach Demeri Pajic and wrestlers Daniela Rosales and Lana Shuaibi about their experiences competing in a male-dominated sport and what it means to them to be Title IX trailblazers as they prepare to participate in the first IHSA Girls Wrestling State Series. Coach Demi is believed to be the first female girls wrestling head coach in state history.


Katrina M. Adams won IHSA Girls Tennis Singles State Championships in 1983 and 1984 at Whitney Young High School in Chicago, before she went on to win a Big Ten Championship at Northwestern University. After a pro career, she rose to become President and CEO of the United States Tennis Association—the first black woman and youngest person ever to hold that position. Katrina shares her Title IX story alongside long-time Whitney Young principal Dr. Joyce Kenner, one of the longest tenured and most respected principals in CPS history, who has also been an enduring advocate for female athletes throughout her tenure. The second video then features a discussion with legendary IHSA Girls Tennis Coach and State Tournament Manager Jean Walker. The fieldhouse at Prospect High School is named in Walker's honor, in part for her tireless advocacy for female high school athletics and her pioneering role in organizing many of the IHSA's early state tournaments for girls.


Legendary IHSA Figure Ola Bundy Blazed New Trails For Female High School Athletes

During her 29-year career as an Illinois High School Association administrator, Ola Bundy shepherded girls athletics from the early days of the Girls Athletic Association (GAA, a precursor to the IHSA adding girls’ sports) and postal tournaments to a full-scale, 12-sport, interscholastic state tournament lineup that was every bit the equivalent of boys programs. Today's female athlete owes a tremendous debt of gratitude to Miss Bundy  because many times it was only by the sheer force of her personality that she was able to persuade high school administrators to give girls athletics a fair shake. For her unceasing efforts she received many honors, capped by her induction into the National High School Sports Hall of Fame in 1996. Read more on Ola here and hear her 1996 interview below...



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