ILWACO & NASELLE — Forty years ago a portion of the amendment to the Equal Opportunity in Education Act called Title IX helped create equality of opportunity for girls and women in high school and college sports throughout the nation. The amendment, penned by Patsy Mink, states:

    “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.”

    With that one sentence, millions of females throughout the United States were guaranteed equal opportunity in sports and other educational programs, even though there was no specific mention of sports in the original amendment. Washington is one of 17 states that also includes Title IX legislation for funding at the state level.

    Before Title IX there were only a few play days and a physical education class or two for females to compete in athletics and be a part of certain other educational activities in Pacific County. In 1960 hall of fame basketball and volleyball coach Bertha Koplitz and her hall of fame basketball husband Don Koplitz came to teach and coach at South Bend High School.

    “I wanted to give more girls a chance to play,” Bertha said humbly. She was a pioneer in girls’ athletics along with Naselle’s Eleanor Hillis and Betty Harrow from Ocosta. “We met at a physical education workshop at Pacific Lutheran University and decided to start girls’ sports in 1963. (South Bend) superintendent Gareth Giles was very supportive,” Bertha said.

1974 tournament

    Following Title IX, a state basketball tournament for all classifications was begun in 1974 at Central Washington University. Wapato defeated Everett 36-28 in the championship game and small schools were represented as Ocosta defeated Ritzville 36-33 for fifth place. In the meantime the boys had four state tournaments in venues in Spokane and Seattle.

    By 1978 classifications were created for the girls and at present the boys and girls play in the same coliseums and domes in Tacoma, Spokane and Yakima in front of thousands of fans. This is a far cry from the field days that occurred three times a year on a Saturday in South Bend or Naselle.

    The National Federation of High School Associations reports that in 2010-11, there were 4,494,406 boys and 3,173,549 girls participating in high school athletics. Washington ranks 17th overall in total sports participation according to the WIAA. There were 93,840 boys and 71,018 girls who played sports in 2012-13 according to the WIAA. Nationally boys make up 58 percent of the participation and in Washington 57 percent of all athletes are boys.

    Ilwaco has seven boys and seven girls’ sports and Naselle has five sports for each gender. Sports include cross country, football and volleyball in the fall. In the winter both schools have basketball and Ilwaco has wrestling for both genders. In the spring both schools have baseball, softball, track and Ilwaco offers boys’ and girls’ golf.

    The number of participants last year for Ilwaco included 146 boys and 95 girls, where if a student-athlete participated in volleyball, basketball and softball she would be counted three times. The numbers for Naselle were 76 boys and 61 girls. There were 33 boys and eight girls who began wrestling for Ilwaco, creating the largest difference in participation between the two local schools. At Ilwaco 61 percent of its athletes were boys and Naselle was 55 percent boys. The percentage of boys in the two schools is 59 percent, nearly identical to Washington and the nation’s average.

    The wording of Title IX is very brief, requiring specific language and clarifications to be articulated in its implementing regulations. President Richard Nixon directed the Department of Health, Education and Welfare to carry this out.

    Some believe that the increase in athletic opportunity for girls in high school has come at the expense of boys’ athletics. The College Sports Council has stated, “Nationwide, there are currently 1.3 million more boys participating in high school sports than girls. Using a gender quota to enforce Title IX in high school sports would put those young athletes at risk of losing their opportunity to play.”

    On April 20, 2010, the United States Commission on Civil Rights weighed in on the Office of Civil Right’s procedures for implementing Title IX. On that date, the Commission on Civil Rights released several recommendations on Title IX policy to address what it termed “unnecessary reduction of men’s athletic opportunities.” The Commission advocated use of surveys to measure interest, and specifically recommended that the Department of Education’s regulations on interest and abilities be revised “to explicitly take into account the interest of both sexes rather than just the interest of the underrepresented sex,” almost always females.

What is “equal”?

    With respect to athletic programs, the Department of Education evaluates the following factors in determining whether equal treatment exists:

    • Whether the selection of sports and levels of competition effectively accommodate the interests and abilities of members of both sexes;

    • The provision of equipment and supplies;

    • Scheduling of games and practice time;

    • Travel and per diem allowance;

    • Opportunity to receive coaching and academic tutoring on mathematics only;

    • Assignment and compensation of coaches and tutors;

    • Provision of locker rooms, practice and competitive facilities;

    • Provision of medical and training facilities and services;

    • Provision of housing and dining facilities and services;

    • Publicity.

    Unequal aggregate expenditures for members of each sex or unequal expenditures for male and female teams if a recipient operates or sponsors separate teams will not constitute noncompliance with this section, but the Assistant Secretary [of Education for Civil Rights] may consider the failure to provide necessary funds for teams for one sex in assessing equality of opportunity for members of each sex.


Civil Rights Act

    The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was written in order to end discrimination based on religion, race, color, or national origin. The act also energized the women’s rights movement, which had somewhat slowed after women’s suffrage in 1920. Title IX enacted in 1972 has the same leveling effect on women’s sports in America. Pacific County school districts have been in solid compliance since the beginning.

    Naselle girls’ basketball teams have been in the state tournament eight times, finishing second in 1979. The Lady Fishermen first went to state in 1977 and they have made 13 appearances in “the big dance,” finishing as high as third in 1995.

    Playing before thousands of fans in state tournaments and as part of double-headers with the boys for league contests is a far cry from the rare play days of the 1960s. To coin a phrase, “You’ve come a long way, baby” since the 1950s when Bertha Koplitz used to play basketball and there were three guards on one side of the court and three forwards on the other — thanks to Title IX.

    Providing athletic participation opportunities that are substantially proportionate to the student enrollment. This prong of the test is satisfied when participation opportunities for men and women are “substantially proportionate” to their respective undergraduate enrollment.

    Demonstrating a continual expansion of athletic opportunities for the underrepresented sex. This prong of the test is satisfied when an institution has a history and continuing practice of program expansion that is responsive to the developing interests and abilities of the underrepresented sex (typically female).

    Accommodating the interest and ability of underrepresented sex. This prong of the test is satisfied when an institution is meeting the interests and abilities of its female students even where there are disproportionately fewer females than males participating in sports.





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