It’s your game; it’s your national championship

Title IX, enacted in 1972, required equal opportunity for girls and women in high school and college athletics. In 1973, a young high school coach named Gary Blair started teaching and coaching in Dallas. Initially, he had hoped to become a football or baseball coach: instead, his first opportunity was to coach girls basketball: more specifically a new program (probably in light of Title IX).  When given the opportunity to move on to become an assistant in a high school football program, Blair turned the job down. Make no mistake: turning down football in Texas is, well, like turning down basketball in Indiana.

Perhaps it is more than fitting after a long road in high school and college coaching won his first national title in Indiana with his team from Texas A&M.  Blair took a 9th seeded Arkansas team to the Final Four in ’98.  Tonight, he finally received his ring.

The young women playing collegiate athletics didn’t live in a time when sport wasn’t open to them.  Gary Blair is one of the many teachers, coaches who took a chance and started coaching young women. He turned down the biggest sport in his home state to coach girls – back when that was an insult. His speech was gracious to Notre Dame. His humility is a lesson for everybody. His team gave him the greatest gift they could give their coach: a national title. In Indiana, in the stadium where Hoosiers was filmed, a team of unknown players delivered. It is the stuff movies are made of: tonight, it was magical. Tonight, a person who has given so much to the sport got something back. Tonight the good guy won. Congratulations Coach Blair; those of us who love the sport couldn’t be happier for you and the Aggies.  You reminded us why we love the sport.

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2 Responses to “It’s your game; it’s your national championship”

  1. thewaysobolseesit Says:

    Great post, I really enjoyed it. Especially the storytelling style you went with. In a day when women’s sports are falling back under scrutiny, nights like tonight seem to grasp a bit of hope for women. Where do you see women’s sports going from here? As a college student, and former college athlete, I can honestly say the general public opinion is that title IX has almost gone too far; beyond its intentions by unnecessarily eliminating otherwise happily run men’s programs, simply because there isn’t enough interest in a women’s program to counterbalance it. Thanks for your thoughts.

    • zebrastravels Says:

      Thanks. The balance it takes to manage both the academics of college and sports is one of the reasons (among many) that I prefer college athletics to professional sports. Where does it go from here? Hopefully, more TAMU’s win national titles, the dynasty breakdowns in basketball, volleyball, soccer, gymnastics. More women in roles in the AD offices. Currently two NCAA separate men’s and women’s athletic departments: Texas and Tennessee. I’m not sure that is the answer – but I’ll keep watching and celebrating when people like Gary Blair reach the top.

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