Title IX also paved the way for aspiring coaches and administrators
MSHSL Staff Reflection by Bob Madison
Posted: Wednesday, December 1, 2021 - 9:53 AM
On July 20, 1969, astronauts from the United States walked on the moon. This historical moment led to innovations that still reap benefits.
About three years later, one of the most important pieces of legislation was another historical moment that led to opportunities for an underrepresented class of student-athletes within our great nation. It was the birth of Title IX. As we continue the walk-up in marking the 50th year of Title IX, I want to reflect on my experience of how it impacted my educational experience and acknowledge how it has also impacted so many deserving student-athletes.
After graduating from college in 1991, I had the opportunity to coach boys hockey for four years with the Mounds View High School team. It was a time I learned so many valuable lessons that still impact my work today. I left coaching and education for a short period and pursued a private sector job in sales. While working in sales, I was offered the opportunity to work as an assistant coach with the Irondale High School girls hockey team. It was two years after their co-op with Mounds View had dissolved. At this time, we had a diverse group of ability. Many had the opportunity to have played with the boys youth program. Most were playing organized hockey for the first time.
I only wish I had taught our group of athletes as much as they taught our coaching staff during those first years. The incremental growth was amazing. They were there to learn, compete and create opportunities for future generations. In my experience, this was the essence of Title IX. Creating opportunities for those who had not had that opportunity in the past.
I became a first-time head coach leading a girls hockey team who had experienced little success in terms of wins and losses. Those student-athletes improved quickly because of their willingness to learn, determination and an unmatched work ethic. They showed up to the rink every practice challenging our staff to assist them to learn the game of hockey through competing on a daily basis. They rarely complained and wanted only to take advantage of the opportunities they earned. Very quickly, they began competing for both conference and section championships. They were already champions, though, for what they accomplished on the rink, in the classroom and in our community. They were role models and motivated the next group to accomplish even more.
Those six years as a head coach impacted my career in a way I never could have imagined. Following those years as a head coach, I pursued my administrative license. My goal was to become an activities director. Shortly after, I knew I would be leaving Irondale, and I was offered another opportunity to work with a group of student-athletes at Benilde-St. Margaret’s. They had a change in their coaching staff and Jerry Pettinger, the activities director then and now took a chance on me. It was a talented group who again were looking for opportunities to compete and excel. We learned a lot together and as individuals. They won many games and lost six. It was during those losses that we learned what it was going to take to be successful in postseason play.
In the 2001-2002 season, 30 years after Title IX, it marked the first year there was a two-class girls hockey tournament. Class AA had eight teams and Class A had four teams qualify because of the number of participating teams. The tournament was held at the State Fairgrounds Coliseum. It was an experience I hope all involved will never forget. It was the first of its kind and would be a springboard for our current state tournament.
I can recall almost every moment of those games as a coach. After victories against Farmington and Hibbing, that group of female student-athletes were the first Class A champion in Girls Hockey. The title, trophy and medals were a reward for an incredible accomplishment. The true accomplishments, though, were what they learned as a team throughout the entire season. Following that season, many of us went our separate ways. Many graduated and undoubtedly went on to accomplish even greater accomplishments on the ice and in life.
That July, I accepted the activities director position at Mounds View High School where I would spend the next 15 years professionally. I truly believe this would never have occurred without those lessons I learned from all those student-athletes and experiences.
Imagine a time when those opportunities and experiences did not exist. The adoption of Title IX was proceeded by heroes who were pioneers. This group of pioneers simply sought the opportunity to compete in opportunities that did not exist.
We need to personally thank those who came before us with the wisdom of what those opportunities would create. Let’s take the time to celebrate all we have accomplished because of one of the most important pieces of legislation our nation has known.