In the past few months, senior Morgan Frank has made headlines for being 19 points away from breaking Mundelein’s career scoring record while Libertyville girl’s gymnastics won at regionals and have been setting school records of their own. Today we take these things for granted, yet only forty-seven years ago, there were no provisions on the state or federal level for girls interscholastic sports (and as late as the early 1960’s it was against the law in Alabama). So in this post, I thought it would be interesting to examine the history of the titular Title IX (which actually has nothing to do with athletics), the surprisingly long history of girls sports at LHS, and the continuing fight against sexism and for equal access to athletic opportunities and scholarships.
As early as 1919, girls attending Libertyville Township High School, originally located at 416 W. Park Ave., had the opportunity to participate in at least some athletic events. Called “play days”, these were informal meetups where students could compete in class vs. class basketball and volleyball tournaments, although there was apparently at least one game against Warren, which Libertyville won. The girls had no uniforms, were not allowed to form teams, and were only allowed to play half-court basketball, dribbling the ball three times before being expected to pass it. In 1922, students at LHS started a chapter of the Girls Athletic Association (GAA) which organized girls’ athletic activities at the school. During the 1930’s Dorothy Wihr, a student at LHS, made quite the name for herself, participating in all six sports sponsored by the GAA, and serving as its president during her senior year. After graduating in 1935, she went on to participate in the 1948 Olympics on the women’s track and field team. Despite her successes, not much would change over the succeeding decades.
In the fall of 1968, Gretchen Hausmann arrived at Libertyville High School as its newest P.E. teacher. Noticing that the girls in her classes had the same amount of talent and interest in sports as the boys, she worked with coaches Randi Samkus and Sue Rocchi (Bruett) to see what they could do. In 1969, they started a girls tennis team, the first girl’s athletic team at LHS, and arranged a couple of informal volleyball competitions against a few neighboring schools. Like the girls before them, however, they had no uniforms, had to practice at night after the boy’s teams were done using the gym, and Hausmann used her own car to drive the students to their games. The coaches persisted however and were able to add golf in 1970.
Around that same time, Mundelein High School, having split off from what had been the Libertyville-Fremont High School into Mundelein and Libertyville High Schools respectively, saw its first class walk through its doors on September 6, 1961. During the 1961-62 school year girls at Mundelein, like their counterparts in Libertyville, quickly started their own GAA chapter. The group organized winter and summer sporting events including bowling, soccer, badminton (played outside and in 8″ of snow no less), and judging from pictures in Mundelein High School’s yearbook, The Obelisk for 1961-62, informal volleyball competitions. The GAA at Mundelein continued to grow and by 1968 had added a historian and publicist. In 1970, after many long hours of planning by Coaches Broege and Soghigian, the GAA was folded into girls’ intramurals, putting the girls on a more equal footing with their male counterparts. That same year the Gymkanna Club gave the girls at Mundelein an opportunity to participate in acrobatic gymnastics, although their routines were part of Mundelein’s annual “Hey Rube” show, a theatrical and comedic gymnastics production, than actual competition. Despite their limited opportunities, the girls at Mundelein were luckier than many of their peers, since according to the National Federation of High Schools, in 1970 only 1 in 27 high school girls played any kind of varsity sports (compared to 1 in 2 in 2019).
As girls at both schools made the most of the opportunities they had, on July 2, 1964, after years of protests, lobbying, and a personal appeal to Congress by President Johnson, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was signed into law. Banning, at least on paper, discrimination based on race, religion, sex, or national origin, the authors of the act had neglected to prohibit sex discrimination at educational institutions. This omission was quickly noticed by members of the National Organization for Women (NOW), a feminist group founded in 1966 by women frustrated with the federal government’s failure to enforce anti-discrimination laws. The group began a campaign to get Congress to amend the 1964 Civil Rights Act to explicitly prohibit discrimination based on sex in schools. Finally, after years of lobbying, on June 23, 1972, Congress enacted 20 U.S. Code § 1681 – Sex (which would become better known as Title IX). The law, in whole, reads:
“No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance”.
After that, changes happened so quickly that you can see the difference from one year to the next just by looking at the yearbooks. According to Coach Hausmann “By the time Title IX was passed LHS was so ready for girls athletics.”5 In 1974, the girls finally received school-issued uniforms and were playing basketball, baseball, tennis, and gymnastics, with their volleyball team winning a sectional title and the track team winning conferences and district. At neighboring Mundelein High School, girls took to the court playing tennis, basketball, volleyball, softball, in addition to track and acrobatic gymnastics. Under Coaches Broege and Soghigian, the girl’s volleyball and gymnastics teams started out especially strong, with both winning sectionals in the fall of 1974.
Despite these changes, there was still a great deal of resistance and many schools continued to prioritize boys’ athletics. Because of this, girls’ teams were often forced to accommodate boys’ teams’ schedules, playing multiple games in a single day or practicing in gyms with inadequate space. Funding for girls sports also continued to lag far behind their male peers, equaling only 2% of what was spent on boys sports in 1975. That same year Walter Byers, the executive director of the National Collegiate Athletic association (NCAA), passed a resolution calling for the repeal of Title IX, saying “two percent is enough.”21 Even in 2002, when the Daily Herald asked its readers to comment on Title IX for their coverage of the bill’s 30th anniversary, a few readers had less than enthusiastic responses, accusing Title IX of being a “quota system” that “destroy[ed] the boys program.”7
Today, despite various protections for sex discrimination under Title IX being rolled back and persistent inequalities (in 2015 the National Women’s Law Center ranked Illinois 32nd in gender equity in high school sports), girls athletics at Libertyville and Mundelein are thriving!16 Libertyville’s girl’s teams have a number of conference, sectional, and regional trophies. The girls at Mundelein have had their own athletic success, with Rachel Robb placing first in the Illinois State Champion 200-meter Free Relay in 2013 and senior Khari Thompkins breaking the school’s record for the 400-meter dash in 2019 before going on to run track at another of my alma maters, Eastern Illinois University, which gave her a full-ride scholarship. Anyway, I hope you enjoyed this fast-paced, high-stakes look at the history of Title IX and some truly amazing athletes!
- An Act to amend the Higher Education Act of 1965, the Vocational Education Act of 1963, the General Education Provisions Act (creating a National Foundation for Postsecondary Education and a National Institute of Education), the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, Public Law 874, Eighty-first Congress, and related Acts, and for other purposes. U.S. Statutes at Large 86 (1973): 92-318. https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/STATUTE-86/pdf/STATUTE-86-Pg235.pdf
- Bell, Taylor. “Bias Holds Back Girls’ Programs.” Chicago Sun-Times, February 11, 1991. https://infoweb.newsbank.com/apps/news/document-view?p=NewsBank&t=&sort=YMD_date:D&maxresults=20&f=advanced&val-base-0=Bias holds back girls’ programs&fld-base-0=Title&docref=news/0EB3733528133888.
- Eggert , Dale. “LHS at 100: Title IX Opens Doors for Libertyville High School Girls Sports.” Daily Herald, October 18, 2017. https://www.dailyherald.com/submitted/20171018/lhs-at-100-title-ix-opens-doors-for-libertyville-high-school-girls-sports.
- Eggert, Dale. “LHS’s Winning Girls Volleyball Program Predates the Title IX – Ruling.” Daily Herald, June 9, 2018. https://infoweb.newsbank.com/apps/news/document-view?p=NewsBank&t=&sort=YMD_date:D&maxresults=20&f=advanced&val-base-0=LHS’s winning girls volleyball&fld-base-0=Title&docref=news/16C7A798721818C0.
- Eggert, Dale. Libertyville High School Athletic History : the First 100 Years (1918-2017) . Goodlettsville, TN: SIA Publishing , LLC, 2019.
- Eggert, Dale. “Title IX Had Huge Impact at Libertyville High School.” Daily Herald. March 31, 2018. https://infoweb.newsbank.com/apps/news/document-view?p=NewsBank&t=&sort=YMD_date:D&fld-base-0=alltext&maxresults=20&val-base-0=Title IX had huge impact at Libertyville High School&docref=news/16B0894847EA7958.
- Gibson, Charlotte. “ESPN.com.” ESPN.com (blog). Entertainment and Sports Programming Network, January 15, 2020. https://www.espn.com/espn/story/_/id/28489077/report-finds-strides-made-women-sports-years-inequality-remains.
- McGraw, Patricia Babcock. “Readers Sound off on Title IX Series.” Daily Herald, July 31, 2002. https://infoweb.newsbank.com/apps/news/document-view?p=NewsBank&t=pubname:ADHB!Daily+Herald+%28Arlington+Heights%2C+IL%29&sort=YMD_date:D&maxresults=20&f=advanced&val-base-0=Readers sound off on Title IX&fld-base-0=Title&docref=news/0F4D8137F76B6A82.
- McGraw, Patricia Babcock. “You Go, Girl! Thanks to Title IX, Women’s Sports Ain’t What – They Used to Be.” Daily Herald. June 23, 2002. https://infoweb.newsbank.com/apps/news/document-view?p=NewsBank&t=&sort=YMD_date:D&maxresults=20&f=advanced&val-base-0=You go, girl! Thanks to Title IX&fld-base-0=Title&docref=news/0F461729DFF21448.
- Narang , Bob. “‘She’s Made Her Place in Program History’: On the Verge of Breaking Mundelein’s Career Scoring Record, Senior Morgan Frank Has Become a Different Kind of Leader.” Lake County News-Sun. February 12, 2020. https://www.chicagotribune.com/suburbs/lake-county-news-sun/sports/ct-lns-spt-girls-basketball-mundelein-morgan-frank-st-021320-20200212-7qvquiwfbnhz7kzwovxodhkaga-story.html.
- Ngwangu, Caleb. “The Mustang: The Student News Site of Mundelein High School.” The Mustang: The Student News Site of Mundelein High School (blog). Mundelein High School, February 20, 2019. https://mhsmustang.com/4577/sports/thompkins-takes-track-career-to-next-level/.
- Obelisk 61. Mundelein High School. Mundelein, IL. 1961.
- Photos courtesy of Libertyville High School, Mundelein High School, and Visual Image Photography.
- “Repeal of Equality Act Sought.” Chicago Tribune (1963-1996), Jun 24, 1975. https://search.proquest.com/docview/169349115?accountid=44868.
- Rogan, Toni. Mundelein High School: Twenty Five Years, 1961-1986. Universal Press, 1987.
- Silber, Rusty. “Mundelein, Libertyville’s Becker Shine at Regional.” Daily Herald , February 5, 2020. https://www.dailyherald.com/sports/20200205/mundelein-libertyvilles-becker-shine-at-regional.
- State Ranking of Gender Equity in High School Sports. National Women’s Law Center, June 2015. https://nwlc-ciw49tixgw5lbab.stackpathdns.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/state_ranking_of_gender_equity_in_high_school_sports.pdf.
- Nautilus 71. Libertyville Township High School. Libertyville, IL. 1971.
- Photos courtesy of Mundelein High School and Libertyville High School
- Wong, Alia. “Where Girls Are Missing Out on High-School Sports.” The Atlantic (blog), June 26, 2015. https://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2015/06/girls-high-school-sports-inequality/396782/.
- Zyda, Joan. “Title IX Gains Put Victory within Sight.” Chicago Tribune, May 3, 1976. https://infoweb.newsbank.com/iw-search/we/HistArchive?p_action=doc&p_docid=0FABFE314CB1B3FB&f_image=19760503C015340004200000&f_pty=CL&p_docnum=1&p_queryname=5600&p_theme=ctha&p_nbid=A66C59BXMTU3OTAyMjYwMy4yNzg1MzoxOjEzOjE3My4xNS4yMy4xMjQ&p_product=CTHA.