The 40th Anniversary of Title IX: Dale Ann Meeker

March 13, 2012

Laramie, Wyo. - Over the next several months, the University of Wyoming Athletics Department will be featuring a series of interviews with former and current UW student-athletes and coaches who have been affected by and benefitted from Title IX.

This year marks the 40th anniversary of Title IX, the landmark legislation that was enacted in 1972 and applies to all educational institutions that receive federal funding. Title IX was written into law to provide equal opportunities for all genders in regard to educational programs and activities at all levels, including but not limited to elementary schools, secondary schools and colleges and universities. Athletic programs are just one area that are considered educational programs or activities.

Title IX was passed in 1972 as part of the Educational Amendments to the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Title IX simply states, "No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance."

We hope that fans will enjoy this series on University of Wyoming student-athletes and coaches who will share their views on the benefits and impact of Title IX.

Dale Ann Meeker - Cowgirl Basketball Letterwinner 1977-79
Dale Ann Meeker always knew women's athletics was right for her, and Title IX played an integral role in her career and gave her the opportunities to excel. Meeker graduated from Powell High School in 1975 and was then awarded the first Women's Basketball scholarship to the University of Wyoming. During her years at UW, Meeker was a part of one of the best Cowgirl teams in UW history. Meeker and her team from the 1978-1979 season posted a 25-7 record and earned Cowgirl Basketball's first postseason tournament appearance in the 1979 AIAW Regional Tournament. That team was inducted into the UW Hall of Fame four years ago, joining their coach Margie McDonald.

After her years at UW, Meeker became the Powell High School Varsity Girls Basketball coach for 15 years, and coached a total of 21 years at other levels of basketball. During her coaching career, she was a one-time State Coach of the Year and four-time Conference Coach of the Year. She retired from the head basketball position at Powell High School in 2003. Meeker later was inducted into the Powell High School Hall of Fame in 2011. She is currently in her 29th year of teaching middle school PE at Powell Middle School, and is in her 30th year of coaching. She still coaches middle school track.

You were the first woman to receive a women's basketball scholarship at UW, what did that mean to you?

Dale Ann: I was honored to receive the first scholarship for Women's Basketball at the University of Wyoming. Women's sports were beginning to blossom and people were starting to take notice. Doors were opening for young women and barriers started to come down. Coach Margie McDonald traveled to Powell, Wyo., to recruit me. I am eternally grateful to her for believing in me. I felt like a pioneer in unchartered waters. I also feel a great responsibility to be an advocate for young women. The University of Wyoming provided an avenue for me and others like me to continue in athletics, receive financial compensation and reap all the life lessons that athletic competition teaches us.

What were the changes you noticed as a player after Title IX and further on in your career as a coach?

Dale Ann: I remember just being "excited" about the opportunities. I really never did dwell on the "equal" part of things, but just tried to be appreciative of the movement forward for women athletes. I will always remember being "allowed" in the men's training room for the first time. There were just so many firsts. Still many things had to be ironed out and the mentality that women came second was still there. Gradually, year by year, it got better. At UW, the progressive thinkers that I was aware of and appreciative of were Women's Athletic Director, Mary Ellen Cloninger, and Women's Basketball Coach, Margie McDonald. They fought for us...taking steps to promote our programs. Our fellow athletes (both men and women), the Laramie Boomerang, the UW school paper, as well as our professors and the student body promoted our success and started to get excited about Cowgirl Basketball. Powell High School was also a place where there were positive things going on before many other schools in Wyoming embraced girls' athletics. Some individuals who were instrumental in that were Keith Bloom (athletic director), Ron Laird (men's bball coach and later AD), and Steve Bailey (my long-time assistant coach).

When I got into the coaching end of things, girls' athletics just grew each year. For instance, the girls (when I played in high school) got to practice in the main gym only once a week. When I returned as a coach, the boys would practice one night in the main gym followed by the girls and then the next night it would be reversed. We both had nice uniforms (whereas when I was in high school we were given a uniform top that first year and we bought our own shorts).

Did you notice a difference in the decision making in the next generation regarding women's athletics?

Dale Ann: Absolutely, there was a lot of effort to try to make things "equal". There were still those individuals who fought the idea, but the conflict was getting less and less each year. I always wish upon "male chauvinists" a talented daughter. Somehow they seem to come around when they have a different perspective.

Do you think there can be any improvement to Title IX?

Dale Ann: I think there is always room for improvement in everything we do, as well as in Title IX. We have come a long way, but there are still things that need changed.

Did Title IX have positive feedback when it came to recruiting?

Dale Ann: It made young women feel worthy. Women were putting in just as much time training and it was rewarding to know that you could receive financial compensation for your efforts. It also allowed girls to attend universities that they might not have gotten to otherwise.

How did the exposure of women's athletics change after Title IX?

Dale Ann: The local, state and national press promoted and reported on the results of the women's competitions. They began to run side stories and more human interest stories about the female athletes. People were more aware of the opportunities that existed for young women and people liked learning about what was going on in women's sports.

Did Title IX have any effect on your career choices? What about your educational choice?

Dale Ann: Yes and no. I always knew I wanted to be a coach and that I wanted to share with young girls the valuable lessons I had learned through athletics. I think even if Title IX hadn't existed I would have pursued this career choice. Title IX did get me to UW. The opportunity to compete there sealed my ticket to Laramie. I do appreciate all the opportunities that Title IX has afforded me. There have been many positive events in my life that are due to the implementation of Title IX. I will be forever grateful and appreciative to those that had the courage to make change.

Archived Stories:Margie McDonald