Last week, Nevada Athletics held its Salute to Champions Dinner to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Title IX, the federal civil rights law that prevents gender discrimination in education.
In addition to a great keynote address by Olympic gold medalist Brandi Chastain, the evening celebrated the success of women's athletics at the University of Nevada as well as honored some donors and decisionmakers who contributed to that success.
We were fortunate enough to have some former student-athletes from the 1940s, 1950s, 1970s, 1980s and 1990s with interesting stories to tell about their time at Nevada.
Prior to the passage of Title IX in 1972, budgets for women's sports were very small or non-existent and women did not receive scholarships, often had to share uniforms or make their own and sometimes had to sleep in travel vans or on gym floors.
Female student-athletes also did not receive lettermen's jackets like their male counterparts, so in honor of these women, we presented them with a letter at last night's dinner.
In attendance were event emcee Wendy Damonte who swam for the Wolf Pack in the early 1990s, Angie Taylor who played basketball from 1982-86 before going on to work as an administratory in the Wolf Pack athletics department, Jane Miller who played basketball, volleyball and softball from 1972-76, Jane Witter who skied for the Wolf Pack from 1971-74, Pat Klos who skied from 1958-59 and Betty Macaulay who competed in basketball, volleyball, tennis, horseback riding and rifle in the late 1940s.
Miller and Witter both experienced firsthand the benefits of the passage of Title IX during their collegiate careers although they both said they didn't know it at the time. Miller said that suddenly she started receiving money for books during her career as a student-athlete, while Witter said that her parents had to pay for all of her competitions up until her final race in 1974 when the university paid her travel expenses.
"I didn't know about Title IX at the time, but it always seemed unfair that the university paid for the men's events and not the women's," Witter said.
Klos joined the skiing team in the late 1950s. She said there wasn't a women's ski team, but a few of her friends recruited her to ski because they could race in the downhill and slalom against other schools if they had enough women. Klos said that the women had to make their own ski jackets, so she joked being able to sew was a requirement to join the team. She said that one of her teammates had a pattern, so all of the women went to her house to make their jackets.
And finally Macaulay shared a great story about how three of the women on the rifle team in the 1940s were chosen for the men's team in a shooting match against California. She said that their gender was not given on the roster, so "when we showed up at the rifle range, the men were flabbergasted." The Wolf Pack, with the three women, went on to outshoot Cal.
All in all, it was a great night and a wonderful opportunity to celebrate the history and success of Wolf Pack women's athletics, pre- and post-Title IX. Here is a photo of all of the former student-athletes who were in attendance at the dinner (from left to right: Wendy Damonte, Angie Taylor, Pat Klos, Betty Macaulay, Jane Witter, Jane Miller):