Before the lights came up on the women’s basketball team during last weekend’s game, another notable group of women gathered in the historic Pauley Pavilion building.
This year marks the 40th anniversary of Title IX, a law that prevents discrimination against women in regard to receiving financial assistance from universities.
A party was held commemorating Title IX and the top 40 female Bruin athletes of the last 40 years, many of whom were in attendance, along with other important figures in UCLA’s history.
And while the event, which included a swim meet and a soccer game, culminated in a halftime ceremony at the women’s basketball game, the pregame party gave many Bruins the chance to reflect on how far women’s collegiate athletics has come since the passing of the amendment.
“When you have many people from many different backgrounds reflect on one paramount law that changed so many women’s lives, it ends up being a room full of great energy and great legacy,” said Sue Enquist, who helped lead UCLA to its first National Championship title in softball before she became a coach for the Bruins.
“I think that is what UCLA is most proud of ““ what these women have done and become ““ and Title IX is a major reason for that.”
Three of UCLA’s chancellors were also in attendance, showing their support. Chancellor Gene Block noted that he and his wife double-checked that the locker rooms and the men’s and women’s basketball teams have equal facilities in regard to size and furniture.
A few hours later, the women’s basketball team was up 24-20 at halftime, and it was time for the women’s achievements to be recognized.
The halftime ceremony honored people associated with the success of women’s athletics at UCLA, for having achieved 52 National Championship titles, awarding them with framed jerseys and pieces of the old Pauley floor ““ physical reminders of the legacy many of the women said they are proud to be a part of.
“All the women athletes that walked along the fields and courts and made so many doors open for other young women … I’m just so grateful to be a part of this university and certainly a part of this athletic department and the championships that have come through here from the women athletes,” said Ann Meyers Drysdale, the first woman to receive a four-year athletic scholarship at UCLA.
Although the women honored at this event went on to pursue varied careers, they agreed that Title IX allowed them to show that women were capable of all the things men were, both in athletics and in other pursuits.
“When I was in middle school and in high school, girls were not allowed to run the soccer field or the basketball field. We had forwards who stayed in one half of the court, guards who stayed in the other and then we had rovers or officials that ran the whole court because girls weren’t supposed to sweat and get overly exerted,” said Senior Associate Athletic Director Petrina Long.
“(Title IX has) shown everyone that women can do all the things that men can do and we do it with our own grace and style.”