Jaidan Comer
JRNM 151

Women’s opportunities in predominantly men’s activities have always been a heated topic, especially among citizens in America. These wide arrays of topics can include having a job or the right to vote, or it can even be as simple as wanting to play a sport.

It was just 50 years ago, in 1972 the government passed the Civil Rights law “Title IX,” which granted access for women across the country to play sports or pursue education without sexual discrimination.

This law opened up opportunities for women to make their sports activity into a career, no matter if they wanted to play the sport like Serena Williams or coach the sport like Cheryl Reeves.

Jim Powers, who coaches Cross Country at Lorain County Community College, was instrumental in creating a few female stars himself. He started coaching for LCCC in 2009. Since then, he has helped train two all-American runners, Hannah Cook and Gabrielle Post, and has led multiple successful cross country teams.

When asked if it’s harder to recruit women in sports, he said “it’s more difficult because we weren’t sure how many were coming out compared to the men’s.” This in turn would make it more of a challenge to pick up female athletes to fill an entire team at LCCC.

According to Women Sports Foundation in America, “before Title IX one in 27 women played sports.” Today that number is two in five.

Powers said that LCCC’s numbers for female athletes haven’t struggled, but have stayed the same. “We been able to maintain our sports room that we normally offer but we haven’t been able to bring in any new ones, so it’s pretty much the same.”

But if there is one sport that has had a yearly steady increase for women’s participation in high school, it’s volleyball. According to (NFHS), “In 1971 there was 17,952 participants, a number that’s grown to 452,808 in 2018.”

Powers agreed. “I would say volleyball definitely sees the most because the pipeline is so structured.” When asked about being a coach for women’s cross country, he explained, “It is fun developing the chemistry with each player and it’s essential because you’re traveling, eating and going on overnight trips together.”

He also reiterated that developing chemistry with players on the college level is different because of the work that needs to be done in a short period of time compared to high school.

Powers also said that he’s happy that in the major leagues there’s “more women assistant coaches and officials, but it needs to be normalized.” Still, as Powers and his staff continue to help female students become more prominent in sports, He is hoping that as times change more “options and avenues for women to continue participation in athletics.”

As more women are participating in sports at LCCC, Powers said there are a few challenges they face compared to men. This involves a certain attitude from society toward women that pressures females to stop playing sports at an older age for family, compared to the men where it’s encouraged by society.

“That’s the biggest hurdle,” said Powers, “If a woman really wants to keep playing a sport, she should have the same opportunities as the boys have.”