Former National I-Club Interns Weigh in on Title IX Anniversary

Title IX is the landmark 1972 legislation that bans sex discrimination in schools, both in academics or athletics. The passing of Title IX ushered in an explosion of opportunity for women in sport across the country, and at the University of Iowa. This year marks the 40th anniversary of Title IX.

The University of Iowa boasts as one of its own one of today’s most prominent speakers, experts and proponents of Title IX legislation in former Director of Athletics Dr. Christine Grant. We also have countless successful businesswomen, philanthropists, coaches, mothers, and community leaders who participated in sports at Iowa s a result of Dr. Grant's work and Title IX implementation. Some of their stories are available on our website

There are also stories of student-athletes who are still benefiting from Title IX-created opportunities today. Three such women worked as interns for the National I-Club in recent years.

Katie Brown is one of the most decorated softball players in Iowa high school history. A Spirit Lake native, she was a two time Class 3A Player and Pitcher of the Year, a four time all state selection and led her team to the state tournament four times, winning the title in 2004. She went on to accomplish greater feats on an even bigger stage – playing softball in the Big Ten Conference, at the University of Iowa. Katie finished her career honored as an All-Big Ten performer, a team captain and led the team in multiple statistics throughout her career. Katie now serves as a graduate assistant coach for the softball program at Nebraska, having earned her undergraduate degree in Elementary Education. She is pursuing her passion for teaching the game of softball along with pursuing her master’s degree at NE.

Brown, reflecting on the 40 year anniversary of Title IX, "Growing up in Iowa, all I wanted to do was be a Hawkeye and wear the black and gold for Gayle Blevins. It was a dream come true to represent the state of Iowa. Coach Blevins was, and remains, the epitome of what Title IX is all about; not only what she did for the game of softball - but for women in athletics. Her drive, vision and absolute belief in equality gave me the opportunity to turn my dream into a reality." 

Kelsey Cermak came to the University of Iowa after a highly decorated career at Norwalk High School, including earning all state honors three times in basketball. She graduated from the University of Iowa in 2011 with a degree in Communication Studies, after a successful, but somewhat injury-plagued career with the women’s basketball team. She is remembered for her versatility – she played almost every position for the black and gold during her tenure. Voted a two-time team captain at Iowa, Kelsey also volunteered extensively in the community throughout her career, including mentoring and reading to local kids on a weekly basis, and coaching a local 5th grade girls basketball team. After a successful internship with the NCAA in Indianapolis, Kelsey recently accepted a full time position at the NCAA, as Coordinator of Women’s Basketball. She will be involved in the planning and execution of the Division I, II and III NCAA Women’s Basketball Championships.


Cermak, on her thoughts about Title IX “As a young athlete, one of the first goals I ever set for myself was to one day wear the Iowa Hawkeye uniform.  I wanted to represent my home state and be a part of the Iowa women’s basketball legacy. The opportunity Coach Bluder gave me turned out to be much bigger than what I had anticipated. I was surrounded by four strong and determined coaches in Coach Bluder, Coach Jensen, Coach Fitzgerald and Coach Gage. These four women taught me, and my teammates, the importance of Title IX and reminded us to continue to build upon the foundation that other women before us - such as Dr. Christine Grant, had created.My Iowa experience prepared me for my career at the NCAA.  I continue to be surrounded by passionate women who motivate me, support me, challenge me and inspire me. I am very thankful for the opportunity to work in collegiate athletics because I understand first-hand the impact that sport can have on a young person’s life.”

Abby Emmert has not strayed too far from her University of Iowa ties. After graduating in 2008 with a degree in Communication Studies and working at the United Way of East Central Iowa, Abby was hired by Coach Lisa Bluder to take over as Director of Basketball Operations for the women’s program. Now entering her fourth season, she is a veteran of the ins and outs of Big Ten basketball from an administrative standpoint, having already experienced it as a point guard and former team captain. Abby was a decorated high school athlete at Winterset High School, earning multiple all-state and all-conference accolades. Recruited by other college programs, Abby knew from a young age that she wanted to be a Hawkeye.

“The opportunity to play basketball at the University of Iowa provided me with experiences that stretch far beyond the court. Among those experiences was the chance to learn about Title IX from one of its greatest advocates - Dr. Christine Grant. Although my teammates and I were fortunate to grow up with many opportunities in sport, it was important for us to know and understand the fight for gender equity that was waged on our behalf. Lisa Bluder and her staff continue to carry the torch, ensuring equal opportunities for young women who seek to live out their dreams as Iowa Hawkeyes.”

Head Iowa Women’s Basketball Coach Lisa Bluder says that the fight is not over, in terms of Title IX’s mission, “I am of the generation that likely benefitted the most from Title IX. I was in high school in the late 70’s when this law was beginning to be enforced, thus I saw some of those benefits. I was among the first classes to earn a scholarship to play basketball in college. As a former athlete, and now as a coach for over two decades, I have seen enormous growth in regard to participation in sport by girls and women. It is frustrating to me that there is still not full compliance with the law, but again vast improvements have been made. I think it is important for young women to know the reason for Title IX and the benefits that have come from the law, but they also need to know that the fight is not over. I don’t want them to become complacent until there is one hundred percent compliance with this law”.

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