Home Sports Girls' Sports - Title IX Nine athletes testify
Nine athletes testify
Written by Rick Waldron   
Wednesday, 21 November 2012 16:19

Lessons of sports have stayed with these women

Kris Livingston
Lake Flyers

When Kris Livingston was ten years-old and a fifth grade student at Lake Elementary, she enjoyed playing basketball with fellow student, Amy Cooley. “We were the only girls who played sports with the boys...if my brothers did it, I did it”, Livingston told the Press.  When the young hoopsters reached Lake Junior High, they were dismayed to find no girls' sports programs. Their junior high sports careers were limited to competing against high school aged girls in a basketball program sponsored by St. Mark Lutheran Church in East Toledo.

The Federal Education Act of 1972 changed the face of athletics forever and was a boon to Livingston's life and subsequent career. She stated succinctly, “If it weren't for Title IX my entire life's path would have changed...thank goodness for all the female pioneers who worked tirelessly to give girls and women like me these opportunities.”

Miami University's Kris
Livingston (Lake)

“Growing up all my sports heroes were men...Jerry West, Bob Griese, Bart Starr, and my two older brothers. And no women sports on TV.” She shared how she had looked through Lake yearbooks and saw pictures of girls who played sports in GAA (Girls' Athletic Association.) “I wanted to be like the girls in the pictures.” She also had a role model in mom, Jan, who was in the GAA while a student at Clay High School.

The fledgling Title IX-inspired programs and Livingston’s aspirations merged in the 1975-76 school year. As a freshman, she was elated, “I could finally play on the varsity teams.” She earned 11 varsity letters in volleyball, basketball and track and was an inaugural inductee in the Lake Athletic Hall of Fame in 1983.

Miami of Ohio offered her a full scholarship to play basketball. While a student there she helped the (then) Redskins post 3 seasons with 20+ wins. They won the MAC championship in her junior and senior seasons.  Livingston credits two Miami women athletic administrators, Elaine Hieber and Coach Pam Wettig, for making sure, “...we had accessibility to the same facilities and practice times as the men and used Title IX as the bargaining tool.”

Livingston was part of a push for equality in awards at Miami. She and other players noticed the football players strolling about campus in their swanky letter jackets. For her All-MAC efforts as a junior she was “awarded a desk pen and pencil set. The senior award was what she calls a “tin cup.” That sits on her desk today as a reminder of a past era.  It took until 2009 for her alma mater to invite her, and myriad other former female student athletes to present them the varsity letters they earned decades earlier. She was recognized for her contributions at Miami when she was inducted into the school's Athletic Hall of Fame in 1997.

Following graduation, Livingston chose to stay close to the collegiate athletic world as a career path. She spent eight years at Iowa State as the Assistant Women’s basketball coach and admissions counselor, followed with a stint in the private business world in the Denver-area and in 1997 she was hired by the University of Colorado (Boulder) to the newly created position of Director of Basketball Operations. She told the Press, “The men's program had filled the identical position a year earlier so, due to gender equality, the women’s program was able to get the same position. Right place, right time. Thank-you, once again, Title IX! It was a wonderful eight years which included two trips to the NCAA Sweet 16 and one to the Elite Eight.”

With the changing of the guard at the head-coaching position, Livingston was kept on staff and is in her eighth year as Director of Student-Athlete Academic Support Services. She is the first female ever in the position and enjoys the title of Assistant Athletics Director/Academics.

Livingston wants to share the thought...”The beauty of Title IX is that young athletes today have had sport opportunities since the day they were born. This is what the pioneers in girls' and women’s sports were working for...I would like for them to understand the battles that took place to elevate females in the sports world that is still dominated by men.”

Livingston credits her athletic experiences for helping prepare her for a career and life as an adult. “Teamwork, time management, ethical leadership and the ability to think quickly, process and make decisions...I apply something I learned through athletics every day of my life. I will always function in teams – with family, co-workers, and friends – and call on the guiding principles that I first learned as a female athlete...because someone/something gave me the opportunity to play sports. Thank you to my mentors and thank you Title IX!!!”

Amy Sander
Genoa Comets

By Cynthia Jacoby
Press Contributing Writer
After devoting much of her lifetime to sports, Amy Sander has learned what she believes to be a universal truth: “If you bring a good product to the floor, people will come,” said Sander, a 1991 graduate of Genoa High School. She sees that every day in her current role as first assistant coach for the women’s basketball team at Minnesota State University.

Genoa guard Amy Sander.

Men and women share the floor in double header events on weekends at the university. The bleachers are filled to cheer for both teams despite gender, Sander said.

It’s a trend she’s glad to see in both the collegiate and high school level.

“When I played high school basketball, a Friday night game was out of the ordinary,” she said of girls sharing the limelight. But Sander said she didn’t mind the girls’ team playing first, building to the boys’ competition. “It was a bit of a showcase for the women’s sports.”

Athletes are a special lot, she noted.

“Anybody that is involved in a team sport gets something out of it,” Sander explained. “You learn to work as a team. You learn to share. There are some things that you don’t really like to do … but you do it for the team. It’s not always about fun. You learn to push through it. Face it, everything in life doesn’t always go the way you want it to.”

That advanced thinking is probably part of the reason she ended up in sports management field. The decision allowed Sander to turn her passion on the court as a kid into a life journey.

Sander was among the fifth class of inductees into the Genoa High School Hall of Fame in October 2001. When she graduated from Genoa, she was the second leading scorer in the school’s history. She was also a member of the first girl’s team to earn at Suburban Lakes League championship in any sport.

She graduated Summa Cum Laude from Baldwin-Wallace in 1995. Sander earned her master’s degree in education from Bowling Green State University in 1997.

Coaching took her to Michigan, Iowa and Nebraska, where she landed a head coach gig, before moving on to Minnesota.

She sees daily the effects of improved attention to girls’ sports at the high school and middle school level.

“The coaching has improved a lot. More is demanded from a player than when I played,” Sander said.

And, of course, she said increased support provided to women’s programs has been critical to their advancement.  

“The women spend a lot more time on strength and conditioning. They spend a lot more time in the weight room. And it’s nothing to see athletes with personal trainers,” Sander said.

Christina Lorton
Waite Indians

By Mark Griffin
Press Contributing Writer

Athletics have been good to Christina Lorton. In fact, it’s led to a career.

Lorton, who was inducted into Waite High School’s Athletic Hall of Fame in 2009, replaced longtime Waite Athletic Director Bob Utter in 2010 after Utter retired. She had served as Utter’s assistant for six years.

Waite athletic director and
former athlete Cris Lorton.

The 1991 Waite grad, 39, said she takes great pride in her role as the Indians’ athletic director. “I think it shows where we’ve come and how we’ve evolved as a community and a nation,” she said of being a female AD. “Everything’s still not equal like we want it, but women are moving up the ladder in that direction.

Lorton added that she had nothing to prove when she took a job dominated by males.

I was at a point in my career where I had my master’s degree in physical education, I had been coaching for 19 years and I was an assistant AD for six years. I thought I would be a good liaison for the parents, the students and the community.”

Lorton, who has coached volleyball at Waite and at East Broadway Middle School, earned 10 varsity letters in basketball, volleyball and track during her four years at Waite. She was a first-team All-City League volleyball selection her junior and senior year and was the team MVP both seasons. She also earned all-league academic honors.

Lorton said playing sports made a huge impact in her life that has carried over into adulthood.

“It definitely made me a well rounded person,” she said. “I played sports all my life. To play at the high school level and play against other teams, it did a lot for my self-esteem, getting to know other people and helping me get my grades up. It was great to just be able to experience that atmosphere on a competitive level.

“My sports went right into my work place. I went into education - physical education - which carried over into my implementing (athletics) into my classroom, having that experience as a player and teaching it to my students. Now that I’m an AD, I have a wide range of sports knowledge.”

After graduating from Waite, Lorton went on to earn her bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of Toledo. She didn’t play any varsity sports at UT.

She added that getting inducted into Waite’s Athletic Hall of Fame three years ago was kind of surreal.

“It was amazing,” she said. “It was everything you worked hard for all your life. You don’t expect an honor, but when it’s given to you, it’s very surreal. I lived my (high school) life in the moment. Ten years down the road, I never envisioned being inducted into the hall of fame.”

Kate Achter
Clay Eagles

By Mark Griffin
Press Contributing Writer

Kate Achter is one of the best female athletes to ever walk the hallways of Clay High School.

By the time she accepted an offer to play basketball at Bowling Green State University, the 2004 Clay graduate had already earned 12 varsity letters in basketball, track and golf.

St. Bonaventure coach
Kate Achter.(Clay/BGSU)

BGSU offered her a full scholarship and she went on to become the school’s career assists leader. She said her four-year college scholarship was worth more than $100,000, “not to mention the really cool trips we got to take all over the country, and the media exposure and the chance to play against the best female athletes in the country.”

Achter, 26, added that her parents, Roger and Maryann, were grateful their daughter worked hard enough to basically put herself through college. She graduated in 2008 with an undergraduate degree in sports management and a Master’s of Education degree.

“Sports is so far reaching in my life,” Achter said. “My scholarship took some financial burden off my parents when they have to put three other (children) through school. It’s great that it awarded me that opportunity. Had I not had the opportunities as a young girl to play basketball and to watch the development of leagues like the WNBA and college basketball grow, I’m not sure I would be in the position that I am.”

Achter, who played professional basketball in Greece for three months after leaving BGSU, is in her third season as an assistant women’s basketball coach at St. Bonaventure University, located about 90 minutes south of Buffalo, N.Y.

She said playing sports taught her lifelong lessons, such as mental toughness and time management. It also helped her “develop my relationship with my father,” who was a longtime Clay girls basketball coach.

“Sports was very important to me on many levels,” Achter said. “I have been able to be successful because of sports. Without it, obviously I wouldn’t be in my current career path and I’m not sure I would have been pushed to reach goals. Sports allows you to reach goals, which is very important in your adult life.”

Achter added that if she wasn’t coaching, she would still be involved in athletics at some level.

“I’d probably be doing something on the business side of sports,” she said. “I have a knack for talking to people. I’ve found my niche in recruiting, and I can easily relate to people. If I had to stop today and find another sports job, I would still use the interpersonal skills I’ve learned and apply it to something else. People forget how well sport translates across the board.”

Kelly Lindesmith
Genoa Comets

By Cindy Jacoby
Press Contributing Writer

For Kelly Lindesmith, playing basketball was a means to an end.

Her years on the basketball court at Genoa High School lead to a scholarship at Tiffin University. There, she continued to hit the court hard but also had her eye on the prize – her undergraduate degree. She then earned her master’s degree at DeVry University.

Kelly Lindesmith

Now an accountant, Lindesmith, a Westerville resident, works for the Department of Defense.

She isn’t involved in sports at a high-intensity level anymore. Basketball, though, taught her a mantra that has carried her through life.

“Hard work and dedication will get you far in life regardless of whether you are in sports or not,” said Lindesmith, a 2001 grad who in September was among the most recent group inducted into Genoa High School Athletic Hall of Fame.

The glory days of high school were short-lived once you stepped on the courts at the college level, she remembered. This was a whole new ball game. You grew up fast.

“Everybody is taller, faster and stronger there,” Lindesmith recalled. “You come in from being the best on your team to everyone is the best.”

Still she made the most of every opportunity. She was grateful for the chance.

Just a few years earlier, a debilitating injury almost ended her high school career.

Lindesmith tore her ACL her junior year.

“That’s a pretty big thing at 16. I thought it was the end of the world. Six months without basketball makes you appreciate it a lot more,” she said.

Her daily routine then consisted of class work and rehabilitation. That’s all she thought about. It paid off when doctors gave her the OK to get back on the court.

Today, Lindesmith keeps her competitive spirit active partaking in intramural softball and volleyball leagues she joined at work. She encourages other teens to follow their dreams in sports.

“I think in Genoa alone there are more sports. I don’t think they had soccer when I was there. There are more opportunities for girls and boys … sports available all year round now. It was there when I was a kid but it wasn’t as prevalent. Even the summer leagues are intense (now).”

Today’s athletes are forced to start earlier and earlier to gain a competitive edge.

“My four-year-old godson plays hockey already. That’s a big sport for small kid,” she said.

The Pendeltons
Woodmore Wildcats

By Mark Griffin

It’s a good thing the Pendleton sisters of Woodmore High School fame weren’t born in the 1960s.

Their father, Woodmore girls track and field coach Mike Pendleton, has to feel a bit lucky as well. Had his three oldest daughters, Emily, Erin and Carly – all state discus champions – been born then they would not have been able to compete for state titles.

CarlyPendleton erin-pendleton
Carly Pendleton
(Woodmore/Ohio State)
Erin Pendleton

The Ohio High School Athletic Association didn’t start hosting state girls track and field meets until 1975, three years after Title XI became law. By comparison, the OHSAA began hosting boys state track and field championships in 1908, when Teddy Roosevelt was president.

Mike Pendleton got to coach his daughters to a combined seven state discus titles at Woodmore. He also got to send them off to Division I universities on athletic scholarships.

Emily, 23, was a thrower at Michigan who graduated in 2011 with a degree in programs and environment. She was a four-time state discus champion (2004-07) and still holds the all-time state record.

Erin, 21, a senior thrower at Michigan, was a two-time state discus champ (2008-09) who set the D-III state meet record in 2008.

Carly, 19, a sophomore at Ohio State, added state title No. 7 to the family medal count when she captured the D-III discus title. Her sister, Megan, 17, is a senior at Woodmore.

Asked how much money he would have had to fork over to UM and OSU annually had his daughters not received athletic scholarships, Mike Pendleton said, “about $170,000 a year, when they were there all together (in college) last year.

“How does a guy afford that?” he said. “If they did not do sports, I think they would have looked (for a school) elsewhere. It’s finances, and you have to look at numbers.”

Pendleton, who has been coaching his daughters since 2002, said he has noticed how much more competitive girls’ sports have become in just the last decade.

“If you look across the sports, not just track and field, it is extremely more competitive,” he said. “When I first started getting involved in sports with my daughters, in basketball you could be a significant player at 5-foot-9. Now, it’s 6-0, 6-1. Their diets have changed. They’re more up on it, where before it really didn’t matter.

“When I was in school (at Fremont Ross) in the 1970s, the longest distance a girl was allowed to run was a mile. They did not run the two-mile. They did not do the pole vault. If you ran the 880, you could not run the mile back then. The coaches and administration said it was too strenuous on the girls.”

Pendleton also pointed out that the level of coaching has changed women’s sports over the years, and that’s one reason we’re seeing better female athletes.

“Title XI has opened up girls’ (opportunities) in colleges, and what happens is they go back to their local schools after they graduate and become coaches,” Pendleton said. “Same with the guys. That’s why you’re seeing better athletes. I do believe Title XI has definitely helped women’s sports at the college level.

“Back in 1975, when I was at Bowling Green, they did not give letters for track. It was more of a club. At the same time, I don’t think Title XI has done the job it was meant for. On one hand it enhances the girls’ opportunities, but two years ago Ohio University cut their men’s track team and cross country team to save money. In my opinion, that’s not the right use for Title XI.”

Pendleton pointed out that BGSU also does not have a men’s track and field team, but they do have a women’s track squad. The school, in fact, offers 10 women’s varsity sports and only seven varsity sports for men.

“Realistically, a lot of men’s sports teams are being cut because (schools) don’t want to spend more money on women’s sports, so they’re cutting men’s sports,” Pendleton said. “If you look at universities and see the number of women’s sports, there are certainly a lot more opportunities for girls sports than even 10 years ago. There’s just a massive difference.”

Jamie Wonderly
Gibsonburg Golden Bears

By Jeff Norwalk
Press Contributing Writer

Ironically enough, Jamie Wonderly says that her favorite sport coming up as a gifted two-sport star at Gibsonburg High School was volleyball. That's scary, considering all that she accomplished as an intimidating pitcher for the Golden Bears softball program.

Jamie Wonderly
(Photo by Doug Hise)

Wonderly helped lead her team to three consecutive Division IV state titles between the years of 2001 and 2003. She garnered three all-state nominations, a perfect 26-0 from the mound as a junior and mowed down opposing batters via 393 strikeouts, third most in Ohio history.

Upon graduation in '03, Wonderly would go on to join the pitching staff of Butler University, notching 14 complete games, one shutout, and two saves for the Lady Bulldogs as a freshman, and 21 appearances, 11 starts, six complete games, and a respectable 5-5 record, with only one error defensively as a sophomore.

These days the Helena native still finds herself finding pleasure and a genuine joy in the game, through her gig as a pitching coach for promising young hurlers anywhere from 8-years-old, to high school age.

But, err Jamie. . .what gives with volleyball?

"I know it sounds weird given my past," shares Wonderly, who in addition to all of that softball swag, also brought home All-District 7 D-IV honorable mention honors from the volleyball court as a Lady Golden Bear senior, "but I just love the fast pace of the sport, and the constant intensity. I still play volleyball today with my husband and best friend, Chad Reno, who I've been happily married to since May '11. I can't imagine a time when sports would not have been such a normal part of my life."

Nope, sounds about right, Jamie. Sports as a springboard to developing into a champion in the greater arenas of life. Whether that arena be as a career woman at Sandusky County Job & Family Services, Heartbeat of Fremont, or within the old family business, Wonderly Carpet Care.

Or a mentor of future Lady Golden Bears, to whom she passionately passes on all of her wisdom and know-how, so they, too can one day go on to live well-rounded lives.

In Jamie’s own words: "Sports are an amazing way to explore your potential. I would tell all young ladies to at least give sports a try. You never know what you're going to realize you are really good at, or maybe you will learn that something is definitely not for you. Either way, any time you can learn something about yourself it is a good thing. Sports can give you the opportunity to do and be more than you ever thought you could, as long as you give full effort."   


Tricia Askins
Lake Flyers

By Jeff Norwalk
Press Contributing Writer

All it takes is a quick perusal of former Lake Flyer great Tricia Askins' prolific athletic resume, to see that she's indeed accomplished a lot on her chosen fields of play.

Lake softball coach and former
athlete Tricia Askins.

For instance, on the volleyball court, she roamed the backline as a formidable defensive specialist, on her way to earning three varsity letters and first-team All-Northern Lakes League and first-team all-district accolades during her senior season in '90. In basketball she earned four varsity letters; three first-team All-NLL nominations; an honorable-mention All-Ohio accolade following her senior year; and a still school-record of eight 3-pointers drilled in one game.

And well, let's face it, when it comes to prep softball Askins still ranks as one of the very best Lake and northwest Ohio have ever seen. Consider four more varsity letters; first-team All-NLL and first-team all-district accolades her sophomore, junior, and senior years; first-team all-state recognition her senior year; 16 school records; and a prestigious No. 2 ranking in the Ohio High School Athletic Association record books for 62 stolen bases in a single season for the former catcher. . .and it's a no-brainer as to why Askins went on to enjoy a productive career at Bowling Green State University, as well. At BGSU she became the first player in Lady Falcon softball history to be voted freshman player-of-the-year in '92, and was first-team All-Mid-American Conference and first-team all-region her senior year, with a MAC title and a trip to the college world series sandwiched in between. 

Yet, the things you won't likely read about on some shiny plaque, or even hear people talking about in the stands today, are the priceless life lessons Askins says she's learned from being involved in prep sports. Lessons like…the drive to do your best ("I'm sure if I hadn't played high school sports, I wouldn't have been a good student. I went to school looking forward to practices and games. It was my passion back then."). And the importance of giving back (after graduating from BG, she returned to LHS and coached volleyball, basketball, and softball from 1995-07). And the blessing of lifelong friends made via the field of play ("Sports taught me teamwork, social skills, and led me to meeting a lot of people. Sports have definitely provided a lot of social contacts and lifelong memories, and it's those memories and friendships I've enjoyed the most."). And oh, yes. . .that sports definitely tend to bring families together, forge an unshakable bond, and provide a common ground. Families. Where it all begins.
Still the backbone of American life.

In Askins’ own words: "My mother, Kathy, was an exceptional athlete. She has been my role model, pushed me, encouraged me along the way. Nowadays, I follow my two sons, Jared and Jacob Rettig, in their athletic endeavors. My oldest Jared is a sophomore at Lake. I think he has now broken every single QB record for his career at Lake. That will be cool when our names are up on the record boards together. Sports have been a very important part of my life, and I don't ever see that changing." 



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