Professor’s new book shares stories of early leaders in women’s athletics

St. Olaf News

Professor’s new book shares stories of early leaders in women’s athletics

November 19, 2016

When Dorothy McIntyre was a young teacher at Eden Prairie High School during the 1960s, interscholastic sports didn’t exist for female students.

So McIntyre organized informal games in various sports between girls’ teams from neighboring high schools. Since they needed transportation, she asked the principal for permission to use a school bus. He refused. After much debate, he reasoned that the boys’ teams used the bus only because their coach drove it.

You can imagine what happened next. McIntyre called the head bus driver, whose daughters wanted to play competitive sports, and he taught her to drive a bus. A week later, she returned to the principal’s office with her bus driver’s license in hand. She and her students were soon on the road.

McIntyre’s story is one of eight featured in St. Olaf College Professor of Interdisciplinary Studies Diane LeBlanc’s new book, Playing for Equality: Oral Histories of Women Leaders in the Early Years of Title IX.

LeBlanc is the director of writing at St. Olaf, where she teaches first-year writing, women’s and gender studies, and American studies. The book, co-authored with St. Catherine University Professor Emerita of Exercise and Sport Sciences Allys Swanson, features the oral histories of female athletes, coaches, teachers, and administrators during the formative years of Title IX — the federal law that prohibits sex-based discrimination in all education programs and activities.

“The women featured in our book share a common impulse: when asked to lead, they led,” LeBlanc says. “Their courage is a reminder of how social change actually happens.”

With her new book hot off the press, LeBlanc answered a few questions about what sex-based discrimination women and girls often faced before Title IX and why understanding the history of Title IX is essential in applying it today.

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