YEARS OF PLAYING BASKETBALL WITH HER FAMILY, Tina Slinker was pleased
when her high school in Portales, N.M., began a girls’ team to comply
with Title IX law. The law, requiring opportunities for female athletes
in proportion to male athletes in federally assisted education programs,
was passed in 1972.
was not prepared for disrespect.“In my school, girls were swimmers
or gymnasts, not basketball players,” says Slinker, head coach of
the UNT women’s basketball team and director of women’s athletics.
“The boys’ team was intimidated by us and didn’t want us playing
received little fan support. But that didn’t stop Slinker from eventually
becoming a women’s basketball coach. Now in her 12th season at UNT,
she has turned the Lady Eagles into a winning Division I-A team.
1998-99 season, the team had a 20-8 record, the finest in its history,
and was undefeated at home. Slinker was named Big West Conference
Coach of the Year.
team opened its season with a 9-2 record — its best start ever.
The Lady Eagles finished the season as co-champions of the Big West
Conference Eastern Division with the University of Nevada.
of the disrespect that Slinker experienced in high school, the team
received much media attention and fan support.
word in Title IX is progress, and we’re continuing to make progress,”
women athletes exposure, Title IX has helped many sports fans gain
appreciation for the teams.”
athletics at UNT did not begin with Title IX. The 1906 Cotton-Tail
yearbook featured women’s basketball and tennis teams. The teams
began playing other women’s teams regularly in 1913 and joined the
Texas Intercollegiate Athletic Association in 1921. In 1925, however,
the Board of Regents for all Texas teachers’ colleges banned women’s
Beulah Harriss, a coach and member of the North Texas physical education
faculty, formed the Women’s Athletic Association on campus to provide
female students with a way to play intramural sports and non-sanctioned
offers seven NCAA-sanctioned sports for women — basketball, golf,
soccer, swimming and diving, tennis, track and cross country, and
isn’t the only women’s team that has brought recognition to UNT.
Eagles soccer team had a 15-5-2 record for the 2000 season and finished
second in the Big West Conference. The Lady Eagles volleyball team
won a conference championship as recently as 1995.
players have made women’s athletics better at UNT and elsewhere,”
women have more opportunities at younger ages, and they play all
early years of equality
offered scholarships for women’s basketball, track and field, and
volleyball following Title IX.
Suttle (’79) received one of the first women’s basketball scholarships.
She finished her UNT career as a leading scorer and is now in the
UNT Athletic Hall of Fame.
North Texas for allowing me to play because the scholarship was
the only means I had for getting through college,” she says.
her team drew little attention.
we traveled to places like Texas Tech, which has always had a strong
women’s team, we played in a huge gym before maybe 20 fans,” she
improve much during the 1980s, says Isalene Jones Welch (’85), a
former forward who is a UNT Athletic Hall of Fame member. “
only family members and other athletes attended,” she says. “More
came when we had doubleheaders with the guys’ team. The newspapers
didn’t usually write about us.”
basketball guard Rosalyn Reades, Big West Conference leader in steals
last year, says the success of U.S. women’s basketball and softball
teams at the 1996 Summer Olympics and the rise of the Women’s National
Basketball Association and the U.S. Women’s soccer team were turning
points for women’s athletics.
have become more fast paced and more entertaining,” she says.
guard Ashley Norris (’99), ranked second in three-point goals last
see now that women can play just as well as men,” says Norris, who
now plays for the Oklahoma Flyers, a team of former college players.
most of UNT’s women athletes say they haven’t experienced disrespect
for playing their sports.
senior soccer forward, says soccer for both boys and girls was well
supported in her hometown of Midland.
guys say things to me that make me think they admire how I play,”
Stephenson, junior basketball guard, played both soccer and basketball
at her high school in Winchester, Tenn.
“I was taller
and bigger than most of the girls,” she says. “At one time, I wished
I was a cheerleader, but now I’m glad I wasn’t.”
Grimaldo, senior volleyball setter, says her team at Klein High
School in Spring “was looked upon as a good thing by the guys in
Britt Yoder is a pole vaulter on the track team — an event that
debuted for women at this year’s Summer Olympics in Australia. She
was voted “Most Athletic” by her classmates at Fort Worth’s Boswell
I wasn’t respected, I wouldn’t have quit athletics for anything,”
she says. “Some guys like it that you’re an athlete because you
carry yourself with confidence.”
carries over into the classroom. UNT’s female athletes had an average
cumulative GPA of 3.02 at the end of the spring semester. Some have
received academic honors.
a 4.0 GPA for Fall 1999 and was named to the GTE Academic All-District
VI University Division Women’s Basketball Team.
her master’s degree during her last season with the Lady Eagles.
current players are also in graduate school.
think anyone can characterize me as a dumb jock,” says volleyball
player Laura Gomez (’00), a master’s student in kinesiology.
athletes receive academic assistance through RAPTOR, a program in
the athletics department that includes two leadership development
courses and required study halls. The program also provides tutors.
female athletes say they must plan study time carefully to fit in
with their training schedules.
training for volleyball, soccer and basketball players includes
runs and weight sessions at 6 a.m. and practice twice a day. Practice
is once a day after the season starts but lasts all afternoon. Tennis,
golf and track team members, whose seasons last all year, are on
the court, course or track from 1:30 to 6 p.m.
member Rhatisha Scott, a sophomore marketing major, says, “Professors
don’t give us special privileges because we are athletes. I’ve had
to work just as hard as everybody else.”
Johnson, soccer midfielder, says the team usually returns from road
games Sunday evenings, but “sometimes we have flight delays and
don’t come back until 7 a.m. Monday.”
have to be in our 8 a.m. classes,” says Johnson, a general studies
golfer Melissa Mason regularly takes her homework with her to tournaments.
“I have even e-mailed my professor a paper from a hotel,” she says.
difficult sometimes because you get home from practice and you’re
exhausted, but you have to be adamant about studying right away,”
says senior tennis player Melissa Hodges.
athletes say their sports have also taught them to excel in other
the time management and goal setting skills she learned in basketball
in her job as coordinator of student services for the Canyon Independent
“I’m a firm
believer in the discipline that you learn in athletics,” she says.
volleyball provides social skills as well.
models. I’ve been all over the United States and met a lot of people,”
she says. “I’m planning to coach, so seeing how other teams interact
has benefited me.”
says the best thing about athletics is teamwork.
best feeling to work together and win at the buzzer,” she says.
“I’m always going to be involved in athletics. As long as my knees
hold up, I will play.”.