YARMOUTH — Janet Judge was a 10-year-old girl growing up in Potomac, Md., and she wanted to play baseball. But in the early 1970s, the only Little League teams around consisted of all boys.
“I was one of the first girls in Maryland to play baseball,’’ she said. “It wasn’t a big political statement. The coach of (a local team) was a father in the neighborhood, and we all played stickball.
“He saw me play and asked me if I wanted to play on his team. His son wasn’t too thrilled, but I was.’’
That season, she said, she was mostly intentionally walked, or hit by the pitch.
“For me, in my 10-year-old mind, that was awesome,’’ she said. “Then I got to get on base and I got to steal. I banned my parents from coming to the games because if they saw what was happening, they wouldn’t have let me play.’’
Judge attended Harvard University, where she was the goalkeeper on the soccer team. And now, as president of Sports Law Associates in North Yarmouth, she is one of the nation’s foremost Title IX authorities.
“I was fortunate,’’ said Judge. “I had tremendous opportunities when I was growing up. And that was also because I had a mother who thought sports was incredibly important.’’
She was born in 1962, 10 years before Title IX became law, the youngest of seven siblings in an athletic family.
“I’ve played sports my whole life,’’ she said. “It’s given me confidence. I got to attend Harvard. I got to play in the first NCAA women’s soccer tournament ever held. I’ve had tremendous opportunities all along the way.
“I think I’m just one of many girls and women across the country who not only benefited from it, but are also in the position to give back because of it.’’
Judge travels the nation, reviewing the programs of colleges and universities to determine if they are compliant with Title IX. She often speaks at NCAA functions, bringing colleges up to date on the latest issues involving Title IX or social media or sexual harassment.
In addition to educating schools about Title IX, she does NCAA enforcement, working with colleges and universities to get students reinstated, helping with strategic planning and negotiating coach’s contracts.
As the mother of two Greely High student-athletes – Kelsey and Emily Saunders – she now watches them play field hockey in the fall and run track in the winter and spring.
“What I’ve seen with my girls is that they’re proud to be athletes,’’ she said. “And that’s one of the biggest changes I’ve seen with Title IX. When I was younger, being a female athlete wasn’t always celebrated.
“I don’t see that in these kids. I love that. And that might be one of the biggest things to celebrate.’’