Joanne P. McCallie has often called herself a “Title IX baby.’’ Born in 1965, seven years before the anti-discrimination statute became law, McCallie grew up in Brunswick in an era when she didn’t know anything but acceptance.
“I grew up believing that support and fairness were a standard way of living,’’ said McCallie, now the head women’s basketball coach at Duke University, consistently one of the best programs in the country.
She grew up running track and playing soccer, softball and basketball, always seeing the good side of sports. While in high school, she said, the support of the community was overwhelming at times. The school would pull out both sides of bleachers for the girls’ basketball games, only one side for the boys.
“Title IX,’’ said McCallie, “gave me a sense of belonging. And that’s an important concept. It allowed me to believe I was valuable and that there was equality for girls in sports.’’
McCallie graduated from Brunswick High in 1983 and went to play Division I basketball at Northwestern, where she first began to study gender equity. Soon after graduating, she began her career as a women’s college basketball coach, first at the University of Maine, then Michigan State and now Duke.
She is regarded as one of the nation’s finest coaches and recently published a book, “Choice Not Chance,’’ that provides life lessons for young women – or young men, for that matter.
One of the biggest changes she’s seen is in salaries. When she started as a head coach at UMaine, she made about $40,000 a year. “That’s less than what my assistant coaches make now,’’ she said.
As a coach, she looks at Title IX in a different light. She fights to make sure her players get the same opportunities as their male counterparts. But she doesn’t ask for things simply because a male team has it.
“You do have to be careful,’’ she said. “I’ve always asked because of the principle that it was the right thing to do, not because the guys have it.’’