The advent of Title IX (Title Nine) Funding has been a breath of fresh air for any female athlete looking to go to college. Before, 40 years ago, there was little hope for a female athlete to continue playing sports beyond high school.
Before the WNBA took center stage on ESPN the celebration of Title IX was on full display as the Phoenix Mercury and Los Angeles Sparks both wore "IX" on the front of their jerseys. The team also welcomed Hope Solo, Ann Meyers Drysdale, and Laurel Richie to the Valley of the Sun for the festivities.
Trailblazers like Ann Meyers Drysdale worked hard as the first female athlete to make an NBA roster. She didn't make the final roster for the Indiana Pacers, but she made a profound impact on women's sports forever with that moment.
Her impact and the impact of many others allowed Hope Solo to have a college career. Title IX gave the Washington high school star a chance to play at the college level locally for the Washington Huskies.
Title IX has had a major impact on Hope:
Now going forward Hope is an ambassador for women athletes everywhere. She knows the struggle to gain respect and an audience after playing in two professional leagues that did not succeed.
Her success and story are going to have a profound impact on women's sports for years to come, like Ann Meyers.
As Hope stated numerous times talking to us, she never planned on being a role model. She was motivated by her father and brothers to be an athlete, not the likes of Ann Meyers and other women before her. She is a great spokeswomen for Title IX and women everywhere as she speaks her mind. Hope knows the struggle she has gone through and continues to go through as a women athlete.
Another league that has fought, scratched, and clawed for respect and success is the WNBA. The league has been alive for 16 years now, but it has not been easy or just handed to them.
New (13 months on the job) WNBA President Laurel Richie has been tasked with continuing the success of the league.
In the midst of a season that has an Olympic break in the middle of July and a barrage of superstar injuries the league is still going strong with great new stars and teams. It is a struggle for the WNBA with obvious competition from the NBA. It has been a struggle since 1996 when the league debuted.
The WNBA - and women athletes in all sports - continue to fight the uphill battle of respect and admiration. It is a battle worth fighting. As the WNBA says, "Expect Great," and that encompasses not only women basketball players, but women athletes in all sports now and going forward.