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I’ve been seeing more and more of this V is for Victory campaign flying around the blogosphere. For example, it can be found on one of my favorite bloggers’ sites, Women Like Sports.

The Women’s Sports Foundation is sponsoring/pioneering this campaign – which I completely support. (Hell – anything is something, right?)

Essentially, these are a series of videos dedicated toward getting girls to recognize if their schools are in compliance with Title IX regulations. Which is extremely important. But it can be done better.

I have to be a little bit critical of its transparency and its lack of digital creativity.

1) WSF should have their name all over it – should be completely transparent that this is where these messages are coming from.

2) The URL should not be confusing (which it is). Vis4victory.org. Wow. It’s far easier to just remember womenssportsfoundation.org. Why not create a micro site with its own (non-confusing) URL? Why is that so difficult? I mean, if you’re going to spring the $ for the video, why not spring for a place it can live permanently?

3) The videos (although true) are a bit unrealistic. Sometimes the inequity isn’t as obvious as these videos make them out to be. Case studies and testimonials would work much better. (not sure of legal issues surrounding that)

4) The questions in WSF’s poll are completely directed toward parents. This needs to change. The girls (themselves) should be answering these questions. It makes girls seem like passive watchers instead of active participants.

5) This campaign needs to be interactive (similar to Gonzaga’s inspired season). Why not have the poll in the video? Why not make this a YouTube video? Why doesn’t WSF create a YouTube video channel and hold contests for girls (i.e., best sports moment caught on film)? The possibilities are endless here.

I hope WSF is watching – and paying attention. Their campaigns could go so much further if the right perspectives were brought in.

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Awhile back, I wrote about how Kacy Staurt, a 13-year-old field goal kicker got booted from her team, Georgia’s New Creation Center Crusaders, for being a girl.

Since then, Kacy’s mom has been fighting to try and allow her to play (she even commented on my blog – see link above).

Well, the story has caught major national attention (it even made ESPN) and it seems the publicity has worked!

Well, I just read that she’s cleared to play! So exciting!

Hank St. Denis, the head of the authority governing Georgia High School football, would not discuss the case, simply saying, “She’s playing, isn’t she?”

Apparently, this story is deeper than I thought.

SportingNews.com said that when the East Atlanta Mustangs played the Crusaders, they sent them a statement prior to the game about the religious implications of having a female kicker:

“The East Atlanta Mustangs didn’t play us under protest but they were allowed to read a statement on their beliefs about female football players,” [New Creation coach Ken] Townley said. “They used biblical verses from the book of Romans. I was very stunned by that.”

WHAT! hahahaha! First of all, Kacy is a kicker. Not a linebacker. Second, even if she was a linebacker, this makes them look nothing but scared.

Citing the bible? Are they kidding? Hilarious!

For the record, Stuart converted three extra points in her game against the East Atlanta Crusaders in a 39-8 victory.

YESSSS! GO KACY!

Perry Lee Barber is one of the first female umpires in baseball history. Today, she’s sharing her story – and it’s a great one.

Women everywhere should listen.

An interview with Barber is posted on the Women’s Sports Foundation. Also, you can read Barber’s commentary on her personal blog, Officially speaking…

The interview on WSF is awesome – discusses how she grew to love Baseball (which is evident on Officially speaking…). She also mentions how the idea of umpiring came from her mother’s encouragement. (love it!) WSF writer Kelsey J. Koenen says,

“Barber’s work as a professional baseball umpire has blazed a trail for women umpires and begun to chip away at one of the last sports careers presumed to be reserved for men.”

This is evident in the picture at the left-hand side of this post (below). In that picture, the University of Michigan head coach and Mets manager were meet at home plate during a February spring training game with the first all-woman umpiring crew: Perry Lee Barber, Ila Valcarcel, Theresa Fairlady and Mona Osborne.

SO COOL!

But the journey to this point in time has not been easy. Barber mentions that she often feels alone in an occupation dominated by men.

WSF reports,

“At times, it was daunting, especially as a female, and the need to be confident and aggressive was vital. Soon Barber realized the good ball players learn control and claim their own power, not giving it to the umpire, who, Barber said, is merely a “conduit through which things flow.””

And when you’re alone, it helps to have some support. With more than 20 years of experience behind her, Barber has built a support network for female umpires. As WSF says, “Barber’s network continues to grow, and her plans are nowhere near through.” Barber says,

“I want to make sure there’s a mechanism in place by the time I die,” Barber said, “that women have of reaching out and finding and encouraging one another to view umpiring as a possibility in their lives, as one that’s fun and rewarding and that might eventually lead to one or more becoming major league umpires.”

I love this idea – and appreciate the fact that Barber is thinking beyond her own needs and situation toward a future of other women umpires.

Personally, I think her network should start on the blogosphere. She should encourage female umpires to create their own blogs and network online. That way, friendships and alliances can be built throughout the country and their voices will be heard. (Opposers will think twice before casting their public opinions when they know these ladies have blogs and online networks.)

Regardless, I’d like to wish Barber the best of luck. What she’s doing is truly special and means a lot to female athletes (and future umpires) everywhere.

More information can be found at perrybarber.com.

Sunday night in Indianapolis the NCAA announced Nkolika “Nicky” Anosike 2008 Woman of the Year.  Anosike led the Lady Vols of Tennessee to back-to-back Women’s Basketball National Championships.  Being an avid watcher of the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament and regular season play, I could not be happier with the NCAA’s decision!  Not only is Anosike a household name, at least in my house, but a woman with tremendous talent, who carries herself with such pride and confidence!

Anosike’s success spans across much more than the basketball court.  Anosike has many noteworthy achievements.  Her academic and athletic success combined is incomparable to most, and I do not think anyone will disagree on how deserving she is of this award.

Academic achievements: Graduated in May 2008 with a triple major in political science, legal studies and sociology. SEC Academic Honor Roll, 2005-08. ESPN The Magazine Academic All-American second-team, 2007-08. Boyd McWhorter Postgraduate Scholarship winner for Tennessee, 2008.

The recipe for determining the winner: “The annual Woman of the Year award recognizes outstanding female student-athletes who have excelled in academics, athletics, leadership and service. A committee composed of representatives from NCAA member schools and conferences selected the top 30 – 10 from each division – from 130 conference and independent nominees. From the 30 honorees, nine finalists – three from each division – were chosen.”

The NCAA Committee on Women’s Athletics selected Anosike from nine finalists:

“1.  Susan Ackermann, Salisbury (lacrosse), Capital Athletic Conference
2.  Nkolika Anosike, Tennessee (basketball),Southeastern Conference
3.  Jennifer Artichuk, Delta State (swimming and diving), Independent
4.  Shanti Freitas, Smith (swimming and diving), New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference
5.  Arianna Lambie, Stanford (cross country, track and field), Pacific-10 Conference
6.  Samantha Mitchell, Mount Olive (volleyball, track and field), Conference Carolinas
7.  Lindsey Ozimek, Charlotte (soccer), Atlantic 10 Conference
8.  Sarah Schettle, Wisconsin-Oshkosh (track and field, cross country, swimming), Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference
9.  Heather Walker, Georgian Court (volleyball, softball), Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference”

I think that this is an amazing award and a great way to showcase female athletes.  Only ONE winner of this award has been a Division III Athlete.  EVERY other winner competed at the Division I level.  Now, I understand Division I is the highest level of competition, thus you are going to find the most successful and talented women competing for Divisioin I.  HOWEVER, having been a: 4 year varsity athlete, 2 time NCAA All-American, team captain, 4 time All-Conference, and a 4 time NCAA qualifier, in Division III swimming, something is to be said for the Division III student-athlete.  Where is the recognition for non-scholarship athletes?  The athletes that compete simply for the love of the game.

The athlete that gets out of bed every morning at 5:30am for swim practice, goes to class all morning, comes back to the pool to swim again, and then hits the weightroom, just to go home, eat dinner, do some homework, and wake up to do it all again.  All the meanwhile, maintaining a 3.95, still finding time to volunteer for various activities and programs, not to mention being a darn talented swimmer!!  This swimmer I am referring to was one of the 30 finalists in attendance Sunday night, Michelle Coombs.  Coombs, a 2008 graduate of SUNY New Paltz, was the 2007 NCAA Division III National Champion for Women’s Swimming in the 100 freestyle, and the first female National Champion at SUNY New Paltz.  As an assistant coach at SUNY New Paltz, I had the pleasure of coaching Coombs for the 2007-2008 swim season!  Much like all of the candidates for Woman of the Year, Coombs excels in academics, athletics, and in the area of service and leadership.  Congratulations to Coombs and all of the other finalists on their amazing honor to be nominated.  Most importantly, congratulations to Anosike for winning the title of Woman of the Year, and best of luck as you all go forward in your lives and look to excel outside of your specific sports arenas.

I came across this interesting article in the New York Times. It turns out wrestling has been a growing sport for women for the last twenty years. Girls are walking out onto the mat everyday across America, standing up, and utilizing their right to wrestle. According to the article, Women Want to Wrestle; Small Colleges Oblige,

“The inclusion of women’s wrestling in the Olympics beginning in 2004 provided a huge boost to the sport’s popularity and credibility. Five thousand girls nationwide wrestled in high school in the 2006-7 academic year, yet only eight colleges offer it as a varsity sport. Three of those eight programs are starting this fall.”

The more girls that wrestle in high school, the more girls that want to wrestle in college, and the more girls that move on to compete in the Olympics. The sport is growing, and it would be a shame for the girls to be limited or shut out of competing, because their university or institution did not have a women’s wrestling program. Wrestling has been under attack by opposers of Title IX. Unfortunately, wrestling is a sport that regularly gets cut in order for colleges and institutions to comply with Title IX rules and regulations. One supporter of women’s rights to wrestle has a great solution to everyone’s problems! Joey’s Wrestling room is a page dedicated to women’s wrestling. In “History of Wrestling” he states,

“At the collegiate level women’s wrestling is an ideal choice for creating new opportunities for women. In fact, women’s wrestling fits the NCAA criteria for emerging sports programs. Many schools that support a men’s wrestling program are out of compliance with Title IX – and money is always a factor. Adding women’s wrestling to an athletic program can save the athletic budget alot of money. Think about it. The coaches, the equipment, and the facilities are all in place. All that is needed is singlets and travel expenses. Economically it is the smart choice.”

Pretty Tough has already started to highlight the immerging sport of women’s wrestling. In a blog posted she states some of the facts about the sport:

  • “About 4000 girls wrestle at the high school level in the U.S. (compared to 239,000 boys), according to the USA Wrestling Association.
  • High school girls’ wrestling has only been sanctioned in two states: Hawaii and Texas (both since 1999).
  • Until girls’ wrestling teams are numerous enough to get state sanctioning, girls have to compete at informal divisions or meets instead of state tournaments�or compete against boys. In 2005, there were 17 girls who qualified for boys’ high school state tournaments around the country, and six of those girls placed.
  • The U.S. Girls Wrestling Association claims to be the future of the sport. They provide information of USGWA tournaments and events, as well as a discussion forum for female wrestlers and coaches.”
  • Hopefully in the next couple of years we will begin to see an increase in women’s wrestling and less cutbacks of men’s programs. After a highly publicized summer Olympics I don’t recall any coverage of women’s wrestling. Guess we have a ways to go.

    CORREECTION: (by Megan Hueter)

    Wrestling has not been under attack of the opposers of Title IX. The only thing that COULD BE criticized by wrestling coaches is the opportunity for women’s wrestling to be classified as an “emerging sport.” Wrestling has not made the NCAA’s seven-sport list to be classified as “emerging,” so there is really no argument here.

    Above, when I saw “wrestling coaches,” I am not referring to ALL wrestling coaches. I am referring to some (and it is coming directly from the New York Times),

    “Dozens of men’s teams have been eliminated over the past three decades, a phenomenon many coaches attribute to Title IX.”

    As you can see, it’s clear they are critics of the law. However, it’s not Title IX that has eliminated those programs. It’s the institutions and their decisions to distribute funds to other men’s programs which they may deem more valuable. (which is unfortunate)

    Also, to note, it’s not Title IX that is not allowing women’s wrestling to be classified as an emerging sport. It’s the NCAA. The problem is not with the law (it’s a good law that has created millions of opportunities for female athletes). The problem is with the institutions that govern the law and the politics that surround those decisions. It’s unfortunate for men AND women (sometimes) that this is the case.

    Viral video campaigns could be the much-needed answer to bringing deserved attention to women’s baketball.

    Of the sports-related viral videos that I’ve seen, Gonzaga takes the lead – by far – with their newly-launched Inspired Season campaign to sell season tickets.

    Stay with me here, this is fun.

    By definition, a viral video is a video clip that gains popularity through the process of Internet sharing, typically through email or IM messages, blogs or other media sharing websites. [Think funny YouTube videos such as The Evolution of Dance or “I Got a Crush… on Obama.”]

    As you can imagine, my attention was caught when I came across a viral video for women’s basketball. After reading a posting by Adrants (a site that evaluates advertisiments) which said Gonzaga’s efforts to sell season tickets were “well-executed,” I was thrilled – and very, very eager to check it out.

    Essentially, Gonzaga University created a microsite (a URL that is separate from the University) called Inspired Season, which is dedicated toward a goal of selling season tickets for only $75. The main feature of this site is its viral video which is interactive through Web AND mobile technology.

    The video features Gonzaga’s coach, Kelly Graves, who motivates you to buy tickets and inspires his team to take the court.

    Adrants blogger Angela Natividad said,

    “To sell tickets for its women’s basketball games, Gonzaga University produced a well-executed online campaign that makes your attendance feel vital.”

    This campaign is so good – in fact – that Dan Heath, author of Made to Stick, claims he wanted to buy a pack after engaging the campaign, even though he’s, like, 2,600 miles from Spokane.

    It’s important to note that coach Graves, 20 years ago, left a job with a finance company to commit his future to coaching women’s basketball. In 2007, he told Spokesmanreview that he “loved” coaching women’s basketball and never was entised to take a men’s job.

    So here he is, leading Gonzaga’s program into his eighth season as the school’s winningest coach and leading women’s basketball into a new age of interactive video awareness campaigns.

    To see the campaign, visit Inspired Season.

    Did it make you want to buy season tickets? $75 is pretty cheap!

    Apparently, there was a huge Title IX case settled this week down at Florida Gulf Coast University.

    So much so – in fact – that you’re reading about it here, and you can find it on the Title IX blog, the Naples News and NBC.

    Essentially, a group of women including volleyball coach Jaye Flood and women’s golf coach Holly Vaughn registered concerns over Title IX violations in FGCU’s sports programs.

    The case won $3.4 million.

    Yay!

    Jaye Flood

    What’s particularly interesting is that Jaye Flood had the best record of any sports team in the school’s history. When she complained of gender inequity, she was rated poorly, suspended and ultimately fired.

    And that, my friends, is against the law.

    When I first read about this, I couldn’t believe my eyes. I mean, seriously? Does this still happen?

    Linda Correia, lead counsel for Flood and Vaughn, says, “This is the price of retaliation,” Correia filed the Title IX lawsuit earlier this year in Ft. Meyers, Florida with Public Justice, a national public interest law firm also based in Washington, DC.

    Here’s a little bit more background information on the women who filed suit.

    Coach Jaye Flood compiled a record of 80 wins and 13 losses in the first three years of the volleyball program, the best win-loss record of any coach in FGCU history.  In her team’s first year in Division I, Coach Flood’s team  won the Atlantic Sun Conference, and she was honored as the Atlantic Sun Conference Coach of the Year.  After Coach Flood registered her gender equity concerns with the school, and despite her performance, FGCU rated her poorly and suspended her. Coach Flood was fired four days after filing her Title IX lawsuit.

    Holly Vaughn

    Holly Vaughn

    Women’s Golf Coach Holly Vaughn was a professional tour golfer when she developed FGCU’s women’s golf program, accumulating 11 tournament wins in her first four years of play and ranking as high as number 3 in its division.  Unlike male coaches, Coach Vaughn was not offered a full-time position and was not permitted to select her own assistant coach.  Coach Vaughn earned far less than male coaches, and was compelled to share her office in a trailer with a men’s team assistant coach.

    Coach Flood and Coach Vaughn complained about gender equity under Title IX and claim they were retaliated against as a consequence.  The law also prohibits retaliation for complaining about Title IX violations.

    It’s clear that Title IX needs to stay due to situations such as this. People can’t get away with this, and I’m so happy to see women like Jaye Flood and Holly Vaughn standing up for themselves and lawyers like Linda Correia representing us.