(Kirk Meche / Special to the American Press)
Photo from a McNeese State softball game in 1981. (Special to the American Press)
Last Modified: Monday, October 15, 2012 11:11 AM
McNeese State University honored four decades of female athletes on Saturday during halftime ceremonies of its game against Central Arkansas.
More than 60 former female athletes were honored in celebration of the 40th anniversary of the passing of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, a law that states that no person in the United States can be excluded from participation in any education program or activity on the basis of sex; mandating that women’s athletic teams must be formed in any educational institution receiving federal financial assistance.
“When I played basketball at McNeese, we played because we loved it. We didn’t get scholarships for playing, but we were very appreciative of what we had, and the opportunity we had been given,” former McNeese basketball player Vicky Chapman McMillan said.
McMillan was honored as McNeese’s first female athlete inducted into the Hall of Fame, and went on to play professionally for the Women’s Professional Basketball League, which formed in the fall of 1978 and disbanded in the spring of 1981. McMillian was a player for the Houston Angels during the league’s first two seasons, and for the New Orleans Pride during its last.
“I played professionally, I did some coaching, and I was able to tour overseas with Athletes in Action. It opened up a lot of doors for me, and I think opportunities like that are great for women to be able to participate in. It’s also great to think that you can tell young women today that they are able to play sports if that’s what their dreams are,” McMillan said.
Fellow honoree Pam Lafosse, who also played basketball in the years after Title IX for McNeese and now serves as the school’s assistant sports information director, said that in her time on the job she has seen the landscape of women’s athletics at the university change drastically.
“We were second-rate to men’s sports when I played, though not necessarily in a bad way. Football is the largest moneymaking sport, and that’s just the way it is, we had to accept that. We were lucky to be able to play,” Lafosse said.
“We didn’t have as many opportunities as they do now. Working here I’ve seen women’s athletics change. When we used to travel to games, we rode in vans, now they charter busses. They have more people on their teams now, and are able to receive scholarships for playing. These new girls are appreciative of what they get, but if they only knew what we had to go through to play. We had to work for things, it’s different now.”