NORFOLK, Va. — Since its inception on June 23rd, 1972, Title IX has provided life changing opportunities for female athletes. Those 37 words prohibited sex based discrimination in any school or educational program that receives federal funding. As a result, Old Dominion played a vital role blazing a path second to none for female athletes.
"It was one of the first colleges that provided scholarships for women and I'm so glad I had the opportunity to ride the wave," said four time WNBA all- star and ODU alum Ticha Penicheiro.
That opportunity wouldn't have been possible without influential people like athletic director, Dr. Jim Jarrett, who spearheaded the efforts that established the Monarchs as a powerhouse in women's basketball.
"I give Dr. Jarrett a lot of credit because he was so far ahead in terms of equality and making sure we had nice uniforms, correct practice times, how we traveled," said Lieberman. "He was very highly aware of how we felt and then we felt good about ourselves and then you saw the performance with the championships."
Old Dominion hosted the first women's national title game at Norfolk Scope Arena in 1982. The Monarchs won back to back national title games in 1979 and 1980 led by Lieberman and the late Anne Donovan under the guise of Hall of Fame coach Marianna Stanley. After one illustrious coaching career came another, when Wendy Larry took over and became one of the most successful coaches in NCAA history.
"I was fortunate that I was part of that beginning where young girls and women were having opportunity not just in sport but in education too," said Larry.
Over the course of her 30 plus years at Old Dominion, her teams reached 20 NCAA tournaments, 17 straight CAA titles- the longest such stretch in NCAA history, and advanced to the national championship game in 1997. There continues to be no shortage of impressive coaches leading the Monarchs as Los Angeles Sparks legend and two time Olympic gold medalist DeLisha Milton- Jones took over in 2020.
"Knowing that I'm playing for a university that has a rich history not just in the game but in the movement for rights for women, rights for equality within the sport that we play- it touches me in a special way," Milton- Jones said.
The result of Title IX was seismic as illustrated by Old Dominion's commitment to equality through the careers of these trailblazers. Although they've set the bar high for the next generation of young females athletes, they've also proven that the sky is the limit.