By Katie Dahlstrom
Herald Staff Writer
A year before Barb Brondyke signed her contract to be a physical education and health teacher as well as coach at Clinton High School, the first CHS girls basketball team was preparing for graduation.
The year was 1977 and five years earlier Title IX, which requires women and girls to have the same access to sports as men and boys, was signed into law.
Read more Title IX stories throughout the day.
Brondyke entered CHS in 1978 ready to teach as well as coach volleyball and tennis and found a full roster of women’s sports.
Women could compete against other schools in gymnastics, tennis, golf, volleyball, swimming, track, softball and basketball. If she had arrived nine years earlier, Brondyke would have found no interscholastic teams, only an intramural group called the Pollywogs, which did exhibition synchronized swimming, and the pep squad, which did exhibition synchronized dancing and marching.
The first interscholastic competing women’s sport to be practiced at CHS was gymnastics in 1969. Tennis and golf followed shortly, arriving in 1970. Their male counterparts began in 1948 and 1927, respectively.
“We have to be thankful for strong women who feel that we deserve a voice and a place,” Brondyke said.
The strong women Brondyke refers to are the ones who pushed for women to have the opportunity to play the same sports as men through Title IX, which celebrates its 40th anniversary today.
The appearance of many women’s sports at CHS predates Title IX by a couple of years.
In addition to women’s gymnastics, tennis and golf, volleyball came in 1971, followed by swimming in 1972 and track in 1973.
River Queens started playing softball sometime between 1975 and 1977 and six-on-six basketball in 1974. CHS also currently offers girl’s soccer, cheerleading/dance and co-ed bowling.
Krista Cagley was on the first CHS women’s basketball team. She played from her sophomore year until she graduated.
“We had a lot of talented girls,” she said. “We were lucky to have those three years.”
While basketball may have been instituted in response to Title IX, Cagley said before the legislation she never felt slighted. She played sports during middle school and arrived in high school to find a new team she could compete on.
“I was fortunate enough to not feel like I missed out on anything,” she said.
Maureen Roushar, who graduated from CHS in 1989, played basketball, golf and volleyball during high school.
She received a full-ride scholarship to Iowa State to play golf, where she said she noticed the impact of Title IX more. At that time, colleges were still trying to balance budgets in order to meet the standards required by the law. Despite, the athletic program changes going on at Iowa State, Roushar said she never felt restricted by her gender.
“I am who I am today probably because of Title IX,” she said. “Being involved in sports gave me a strong work ethic and opened doors for me.”
The opportunity to be involved in interscholastic sports was different for Brondyke, who can remember begging her parents to let her go to a private school that offered sports.
“We never understood why we couldn’t have the same things. Why couldn’t we have basketball?” she said. “It was never that we wanted to play with the boys, we wanted to have those things for ourselves.”
Brondyke finally got the opportunity to compete when girls tennis came to her high school in Pella. Although her true love was basketball and she had never played tennis in her life, Brondyke said it didn’t matter. The thrill of competition enticed her.
“My first choice was tennis. So, whether I wanted to do that or not, that’s what I did, because that was what was available to me,” she said.
After playing tennis for a year, basketball also became available to the Pella High School girls. Brondyke and her team mates attended camps and did a year of scrimmages before playing their first season.
“We didn’t win a single game, but we all got to play,” she said of her year playing high school basketball.
She continued to play tennis through high school and college and has coached tennis at CHS throughout her entire 34-year career.
Current female high school athletes have a very different experience, she said.
“They have so many things available to them, they have a hard time choosing what sport to play,” she said. “I’m proud of the fact that girls today and those opportunities to compete and still be women.”
One of the athletes Brondyke has worked with is Meggie Buikema. Buikema graduated from CHS this year. She played basketball freshman year and cross country and tennis all four years.
She said playing sports gave her something to look forward to and a reason to push herself outside of academics.
“I’m more confident because I’ve done things that I didn’t think I could do before,” she said.
Buikema said she never felt the male athletes ever got more opportunities than she did.
“I don’t know what I would have done without sports,” she said.
Brondyke said as a head coach for women’s tennis she feels the effects of Title IX everyday. In addition to coaching countless women through both volleyball and tennis, she has watched her daughter and two sons compete in athletics through CHS and through summer leagues.
“They’re very fortunate in my opinion. I felt they had all the same opportunities. I know Title IX has been a part of that.”