Tuesday, March 11, 2014
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Janet Judge, below, a sports law attorney from North Yarmouth, is regarded by many as one of the nation’s foremost experts on Title IX. Above: Judge, at age 10 in 1972, was one of the first girls to play Little League baseball in her native Maryland. That season, she was mostly intentionally walked or hit by the pitch.
Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer
In Maine, 7.5 percent of the state's high schools fall into that category -- in the worst-ranked state, Georgia, 71.6 percent of high schools do.
The rise isn't as dramatic at the NCAA level, but it is still significant, according to statistics from the Women's Sports Foundation: from 29,977 females competing in 1972, to 186,460 in the 2009-10 school year -- a 522 percent increase.
A YARMOUTH GRADUATE'S EDUCATION
Title IX certainly opened the eyes of a young Yarmouth High School graduate named Julia Greenleaf back in 2000, when she was a member of the Connecticut College women's rowing team.
Frustrated and upset at what they perceived was the poor treatment of the women's program by the school's administration, the rowers refused to practice, then covered the school logo on their jerseys with duct tape during competitions.
They staged a sit-in and presented a list of demands -- among them, the hiring of a qualified coach for the women's team. In the end, they were victorious.
Greenleaf, who wrote the letters of protest and demands to the school's board of trustees, found her calling because of that event. Now married, Julia Pitney is an attorney with the firm Drummond & Drummond in Portland, specializing in employment law and discrimination cases.
"That event made me decide I wanted to go into law," she said. "It made me see that I had some knack for advocacy. And being a lawyer is about being an advocate."
JUDGE: IT'S ABOUT EQUAL OPPORTUNITY
Judge, the nationally renowned Title IX lawyer, was in Boston last week. Before that, it was Virginia, then Idaho, Spokane, Wash., and Georgia. When people have a question about Title IX, they go to her.
"There's nobody better than her in the country," said Steve Abbott, the athletic director at the University of Maine.
Maybe that's because her entire life has seemingly revolved around Title IX.
Growing up in Potomac, Md., she was the only girl on the Little League baseball team known as the Hustlers. Once she hit high school, she tried out for the boys' cross country team. She made it, and then was the subject of some heated discussions: What to do about her?
"Their solution was to set up cones on the soccer field every day and let me run by myself," she said. "And so ... separate but equal."
That was in the early 1970s, soon after Title IX passed. Following high school, she went on to play soccer at Harvard University. Her career path eventually led her to law, and to Title IX.
Now colleges across the nation ask her to audit their programs. She represents 15 colleges, working not only on Title IX compliance but also on other issues such as NCAA enforcement and strategic planning. Currently, she is representing four schools in open Title IX compliance investigations.
At its essence, she said, Title IX is simply about providing the same educational opportunities to both males and females.
An offshoot of that is that Title IX has proven sports does matter.
"The crux of Title IX is simple: Educational institutions that receive federal funding should treat boys and girls, men and women, fairly, or give the money back," she said. "Schools that comply have seen all of their athletes thrive. Participation in sports teaches valuable life lessons for male and female competitors.
"Successful athletes want the ball, don't blame their teammates, understand the value of teamwork, show up every day, practice to get better, bounce back from loss and celebrate personal and team victories. Title IX helps to ensure those experiences are available to our sons and our daughters equitably. That's pretty significant."
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click image to enlarge
The women’s crew team at Connecticut College put tape over the school insignia on their uniforms in 2000 to protest what they considered unfair treatment. Portland employment law attorney Julia Pitney, then Julia Greenleaf, is fifth from left.
Courtesy Julia Pitney