Editor in Chief
“Title IX changed my life completely.”
These words were uttered by women’s basketball coach Naomi Graves, one of three panel members, after the viewing of the succinct but powerful documentary called, Sporting Chance: The Lasting Legacy of Title IX.
The film, narrated by Holly Hunter, chronicled the need, process and achievements of Title IX. It not only gave a detailed overview of how the law came to be, but detailed how it changed women’s lives by increasing opportunities not only in sports, but in the classroom as well.
Distinguished Professor of Humanics Carol Mitchell teamed with the Celebration of the 50th Anniversary of Women’s Varsity Athletics at Springfield College Committee to host the event, which was held in the Fuller Arts Center on Monday, March 10 at 7 p.m. The event was also part of the William Simpson Fine Arts Series, and included a panel discussion after the approximately hour-long viewing.
Mitchell decided to include the film as one of her “distinguished” events to honor the yearlong celebration of women’s varsity athletics on campus.
“We’re really talking about tremendous change that has occurred, and I just wanted to give tribute to that and to the remarkable women here [at the college],” Mitchell said.
The film may have been only an hour long, but it did not waste a second. From powerful narration by Hunter to personal stories from such names as Donna Lopiano (who spoke at Springfield in the fall), Billie Jean King, Tamika Catchings, Dot Richardson and more, the film not only captivated the audience, but whisked them along on an educational journey through women’s fight for equality and civil rights in the United States.
After witnessing the stories of many women (and some men) who fought for, lived through, and experienced the ups and downs surrounding the passing and enforcement of Title IX, a panel of carefully selected members localized the story.
Springfield College Athletic Director Cathie Schweitzer, former softball coach and current chair of the Movement and Sports Studies Department Kathy Mangano, and the aforementioned Naomi Graves began the commentary by sharing personal stories. Each one was affected in a unique way by the inequality for women in sports at the time, and vividly painted a picture of frustration and sadness at being denied opportunities that males received.
For these three Springfield College representatives and strong female presences on the campus, Title IX truly did change their lives. It is hard to imagine any of them being in their respective jobs positions without the aid of the bill.
For Mitchell, the reaction during the Q-and-A session validated her decision to choose the three women for the panel.
“I feel that there were young members of the audience who might not have experienced and realized what so many of these women sacrificed and had to do to get to a position where they were able to become teachers and coaches and professors,” Mitchell said. “I wanted them to be aware of how far we’ve come.”
The mission of the evening, as with all of Mitchell’s film events, is to entertain, educate and inform. Not only was the event all of these, but it fit in nicely with her theme as the distinguished professor of Humanics, “Experiencing Humanics Through Film.”
“The group [on the panel and in the film] talked about learning the values of a team and learning leadership. Those are some of the things that we talk about in the Humanics Philosophy, and we can look at these women who have been wonderful leaders here at the college and are teaching leadership to their students,” Mitchell said.
Title IX not only changed the lives of former female athletes and students, but still improves the lives of women today. Thanks to Mitchell’s film screening and panel discussion event, knowledge of its effects lives on at Springfield College.