H⁠i⁠ghl⁠i⁠gh⁠t⁠⁠i⁠ng Female Colleg⁠i⁠a⁠t⁠e A⁠t⁠hle⁠t⁠es Who Made H⁠i⁠s⁠t⁠ory S⁠i⁠nce ⁠t⁠he Passage of T⁠i⁠⁠t⁠le IX

May 2, 2024

Kayla Maloney

CALN Project Manager

Person in Black Swimming Goggles in Water

President Biden recently made changes to Title IX, the pivotal law enacted by Nixon in 1972, which protected women from discrimination and provided recourse for sexual assault victims in higher education. 

Title IX has helped women pave their way through sports history for decades. One can argue that these changes made are an insult to their legacy, considering the fact that the girls who wish to follow in their footsteps cannot count on the same necessary protections that they had. 

So, as we buckle up for the implications that are sure to come, I’d like to take a moment to highlight some legendary female athletes who will not be forgotten by time nor overshadowed by male athletes under my watch. 

  1. Mia Hamm (Soccer): Little fun fact, when I was in 2nd grade, I wrote an essay about Mia. The assignment was to write about someone who inspired me to persevere, and she certainly sets one of the best examples in that department. Mia attended UNC Chapel Hill from 1989 to 1994, where she led her team to win four NCAA championships. She was awarded All American and ACC Player of the Year three times. From there, she played on the Women’s National Team (which she technically joined at age 15). She won two World Cup Championships, and was awarded FIFA Player of the Year twice. In her professional career, she scored 158 goals and had 144 assists. On FIFA’s 100 year anniversary list of the 125 greatest living soccer players, Mia was one of two women listed. Her former teammate, Michelle Akers, was the other. 
  1. Michelle Akers (Soccer): Michelle went to University of Central Florida from 1985-1989, where she was four-time All American and Central Florida Athlete of the Year in 1988 and 1989. She won the Hermann Trophy in 1988. She is a leading scorer for UCF, and when she graduated, her #10 jersey was retired. She played in two World Cup Championships and was named FEFA Female Player of the Century in 2002. She was one of two women (Mia Hamm being the other) recognized by FIFA as a greatest living soccer player.
  1. Natalie Coughlin (Swim): Natalie attended UC Berkley from 2001 to 2005, where she achieved an unbelievable record of winning all 61 of her meets. As she remained undefeated in her four years of college, she took home 12 NCAA titles and was named NCAA Swimmer of the Year three years in a row. She won five gold medals in the 2004 Olympics and six gold medals in the 2008 Olympics. 
  1. Jackie Joyner-Kersee (Basketball and Track): Jackie attended UCLA from 1980-1985, where she started as a forward for their women’s basketball team every year. She also ran track in college and for the US in the Olympics. She came out victorious in both 1984 and 1988. She was named the Top Woman Collegiate Athlete of the Past 25 years in 2001. 
  1. Natalie Williams (Volleyball and Basketball): Natalie attended UCLA from 1989-1992, where she unbelievably was allowed to play two demanding sports. She was a right-side hitter for the volleyball team, for which she made All American four times and was named National Player of the Year twice. She helped her volleyball team win two NCAA titles. She was also named All American twice for basketball, and was recognized Female Athlete of the Decade by Pac 10. 

There are so many more women who made history because of their raw talent, unbelievable dedication, and a little help from Title IX. You can read about twenty-five others by visiting this Sports Management article.