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UK women leaders talk impact of Title IX

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Posted at 5:00 PM, Jun 23, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-23 21:09:18-04

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX18) — In recognition of the 50th anniversary of the signing of Title IX, female leaders came together for a panel discussion about the progress made over the last half-century.

The forum was held at the University of Kentucky’s Charles Wethington Building, which houses the College of Health Sciences.

Among the group of women speaking was Kathy DeBoer, the executive director of the American Volleyball Coaches Association, who emphasized the message that progress and change do not happen on their own.

“Things don’t change because you want them to change. Things don’t change because what currently exists is unfair. It changes because people take action,” DeBoer said.

DeBoer also a former coach and administrator for UK, took the time to recognize the improvements Big Blue Nation has made over the last few decades to increase opportunities for athletes, both male and female.

“Softball, soccer, women’s programs added in the last 20 years. Men’s soccer also,” DeBoer said.

“Title IX does not say you can’t add opportunities for men. It says you must add opportunities for the underrepresented sex. The number of facilities. The quality of the coaching staff. All of those things Mitch Barnhart has made major strides on.”

Also on Thursday’s panel was Mary Lloyd Ireland, M.D.

Ireland is the co-director of the University of Kentucky’s Active Women’s Health Initiative.

This program was started four years ago to promote health for girls and women of all ages.

The initiative tackles obstacles such as physical activity promotion and injury prevention, treatment, and rehabilitation.

For Lloyd, who is a Kentuckian and athlete born and bred, being able to see the Active Women’s Health Initiative grow alongside Title IX is a powerful connection to help foster.

“Just to be active as a Kentuckian, that’s important to plant that seed. Then if we become an athlete, that’s even better,” Lloyd said.

“Title IX allows us as girls to know that we can get scholarships in certain sports. We can have scholarship opportunities as girls, get educated, and become the professional you decide to be.”

In DeBoer’s words, “you never want to waste an anniversary,” relishing in the opportunity to highlight and celebrate this milestone year for Title IX.

However, she also acknowledged that progress needs to be discussed and pushed for more than just on the day of recognition.

“Most social change and social movements happen in waves and unfortunately we spend a lot of our time not paying attention to it,” DeBoer said.

“It’s anniversaries like this that give us an opportunity to look at where have we arrived, what has changed, and what work still needed to be done.”