The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

CNHI News Service Originals

June 25, 2012

Faces of Title IX: Women share their stories

CLINTON — An Olympic-level diver, a high school valedictorian looking for big-city adventure, a softball player who refused to quit and a basketball star who learned the game by playing against her brothers' friends. All were pioneers in women's college sports when Title IX equalized access to academics and athletics.

Here are their stories.

Laura Silvieus, University of Chicago

ASHTABULA, Ohio – Laura Silvieus may not call herself a pioneer, but 40 years ago she stood where few women America had ever been – at the threshold of college with an athletic scholarship.

"I didn’t knock down any barriers," said Silvieus. "I just happened to be there when doors opened."

Silvieus didn't need much help getting into college when she graduated as valedictorian from Edgewood High School near Ashtabua. She led the student council and her senior class. She was vice president of the science club. She captained the girls' softball and basketball teams and was MVP in a recreational volleyball league.

"I would have gone to college whether I got a scholarship or not," she said.

But shortly after the passage of Title IX, an English teacher showed Silvieus a Parade magazine article about the University of Chicago’s offer of athletic scholarships to women. One student was to receive a scholarship for the 1973-74 school year. Interest was so overwhelming that two awards were given, to Silvieus and Noel Bairey of Modesto, Calif.

Silvieus said the University of Chicago, 400 miles from home, gave her a big-city education while making graduate school attainable. Chicago also was the setting of a successful athletic career: Silvieus was MVP in volleyball in 1975 and 1976, and in basketball in 1977. She wrote her name into the university’s record book and was inducted in the inaugural class of its athletic Hall of Fame in 2003.

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