For young women with athletic aspirations, life before the enactment of Title IX was vastly different. Primary physical activities for women included cheerleading and square dancing, and a mere 1 in 27 girls played sports in their high school years. Scholarships for female athletics were virtually unheard of, and women received a mere 2 percent of a school’s overall athletic budget.
Despite the limitations placed on women in the decades before the enactment of Title IX, many women had successful athletic careers. One such woman was Babe Didrikson Zaharias, who is arguably one of the most accomplished all-around athletes of our time, who accelerated in nearly every sport she tried: basketball, track, golf, baseball, tennis, swimming, diving, boxing, volleyball. Handball, bowling, billiards, skating, and cycling. Continue reading Babe Didrikson Zaharias: the Most Prolific All-Around Athlete in Sports History
Gertrude Ederle became known as ‘Queen of the Waves’ for her record breaking achievements in swimming; becoming the first woman to swim the English Channel.
Gertrude Ederle was born in New York city in 1905. Her parents were German immigrants who owned a butchers shop. As a child Gertrude very quickly took to the water, being taught to swim by her father during their family holidays in New Jersey.
Continue reading Gertrude Ederle – Queen of the Waves
Althea Gibson overcame racial barriers to become one of the world’s greatest tennis players ever!
Althea Gibson was born in August 1927 in South Carolina where her parents worked on a cotton farm. When the Great Depression struck, Althea’s family, like many others across the country, were hit hard. In 1930 they packed up and moved north to Harlem. Once there her family weren’t wealthy and relied on benefits to get by.
Continue reading Althea Gibson – Grand Slam Shero
Lily Parr was maybe the greatest female football player who ever lived! In a career that spanned over 30 years she scored nearly 1000 goals!
Lily was born in Merseyside on 29th April 1905. She was the fourth of seven children, and as she grew up she prefered kicking a ball around with her brothers to sitting inside and sewing like most other girls her age. She quickly became adept at both football and rugby, but it was football that was to become her life’s passion. By 1919 she had joined the St Helen’s Ladies football team.
Continue reading Lily Parr – Shero shoots, shero scores!
Wilma Rudolph was known as ‘the fastest woman on earth’, after she became the first American woman to win three Olympic gold medals; but there was once a time in her life when doctors told her she would never walk again – let alone become a world famous runner.
Wilma Glodean Rudolph was born prematurely on 23rd June 1940 in Clarksville, Tennessee, weighing only 4.5 pounds! Born into a very large family, she was the 20th of 22 children!
Very early on in life Wilma became seriously ill, she suffered from many illnesses including pneumonia and scarlet fever. When she was only 4 years old she developed polio. This disease meant that Wilma lost the use of her left leg and foot; it was at this point that doctors told her she would never be able to walk. Wilma’s mother however, disagreed!
Continue reading Wilma Rudolph – ‘the fastest woman on earth’