Sue Feamster at the University of Kentucky was an early – and still is – a loud voice for female athletes.
With two girls at home, both of them jocks, I got involved in the movement up to my ears. I coached both girls and boys in the Lyndon Recreation program for more than 20 years, culminating in a girls’ state softball championship in the Governor’s Games.
When my youngest girl was 5 years old, she wanted to play in the worst way.
The man who was in charge of the Lyndon program said, “We just don’t have enough girls who want to play,” so I signed her up in the Crescent Hill program.
The next year I was determined that my daughter was going to play at Lyndon, considering that I and a friend got the land for the Lyndon program. And another friend, Tony Craver, and I had spent an entire weekend painting the concession stand.
So I approached my friend who ran the program and told him that I didn’t want to cause any trouble, but that if he didn’t let my girl sign up I was going to sue.
He said, “Oh, we will open up tee-ball and softball to five and six year old girls. Two or three may sign up so we’ll just assign one of them to a team.”
So many girls signed up that we had to have separate boys’ and girls’ leagues.
At the same time, I hired the first two women sportswriters in the history of The Courier-Journal. Now just about all daily papers have female writers and editors.
When my oldest girl was at UK, she and some friends organized a club co-ed rugby team. They paid all of their own expenses. The only time I saw them play, UK met the University of Louisville at the Cardinals’ Shelbyville Road campus. It was a cold, cold day. Just before the game, all of the UK men ran to the other side of the field and turned their backs. A UK mother asked what they were doing. Someone said, “They’re (urinating), what do you think they are doing?”
Asked the mother, “Well, what are our girls supposed to do?” No one had an answer for that one.
My youngest daughter played varsity softball four years at Harvard. They played other Ivy League teams plus some other Eastern schools. No scholarships, but Harvard’s athletic department did pay travel expenses.
When the one at Harvard was growing up, she won a state tennis championship plus a Southern Indoor title. That, plus softball and a summer session at Radcliffe before her senior year in high school opened the door for her at Harvard.
I tell you all of this because you don’t have to let your daughters be treated as second-class citizens because of their sex.
When I was president of the Associated Press Sports Editors, a national organization, I invited a veteran of the women’s wars to speak to us. One of our guys asked her, “How can we get more female readers?”
Her reply: “You have (left) us out of your sports sections. Cover what we are doing and you will get us to read your papers.”