Title IX anniversary is special for the local teacher | News, Sports, Jobs
ELKINS – The 50th anniversary of Title IX in the United States means a lot to a local woman, not only because of the changes it has created over the years, but because she was at the forefront of the transition when it occurred locally.
Originally from Elkins, Kit Phillips was a student at West Virginia Tech University in 1972 when the monumental culture shift occurred. She was majoring in physical education, but before her freshman year, she had no sports team to compete on.
“There was no women’s sport at all before 1972”, Phillips told The Inter-Mountain. “I was a physical education major, so of course we learned to play different sports like field hockey, lacrosse and that kind of stuff. But there was no competition until Title IX passed (in 1972).
Title IX protects people from discrimination based on sex in education programs or activities that receive federal financial assistance. Title IX specifies:
“No person in the United States shall, on the basis of gender, be excluded from participation, denied benefits, or discriminated against in connection with any educational program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.”
Phillips said one teacher, and only one teacher, made women’s sports a reality at West Virginia Tech after the law was passed.
“We had a wonderful teacher named Carol Monroe, who became our coach,” Phillips said. “When Title IX was passed, she went to the college president and told him we were going to do women’s sports. He told her that was fine, but that she would not get any funding from the school. And she (Monroe) also ended up coaching all women’s sports at school – swimming, volleyball, softball and basketball. “
Phillips knew she would want to compete on the swim team because at Elkins at the YMCA she was allowed to compete in the pool and did well against both boys and girls. Eventually, she decided to dress for the college volleyball team and compete for both teams during her junior and senior years.
“I have to give credit to the YMCA, they were way ahead of their time,” Phillips said. “They started a swimming team in the late 1950s and it was mixed, where they let boys and girls compete. And that’s how I got into competitive swimming.
Because the college refused to help fund any of the women’s athletic teams at that time, each team had to find a way to get what they needed for competition, Phillips said.
“We didn’t receive any help from the college, although we were very successful”, she noted. “Some of the mothers had to make uniforms and I think the only thing that was ever bought was the bathing suits and we had to pay for them ourselves.
“We also sold donuts on the corner of Montgomery to try and raise money so we could go somewhere else. It was a struggle, but it was worth it as women’s sports finally caught on at Tech. If we hadn’t fought for it and started, it never would have happened.
While there is still room for improvement when it comes to the equal treatment of female athletes to male athletes, Phillips said she is pleased with the way women’s sport has developed over the past 50 years.
“Things are certainly better now than they were,” she says. “I’m so happy that there are professional women’s basketball teams, professional football and all that. And I’m happy that their football team (World Cup) finally got equal pay. If the title XI had not happened, nothing that is happening now would have ever happened.
During his two competitive years at West Virginia Tech, Phillips excelled in the pool, winning a conference championship as a junior and three titles as a senior. His title as a junior in 1972 was in the 50 meter backstroke. She clinched 50m honors again the following year and added championships in the 100m backstroke and 500m freestyle.
“It was the best moment of my life when I was able to compete,” Phillips said. “As female athletes, we wanted it so badly and when we finally got to do what we wanted, we wanted more and more. You don’t even have to think about it now, you can just go out and join a team. And that’s how it should have been all along. I feel like I helped Tech get it started there.
West Virginia Tech is now known as WVU Tech and currently offers seven women’s athletic programs and two co-ed athletic programs at the school. He is affiliated with the NAIA and competes in the River States and Appalachia athletic conferences.
After graduating from college, Phillips, who is a member of the West Virginia Tech Sports Hall of Fame, returned home to Elkins, where she served the past 34 years as a teacher. During this time, she taught physical education at Tygarts Valley High School, Elkins Junior High School, and Elkins High School.
While at EHS, Phillips pushed the school to start a swim team. In 2000, his wish was granted when the Tigers dived into the water for the first time. She then coached the boys’ and girls’ swim teams for the next seven years and was named North Central Athletic Conference Boys’ Coach of the Year in her final season as coach in 2007.
“I just coached for those seven years, but I loved being with those kids and starting the program,” Phillips said. “I have to say coaching has been one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done. It’s completely different from teaching because you get to know kids on a personal basis and when they’re successful, you succeed with them. It was just a great, great experience coaching.