Tag Archives: Staples High School girls soccer team

Title IX: 50 Years Of Girls Sports Progress

In 1964, coach Jinny Parker’s 440 relay team– Joy Wassell, Mary Gail Horelick, Susan Tefft and Donna Jackson — set a national record: 53.7 seconds.

They were all Staples High School students. But they were a club team, not a varsity sport. Back then, the only official track team was for boys.

Girls had just 3 interscholastic options: field hockey in fall, basketball in winter (6-vs.-6; 3 players on each side of the court, to minimize running and sweating), softball in the spring.

Staples’ 1954-55 girls basketball team.

That’s ancient history, it seems. Today, Staples fields more girls teams than boys. Many — including soccer and field hockey — are perennial state title contenders. They draw large crowds, including proud fathers and young girls who aspire to one day be Wreckers themselves.

Staples’ girls soccer team is the defending state champion. (Photo/JC Martin)

But the growth of girls sports is relatively new. It was kick-started exactly 50 years ago — on June 23, 1972 — when President Nixon signed into law Title IX.*

The federal civil rights statute — really, just 37 words tucked inside much broader education legislation — prohibits sex-based discrimination in any school or other education program that receives funding from the federal government.

(Interestingly, the words “sports,” “athletics” and “physical education” appear nowhere in the text.)

In 1970-71, coach Marianne Harrison’s girls basketball team played its first official FCIAC season. The rules had changed the previous year to be similar to the boys game — but they still wore bloomers.

Girls sports have evolved enormously over 5 decades. Staples now offers 19  interscholastic sports for girls, 18 for boys. Sailing is co-ed.

(Wrestling is listed as a boys sport, and competitive and sideline cheerleading for girls. Both genders are eligible to try out for those teams, though the number is small.)

There are nearly 2,000 students at Staples, in grades 9 through 12. More than half — 1,018 — played at least one interscholastic sport this year, at the varsity, junior varsity or reserve level.

There are more male athletes (573) than female (445). But that’s a lot more than the few dozen girls who competed when Title IX was enacted.

Staples’ Marisa Shorrock and a Greenwich High player fight for a loose ball in 2020. Coach Paco Fabian’s team had just won their state quarterfinal game, and were favorites to win the state title, when COVID ended the season.

So, “06880” wants to know: How has Title IX impacted your sports life?

Women: What opportunities has it offered you — or what did you miss?

Girls: Are there any differences between your sports experiences today, and those of your brothers and male friends?

Men: Are your daughters’ athletic careers any different from your sisters’, female friends — or mothers’?

Tell us your stories! Click “Comments” below.

And then raise a stein to Title IX.

You’ve come a long way, baby.

*The Watergate break-in took place on June 17, 1972 — just 6 days earlier. Less than a week separated one of the highs of President Nixon’s administration, and one of its lows.

Staples had very few girls sports before Title IX. But in the 1930s, they did have a girls rifle team. (The boys had one too.) This 1936 yearbook photo, with coach Walter Stevenson, called them “Annie Oakleys.”

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