The 50th anniversary celebration of Title IX kicked off with the official opening of the Nixon Library’s new exhibition, Evening the Odds: Women Leading the Way. Local Girl Scouts joined Secretary Barbara Franklin and three Team USA Olympic Gold Medalists in a ribbon cutting ceremony. The permanent exhibit in Loker Hall examines the lasting impact of President Nixon’s ratification of the landmark Title IX legislation while shedding new light on President Nixon’s role in ensuring women had more representation in his administration.
Continuing the commemoration, a special luncheon was held in the Library’s East Room. The program began with a fascinating conversation between former U.S. Commerce Secretary Barbara Franklin and historian Heath Hardage Lee about the Nixon administration’s work to recruit women into senior government positions, and the effects of that work on the creation of Title IX. When reflecting on the impact of IX, Secretary Franklin stated, “I think it was one of the most consequential legislative activities of the last century, I really do, in terms of helping equity and equality for women, but I think our society has benefited greatly.”
Next a panel convened with 3-time gold medalist Kerri Walsh Jennings, 4-time gold medalist Janet Evans, and 2-time gold medalist Courtney Mathewson. Jennifer Horn, co-host of AM 870’s “The Morning Answer,” moderated the discussion that was full of inspirational personal anecdotes of the direct impact of Title IX on their lives as well as the broader influence the landmark legislation continues to have on girls and women.
The 50th Anniversary of Title IX Commemoration continues on Saturday with a 5K run/walk. The video of the event and a complete transcript is included below.
Transcript of the Title IX 50th Anniversary Celebration
Jim: Well, good morning, everybody. And welcome to the Nixon Library. My name is Jim Byron, I’m the president and CEO of the Richard Nixon Foundation. Hello to all of you and welcome. This is an important day because today we celebrate 37 words that changed everything. And before I do that, it is my pleasure to introduce the honor guard from the Yorba Linda Girl Scouts and ask everyone to stand as they present the Colors and we sing our national anthem.
Woman 1: Honor Guard, attention. Girl Scout, attention, Honor Guard, advance. The pride that we have comes from people like you doing the things they know they must do. Dreaming the dreams all Americans do, dreams of peace and getting along, a storybook life that flows like a song. With a lifetime of mellow memories to share with all the people that have yet to dare ask us, “Just what’s in America to keep you there? No walls to hold you in, no laws to make you stay.” No, it’s a simple pride in the American way.
O say can you see, by the dawn’s early light,
What so proudly we hail’d at the twilight’s last gleaming,
Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight
O’er the ramparts we watch’d were so gallantly streaming?
And the rocket’s red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there,
O say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?
Woman 1: Honor Guard honor the Colors. Honor Guard, dismissed. Thank you, you may be seated.
Jim: Thank you and thank you to Kristen Romero. Wasn’t that beautiful? That was a great way to begin everything this morning. Thank you. It’s so nice to see you all here. As I said, today we celebrate 37 words that changed everything and the statistics are truly staggering. According to Nate Silver’s fivethirtyeight.com, in 1971, the year before Title IX’s passage, fewer than 300,000 girls participated in sports at the high school level in the United States. That was just 8% of the boys participating in sports at that time. In the 1966 to ’67 sports season, around 15,000 women participated in college sports at NCAA institutions, or about 10% of the participation number for men. It’s clear that women are underrepresented. That started to change quickly after Title IX went into effect.
Participation in girls’ high school sports rose by 178% in the first year of Title IX, and by an annual average of 101% year-over-year for the first six years that the law was in place. And in fact, boys’ participation also increased. Those numbers today, 3.4 million girls are playing sports. And among college athletes in the NCAA, 44% are women. So, I think that’s a record that certainly we can all be proud of. And we are represented today by three gold medal Olympians who you’ll be hearing from in a few minutes. We’re very pleased and honored to welcome Kerri Walsh Jennings, Janet Evans, and Courtney Mathewson, would you look please stand, ladies, and allow us to recognize you.
The two other distinguished ladies who I will now introduce will get into how all of this came about 50 years ago. This morning, it’s my pleasure to welcome the honorable Barbara Hackman Franklin. She served as the 29th U.S. Secretary of Commerce under President George H.W. Bush and was the second woman to hold that position. 20 years earlier, Secretary Franklin led the first governmental effort to recruit women into high-level government jobs as a staff assistant to President Nixon, an effort which resulted in nearly quadrupling the number of women in those positions. Her story is told in a book by Lee Stout, entitled “A Matter of Simple Justice: The Untold Story of Barbara Hackman Franklin and a Few Good Women,” and the Secretary will be available and signing copies of that book in the library’s gift shop immediately after this program.
She served on the boards of 14 public companies and was one of the first women graduates of the Harvard Business School. In fact, “Time” magazine named her one of the 50 women who made American political history. Secretary is joined this morning in conversation by Heath Hardage Lee, a historian, curator, and biographer, who is currently at work on the first commercial work on First Lady Pat Nixon to be published in nearly 40 years. She is the author of “The League of Wives: The Untold Story of the Women Who Took on the U.S. Government to Bring Their Husbands Home from Vietnam,” published by St. Martin’s Press in 2019. Would you please join me in welcoming Secretary Franklin and Heath Lee?
Heath: Hello. Lovely to be with you again here in sunny California. I’m gonna start with a few context-setting remarks about Title IX and then the Secretary and I are going to be in conversation about this hugely important legislation and her role in it. On February 6th, 1969, President Richard Nixon face the second press conference of his new administration. He fielded questions on a wide range of topics from marine pad with reporters. However, when the Washington bureau chief for the North American Newspaper Alliance, Vera Glaser got her turn, she asked him a question that no one had expected. “Mr. President, in staffing your administration, you have so far made about 200 high-level cabinet and other policy position appointments and only 3 have gone to women. Can you tell us, sir, whether we can expect more equitable recognition of women’s abilities, or are we going to remain a lost sex?”
Glaser’s question became part of the push that the new administration needed to prioritize women’s rights and gender equity. In response to Glaser’s query, the President’s Task Force on Women’s Rights and Responsibilities was rapidly organized. The completed task force report entitled “A Matter of Simple Justice” was sent to the President on December 12 of ’69. Chief among the report’s groundbreaking recommendations were that the Nixon administration set a broad legislative agenda to Congress for women. This would include a strong endorsement of the ERA, reforms in the enforcement of civil rights, and an end to gender discrimination in education, public accommodations, Fair Labor Standards, Social Security, and government rules.
Among the major action items in the task force report was this recommendation, “The President should appoint more women to positions of top responsibility in all branches of federal government to achieve a more equitable ratio of men and women.” Barbara Hackman Franklin, one of the first female graduates of Harvard Business School and a rising star in the banking world was appointed as staff assistant to the President in April of 1971. Within this role, Franklin would lead all efforts to fulfill the task force recommendation. Her work would prove critical to the success of the administration’s efforts for women. Thanks in large part to Franklin’s leadership and vision, the White House opened hundreds more federal jobs to women and expanded the number of women on Presidential Commissions and boards. Franklin built up a talent bank of women for top policymaking jobs across the government.
One of her first major efforts was to locate suitable female candidates for the Supreme Court. She also helped identify the first female generals, the first female admirals, qualified women for middle management ranks were also hired, the first female tugboat captains, forest rangers, sky marshals, and FBI agents, so cool, roles formerly closed to women that were now unlocked. One of the many ripple effects of the task force recommendations and Franklin’s work was a proposal of the landmark Education Amendments, primarily authored by Representative Patsy Mink and strongly supported by Representative Edith Green and Senator Birch Bayh. These amendments included the now-famous Title IX.
President Nixon signed these amendments into law on June 23rd, 1972, exactly 50 years ago today. When the final regulations were issued in 1975, Title IX covered women and girls, students and employees protecting them all from discrimination. This included sexual harassment, admissions policies, basically, every aspect of education K through 12 for any institution that receives federal funding. Today, Title IX is most often equated with women’s sports. But this was part of a much broader movement towards women’s rights and gender equity across the board that began with Vera Glaser’s question, the Presidential Task Force for women, and Barbara Hackman Franklin.
This potent push meant that equity for women went from an afterthought under previous administrations to high priority under President Nixon. To quote from Franklin herself, “President Nixon’s actions brought gender equality into the mainstream of American life. He made equality legitimate. This legitimacy rippled through our society and helped create new opportunities for women in business, in education, in the professions, in arts and athletics.” Today, we celebrate one of the most important outgrowths of this ripple effect for women’s rights with the 50th anniversary of the Title IX amendment.
Secretary Franklin: Very good.
Heath: Thank you. So now we’re gonna get into some questions. But before the Secretary and I start talking, we want to roll a little clip for you that will resonate with you, I think, after hearing the talk.
Vera: Mr. President, in staffing your administration, you have so far made about 200 high-level Cabinet and other policy positions, and of these only three have gone to women. Could you tell us, sir, whether we can expect a more equitable recognition of women’s abilities, or are we going to remain a lost sex?
President Nixon: Would you be interested in coming into the Government? Now, very seriously, I had not known that only three had gone to women, and I shall see to it that we correct that imbalance very promptly.
Secretary Franklin: That was good.
Heath: Well, so that’s a good place for us to start, I think, Secretary Franklin. Can you tell us a little more about Vera and her famous question?
Secretary Franklin: Well, I’d be delighted, and thank you, Heath. I just want everyone to know how thrilled I am to be here after 50 years and watching the progress that Title IX has meant to our society over all of that time. And I was thinking about it as I saw the young, tiny Girl Scouts up here and thinking how great the world is or how much better it is for them today in large measure to Title IX. Well, to answer the question, I came to know Vera quite well over the years. And I love this clip because here is this…a well-spoken woman, and she was, in a yellow blouse against the sea of dark suits. And I can imagine what a gas probably went through that briefing room. I think she really shocked everyone.
The President handled it perfectly, beautifully. And then after that, there was a lot of conversation…I was told about this, of course, in the White House about, “Oh, now what do we do? The President says he wants to do this? How do we do it?” And the Presidential Task Force on Women’s Rights and Responsibilities was one key outcome and there were…as Heath has mentioned, a couple of key recommendations in there. But let me back up a step. A man named Charlie Clapp was the staff person who had the job of filling the task force, deciding who would be on it. And as he has described it, there was a little bit of an internal tension.
There were those who wanted the status quo and then there were those in the staff who wanted, you know, “Let’s go for more equality.” Charlie won, and the people on that task force were people who wanted to move forward on equality. And that’s exactly what they did. This is a brilliant piece of work, I think, this taskforce report. And it has a bunch of recommendations that very far-reaching really, and laid out an agenda for the future. One had to do with more women in top jobs, yes. But then there are various legislative actions and you mentioned several of them and one of them definitely was Title IX. And the women in top jobs one, I was part of the solution or the answer to that recommendation.
Heath: Yes. Excellent. Well, we’ve talked a little bit and we’ll talk a little bit more about that Presidential Task Force on Women’s Rights and Responsibilities. Can you tell us a little bit more about that? Who exactly else was involved? And what kind of impact did the resulting report, “A Matter of Simple Justice” have?
Secretary Franklin: Well, okay, put up the names of the people who were on it. It’s a diverse group. If you look at it, it’s got a couple of men and there were also then women from different aspects of our lives. Vera was on it. I might add about Vera. She kept at this, writing stories about women and the progress. Since her question, she just kept going. And I digress for a minute. When I was appointed, she wrote a piece and she interviewed someone in New York who said that I was this little bit of a thing and I was a hard worker. And the headline on her article was that the White House has hired a pint-sized recruiter.
Heath: I read that, I remember it, yes.
Secretary Franklin: And we laugh about that for 50 years. Anyway, though, I think the bottom line of the task force report, it went to the President at the end of 1969, was released a few months later in 1970, there was a little battle inside the White House, I’m told, about how to release it and when and so on. And then it was a question of a countdown, “Here are these recommendations and what are we going to fulfill.” And I can tell you because I was there, the administration was trying very hard to do everything that was in that list. Now, true, and Heath mentioned this, Title IX was…and I guess Jim did too, was bipartisan and so were some of the other things. And that was an important…we were on Title IX today, but it was an important thing, I believe, that it was bipartisan.
Edith Green was having hearings on the Hill, kind of at the same time that this task force recommendation about the Title IX legislation was made. And then Patsy Mink was the other one who gets credit, her name is on it today, and Birch Bayh in the Senate, that those were Democrats and the Republicans in those houses went along too. But, you know, here we have Democratic Congress passing Title IX, signed by a Republican president, President Nixon, a beautiful example of bipartisanship and working together for the good of women and our whole society. I’m really proud that this happened the way it did. I would also say, at the time, I don’t think anyone realized the outcome and the impact. I think it was kind of…there were voices that worried about women in education, but I don’t think that the real impact, certainly not in athletics, I don’t think anybody foresaw that, but how wonderful it is that it happened.
Heath: How wonderful. And that’s true because “The New York Times” had but a sentence about this. It was seen at the time as, “Oh, well,” and then it becomes probably one of our most consequential domestic…
Secretary Franklin: I think it was one of the most consequential legislative activities of the last century, I really do, in terms of helping equity and equality for women, but I think our society has benefited greatly.
Heath: Agree completely. So, tell me a little more about how you came to work with President Nixon as his staff assistant to recruit more women into the upper mid-levels of government?
Secretary Franklin: Well, I was sitting at a bank in New York. And at that point, I was, what, nine years out of Penn State, seven years out of Harvard Business School. And I was a young…I was young once, assistant vice president. There were three…this is Citibank now, Citibank in New York. There were three women assistant vice presidents in the bank and there was no woman full vice president at that time. This would have been 1971. Well, I got a call one day from Fred Malek, who was a Harvard Business School classmate of mine. And I have to say parenthetically over here, I didn’t know Fred all that well. The men in our class, and there were like 650 of them and 12 women in that class, and they sort of knew us because we stuck out more than we knew them unless we were close to them.
Anyway, I did know Fred a little bit. So, Fred called me…by the way, it’s the same Fred Malek years later who raised the funds to renovate this library, I really want to say that, called me and said, “The president wants to bring more women into government and we need someone to come to the White House and set up this function. Would you be interested?” Well, that’s enough to sort of knock your socks off for the moment and I said, “I’d like to think about that.” And I did think about it and I talked to a lot of friends and they said, “Don’t do it,” they said, “Don’t do it, that administration won’t do anything for women.”
Now, I believed in the need to do something. I thought that was the right mission. I talked to my superiors at the bank, they thought it was fine. And I satisfied myself from Fred and others that this was a serious effort, the President really wanted to do this. And I decided to do it and I took a leave of absence from Citibank for six months. Now, that was kind of a joke. I was there for, what, two years in that job. I decided to do it, even though I knew it meant creating something that hadn’t existed before. This was the first time any administration was doing this. But I really felt that it was terribly important. And so, that’s how I came to be there.
Heath: So interesting. Well, so along those lines, your efforts on behalf of women during the Nixon administration were extremely successful. I don’t think that can be overstated. The numbers that I’ve found do not lie about that. What factors do you think contributed to this breakthrough for women? The time period? President Nixon? Tell us a little bit about those factors.
Secretary Franklin: Well, there were several things going on at once. I have to comment about this slide that’s up here, though. I’m in there. I don’t know if you can tell. You got to follow the hair back then.
Heath: The hair is fabulous.
Secretary Franklin: The hair was…Bobbie Kilberg is in that slide, who was on the White House staff and now on the board here, and Sallyanne Payton, who became a law professor at the University of Michigan was also a White House staffer. Anyway, there were a number of things that happened. The first thing was…and this is, I think, key to doing anything, there was a goal. The President set a goal and that was to double the number of women in the top policymaking jobs in a year. Now, at the same time, he sent to his Cabinet Secretaries and agency heads a memorandum that required them to give him an action plan about how they were going to advance women in their departments and agencies. And not just a plan, he wanted to know who was going to be in charge of that and he gave them a date, “I want this back in a month.”
Now, I have to tell you, that part of my job then was to monitor how they were doing. And this was an interesting business, we’d never done this before and they hadn’t and they had targets. And then because this was a serious…I call this a managerial effort, right out of Harvard Business School, it was managed, there was a goal, there was a process in place, and there was monitoring of results, and then there was a reward. In this case, the reward would be the Cabinet Secretary did a good job, and they were all men, of course, he would get a note from the President and that counted a lot. When the President of the United States wants something and people know he is paying attention, it really counts.
And then if a Cabinet Secretary didn’t do what he was supposed to do, he got another kind of a note. And I know that because I was the one drafting them and sending them upstairs. But all of that counted and I just think there were a lot of things that got going together and that it really made a difference. Now, I have to emphasize, a lot of people helped. I wasn’t doing everything alone, we never do everything all by ourselves. A lot of people help and it just paid off. The other thing I should probably say is that I had to figure out where jobs were coming open, which is not so simple, I have to tell you. It’s a big government. And that meant needing to build my own network of friends and allies who could tell me, give me a tip, when is something coming up here that I could find women candidates for?
So, I had to do that. And as I said, a lot of people help but those were my allies and I counted on those people. I have to say, at the time, if we go back in our society, not everybody thought this was a really good idea. Now, I don’t know how many of you here lived through that chapter but I can tell you for a fact. And if you look at just women in jobs then, it was nurses, teachers, secretaries, and, of course, a lot of women homemakers, but for women to be doing other things was a little bit unusual. And that’s a personal comment on my side, too, because I was an aberration. I was a woman MBA at a time when people would say, “Well, what can a woman MBA do?”
Heath: Right, they didn’t know what to do with you sometimes.
Secretary Franklin: I went on to say, “Just what a male MBA can do.” But, you know, there was just that kind of gender…whatever you want to call that. So, that was the context. And so, not everybody thought what President Nixon had set out to do was a great idea. But the point I want to come back to, a lot of people help, but the bottom line was that the President of the United States wanted this done and that was President Nixon. And I truly believe, having lived through that whole era, the breakthroughs that were made…and the majority of women that were appointed to these top jobs were women who would…I should say it the other way, jobs women had never held before. So, barriers were broken and they came down and they stay down. Now, that might have happened at some point. I do believe without the President’s wanting it to be done, it would not have happened then. And frankly, I’m really proud to have had something to do with it. And it wasn’t all me.
Heath: Well, it was definitely a priority under President Nixon and barely a thought or maybe an afterthought with the previous administration, so I applaud you for doing that. I think that is absolutely true for my research, which has been deep into this.
Secretary Franklin: Thank you, Heath.
Heath: So, tell us more about the talent bank that you created?
Secretary Franklin: Okay. Well, we had to find women to a point, you know? If I knew where jobs were, where was I going to get candidates from? So, what I did, first, I went to headhunting firms and ask whether they had women in their files. And typically, they said, “No, our clients don’t ask for women, so we don’t have any women on our files.” I thought, “Okay, thanks very much, I’m on my own here.” What I did was to go to each federal region, there were 10 at the time, a hub city in each region, and we had some contacts, typically, and would say, “Okay, tell me who are the outstanding women here? Just give me their contact information and we’ll do the rest. They didn’t even all have to be Republicans, just tell me who were the outstanding women.” And that’s how the talent bank was built. We got a flood of recommendations from lots of different people in places. The business and professional women’s clubs also had a talent bank and that was a great help too. But that’s how it was built.
And I think we have now started to find it in the President’s papers, it was in pieces, I wondered where that talent bank went after all of these years. We had them. I gotta tell you, we had them. We had Sandra Day O’Connor and I think we were the first to find her. She was prominent in Arizona. 10 years later, President Reagan appointed her to the Supreme Court. We had Juanita Kreps who President Carter appointed as the first woman Secretary of Commerce, and on and on like that. We really had…I’m proud of the folks who contributed to all that effort too, but it really helped. It meant I could go looking…if there was a job opening, I could go search the talent bank and see what kind of a match I could find for the qualifications for that job. That’s what we did. That’s what we did. I think they’re still doing this kind of thing now for government jobs and they should.
Heath: Yes, I think you were one of the first. Well, skipping along, tell us briefly the story of the Susan B. Anthony bust.
Secretary Franklin: Oh, you all know who Susan B. Anthony was, right? in the great suffragist? Well, it wouldn’t have been…oh, there she is. In the fall of ’72, some women’s groups came and said, “We would like to give a bust of Susan B. Anthony to the White House, we think it would be appropriate thing,” and I thought that was a great idea, so I said, “Fine.” And what they did was to have her made…she’s a copy of the marble one in the Capitol. She is in bronze, she was made in upstate New York, excuse me, and then they had her delivered to my office.
And we had to get a date to present to the White House…it would be to Mrs. Nixon, which also tells you something about the times, not to the President, but to Mrs. Nixon, that’s fine, and we’re gonna find a date. Between the time she was delivered and when we could get the date, she lived in the closet in my office in the third floor of the Eisenhower office building. And in the dead of night, sometimes she would steal out of that office, out of that closet, and go and land in the office of someone in the White House who said or done something detrimental to women.
Heath: Love it. Love it. So great.
Secretary Franklin: In the morning, I had to go pick her back up and she was heavy and put her back in the closet.
Heath: I’m not going to ask you to name names but I can…
Secretary Franklin: We don’t name names, you can use your imagination. But it was known that the spirit of Susan B. Anthony wandered about the White House at night.
Heath: Such a great story.
Secretary Franklin: In early 1973, she was presented to Mrs. Nixon and stood after that at the entrance of the East Wing, which is the First Lady’s Wing of the White House on a pedestal for a good decade, and then she disappeared. You know, they put her into storage in the White House. And I have to give Heath credit here. I told her this story and Heath decided that we needed to find her. And then she located Anita McBride who was First Lady Laura Bush’s chief of staff, and Anita knew how to find a curator to find wherever Susan was buried in the basement of the White House. And she’s now out of there and she’s here.
Heath: She’s here. Yes.
Secretary Franklin: She came either yesterday on the day.
Heath: She did.
Secretary Franklin: And so, thank you to Heath for making that.
Heath: My pleasure.
Secretary Franklin: And I got my own…I saw her yesterday. You can see her, she’s installed in…
Heath: Yes, she’s installed down in the permanent exhibit.
Secretary Franklin: And there she is and I was just so delighted to see her after 50 years. But it was a great symbol and I think she still is and now she’s here on loan, which is great.
Heath: We’re happy to have her back. Should we wrap things up here perhaps? And we are, of course, around to answer questions but Secretary Franklin is an American hero and she is a rock star. So, I would love to all of us to give her a hand.
Secretary Franklin: Thank you.
Jim: Thank you, Madam Secretary, and thank you, Heath. It’s an untold story and part of the history and we’re telling it now 50 years later. So, thank you for all that you have done and are continuing to do. Ladies and gentlemen, enjoy your lunches and our program will resume in about 10 minutes.
Secretary Franklin: Hello again. Hello again, I’m back. I’m back for just a moment or two. I hope you’re all enjoying your lunch and your table companions. Okay, it’s time to move on. And my happy task is to introduce the distinguished panel of golden medal Olympian women. Back in 2012 on the 40th anniversary of President Nixon’s signing of Title IX, Allen Barra wrote an op ed-in “The New York Times” titled, “Female Athletes, Thank Nixon.” And now on the 50th anniversary, I saw a column that said, “June 23rd, 1972, was one of the most important days in the history of sports.” I really agree with that. Title IX had only 37 words but those 37 words changed the history of sports in America, and even the history of America itself. And those 37 words have changed and are still changing lives today.
On our panel, you’re about to meet three extraordinary women, three Olympians who made history representing America, three champions who acknowledge and honor the part that Title IX has played in their careers and in their lives. The first one is Janet Evans, who won four gold medals in three Olympic Games. She broke seven World Records and won 17 international titles, 5 U.S. national titles, 5 World Championship titles, and 7 NCAA titles. As the headline in “The LA Times” put it, “Janet Evans didn’t just set swimming records, she obliterated them.” She’s in the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame and the International Swimming Hall of Fame. And currently, she’s a key leader planning for the Paralympic and Olympic Games in Los Angeles in 2028.
Kerri Walsh Jennings, who won four Olympic medals in five Olympic Games, three of them were gold, and I was sitting with her at lunch and I saw her in Athens in ’04 and Beijing in ’08. Those were gold. That was great. Her first Olympics were in Sydney in 2000 and in 2016, she won a bronze in Rio, quite something for a mother of three. And no wonder she’s called an Olympic icon. She also won three World Championship gold medals, 77 AVP tournaments, and 56 international events. On her Instagram page, she says, “When God sends rain, rain is my choice.” But as you’ll see, she well deserves her nickname, Six Feet of Sunshine.
Kerri: Thank you.
Secretary Franklin: And Courtney Mathewson, who won gold medals Olympic golds in Beijing in 2012 and Rio in 2016. Now, she grew up in Anaheim Hills and was an all-county water polo player at Canyon High School. In her senior year at UCLA, she won the Cutino Award known as the Heisman Trophy of collegiate water polo. Courtney and her family live in Anaheim Hills, and I’m happy to say that she and Chris aren’t strangers to the Nixon Library, they were married here. Her coach Adam Krikorian, that’s UCLA and women’s water polo team, describes her as the definition of competitive greatness. But she describes herself as a lover of Ducks hockey, family and friends, and good food.
Now, the panel will be moderated by Jennifer Horn, who is well-known throughout Los Angeles, Orange County, and the Inland Empire as co-host of AM…I’m sorry, AM 870’s “The Morning Answer.” And in fact, it was recently announced she will provide the answer every weekday morning through 2024. Jennifer calls herself a radio brat who started working for her dad’s show when he was in high school. She’s a voiceover artist and has worked on movies and commercials too. She volunteers for charities and political campaigns. And like Courtney, Jennifer is no stranger to the Nixon Library. We’re delighted to have her here to moderate this great panel. So, on this auspicious 50th-anniversary celebration of the day in June of 1972 that President Nixon signed Title IX into law, we’re so pleased to have them all here and welcome, Jennifer, Janet, Kerri, and Courtney to discuss Title IX.
Jennifer: Thank you. How about a big round of applause for Secretary Franklin? What an incredible woman. Thank you. And how much inspiration is in this room looking at these ladies today, looking at Secretary Franklin, and all of you? These are sources of inspiration for all the young women out there and it’s just such a pleasure to be here and hosting with all three of you. So, let’s start with you, Janet. Tell us about your path in finding your passion? Was this always…athletics and swimming, was this always what you wanted to do?
Janet: Sure. So, I grew up in Placentia, my dad’s veterinary office is on Yorba Linda Boulevard, so I am a Placentia/Yorba Linda, Fullerton girl. When my parents moved to Placentia in the late ’60s, my mom didn’t know how to swim. To this day, she still doesn’t know how to swim.
Jennifer: No lessons?
Janet: Yeah, no lessons. She grew up in Texas, no lessons, but we had a pool in our backyard. So, she told my dad she was taking my…after I was born, she was taking my brothers and I to the local YMCA up in Fullerton to learn how to swim. And I learned how to swim and I always wanted to beat the boys and that was my goal. I had two older brothers that picked on me and I wanted to beat them, it was the only way I could kind of get back at them. But I will say that, you know, being here with Secretary Franklin, I never knew a world where I couldn’t swim, right? I was never told, “You can’t do swim lessons at the YMCA,” or, “You can join the swim team at Placentia.” I was never told that. And it was remarkable as my mother who was not an athlete, who was raised in Texas, can’t swim, my parents pushed me right in and there were never any obstacles for me. And I was born in 1971.
Jennifer: Yeah. Title IX, I think all three of these ladies are products of Title IX, certainly. And Courtney, when you got started, how did you find water polo? Was it a passion immediately? Was it just something to do when you realized you were good at it? How did you find your passion?
Courtney: It’s actually pretty wild to me that I’m sitting here next to Janet because I started as a swimmer when I was younger and I had posted posters of her in summer up in my room. I started as a swimmer and I mainly loved it. And one day, we were at practice and I saw some kids playing this game I had no idea about, they were throwing a ball around, and I told my parents like, “I want to try that sport,” and it ended up being water polo and I loved it from the very beginning. It was fast-paced, it was co-ed, it was 10 and under so you got to play with the boys, and I really enjoyed that aspect of it as well and it just all sort of took off from there.
Jennifer: A lot of dedication that it takes. Kerri, how did you get involved with volleyball? A lot of early mornings, I’m guessing, right? Late days?
Kerri: We’re not swimmers’ early mornings. I’m no swimmer. You know, I fell in love with volleyball when I was 10 years old. I grew up in the Bay area and I have an older brother and two little sisters and my parents are both pretty intense athletes. My mother actually played two sports in college in Santa Clara. So, she was, like, one of the earliest beneficiaries of this. She played soccer and volleyball at Santa Clara University. And so, for me, I played every sport. Whatever was in season, that’s what I played. My brother and I are 11 months apart, and so I was just one of the boys and I love that so much.
But in the fifth grade at St. Mary’s in Los Gatos, volleyball was the first sport offered in the fall and it was all girls and I fell in love at the first moment. It was so fun to me, you know, all my best friends were playing, my mother was a coach, and it was just something so unique. And prior to finding volleyball, I was a very, very quiet child, like my brother would speak for me and I just was very introverted but volleyball really gave me a voice. So, I feel like when I found volleyball, I found myself and I don’t want to give you the, “A number of years later, I’m still playing,” but I’m still playing, still finding out who I am through sport, and it’s just been the most incredible gift.
Jennifer: You know, earlier this week, we all got together on a Zoom call. How many of you were wearing pants when we did that?
Jennifer: And on that call, Kerri, you said something that really stuck with me and I wrote it down. You said one of the things that you would like to see is more fun and more recreation. When you talk about volleyball, you light up. What would you like to see in sports now? What do you mean when you say you want to have more fun and recreation in the world of sports?
Kerri: Yeah, well, if you look at the kind of the environment of kids today, youth sports today, people are specializing when they’re 10. They’re literally picking their sport and their position in their sport when they’re super young, all fighting for a college scholarship, you know, when we all know the percentages of getting a college scholarship are very small. And so, for me, because of the stress and pressure of that, the joy has been lost in sports. And I think a lot of people…I think the numbers are, like, amazing that most athletes leave by the time they’re 13, you know? And so, I think we can really make the initiative to bring fun back into sports.
I think PE is a huge initiative that I know gets, you know, thrown to the side with budget issues and stuff. But I’m still playing because I love it so much. I’m not playing for the money, I’m not playing for the glory, I love representing my country, but I’m playing because I love it and because it tells me who I am. And I feel like kids need a reminder that sports are all about joy, they’re all about the team, you know, and figuring life out that way. And so, I think, you know, all of us would probably want our kids to grow up in that environment and I want to get behind that. You want to be playfully serious in life. That’s what Bruce Lee said. So, I think that’s a beautiful combination.
Jennifer: Courtney, just going off on the aspect of being part of a team. You know, unfortunately, politics and people…everything just gets politicized nowadays, how important was it for you as a representative of Team USA? Was that a moment for you to go out and celebrate the patriotism of this country? Throw politics aside, but just being a proud American and representing oversea? What was that like being part of Team USA?
Courtney: It’s just something that’s so special to be able to represent your country, no matter where you stand politically, to know that you have the opportunity to represent everybody on the world’s greatest stage. And not everyone agrees, that’s, like, the beautiful thing about where we live, it’s okay to have different opinions, what you stand for. But I think that when it comes time to Olympic year and all the excitement around them, around that year, there’s a lot of rallying from fans, from friends, family, random people who are just interested in watching you do your best and compete at the highest level. So, I felt like we had a ton of support. Specifically in 2012, I think the women’s teams did exceptionally well in London and I think there was a lot of excitement for us when we were competing, and when we came home, we were received very well.
Jennifer: Janet, you are an integral piece in bringing the Olympics to Los Angeles in 2028. Did you say, “You know, this is another job, I can work for the Olympic Committee?” Or was it important for you to find a home in the place, really, that you were born and raised to have highlighted as part of the upcoming Olympic Games?
Janet: It was the latter. So, in the summer of 2015, our chairman, Casey Wasserman who was involved in the sports world in LA, asked me to come on board and be a part of this organization that was bidding to host, at the time, the ’24 games. And what he said to me was, “We want to make these Olympics and Paralympics an incredible opportunity, not just to host another Olympic Games and a first Paralympic Games, but to change the way athletes are taken care of at the games, to change the way the athletes experience the Olympic and Paralympic Games, and then above and beyond that, to impact the fabric of society in Southern California.” I was a part of…or I wasn’t a part, I was a spectator at the 1984 games…and I’d already told Senator Franklin she’s coming to ’28.
But I was a spectator in ’84 and I remember the feeling of magic that was sprinkled over Southern California when games were here. And I think the opportunities we have now, we talk about youth sports, the International Olympic Committee in conjunction with our organizing committee have infused $160 million into youth sports in the city of Los Angeles. And so, we are now the stewards of this money and we are offering youth sports to all children in the Los Angeles area for free through the Parks and Rec. And so, when a child who was told they can’t compete in sports because their parents can’t afford it or maybe their parents don’t want them to and they see this as a roadblock, we can come in and say, “We’re actually offering you all of these sports for free.”
And we always think how can we, you know, find our next swimmer, volleyball player, water polo player, fencer, badminton player, all of these sports that these children haven’t been exposed to. And so, having the Olympic games come to Los Angeles is exciting for all of us because we will be spectators and we will enjoy it and we will be fans and we’ll have a great opportunity for the athletes. But we really feel like we can make a difference for everyone, and especially for our young people bringing the games home.
Jennifer: Absolutely, and that’s what it’s all about. And certainly, all three of you ladies played both at the collegiate level and certainly in the Olympics. So, I think all of us have to know what that standout moment was in your career. What was the moment where you realized you were at the pinnacle or just felt the best? Kerri, let’s start with you.
Kerri: Well, I’m still waiting for that moment, to be honest with you. But, you know, I’ll share with you the moment that I realized that I wanted to be an Olympian. I was a freshman at Stanford and the Olympics had just finished in 1996 and we had the opportunity to scrimmage against the team that had just competed in Atlanta. So, they came to Stanford, I was so nervous, heart racing, much like today, and we were playing and I literally could not put the ball down. Like, the whole match, I was just getting…these were women and I was, you know, like a toothpick and 18 and so nervous. But I got one ball down, I got one kill that whole match, which usually I would be devastated about. But instead of being devastated, I was like, “Oh, I can do this.” And that was literally the start of reframing my mind to be like, “I want to do this.” What’s after Stanford, a beautiful place to be? “I want to go to the Olympics.” And that was the start, so it was beautiful.
Jennifer: I love that. Courtney?
Courtney: I think it would probably be in 2016 when we were in Rio. We had won the first-ever gold medal for women’s water polo for Team USA in 2012. And that was a hill that the girls before us had been climbing and climbing and they had meddled in every Olympics leading up to that, but they had never won that elusive gold medal. And we won in 2012 and I felt like it was kind of just like a sigh of, “Okay, we did it, we finally met everyone else’s expectations.” And I decided to come back for one more go around. Everyone wasn’t really sure but I thought I had a taste of what’s at the top and it’d be nice to come back and compete for the chance to win again.
And we did quite well in the lead-up to the Olympics, we won World Championships, World League, we were pretty much winning everything and we were putting in all the time and effort and we felt very, very prepared. And I remember when we landed in Rio, I just had a smile and I knew we were going to win. And I am very…I think I’m quite reserved as a player compared to some of my other teammates, I don’t like to do the fist bumps, I just kind of put my head down and swim back. But I felt like at that moment extremely confident and we just destroyed everybody at the Rio Olympics. It was awesome.
Jennifer: No fist bump is necessary, you just got them. Janet?
Janet: Well, I think Courtney’s being humbled because, you know, women’s water polo went into the Olympic Games in 2000, right, in Sydney, which was a huge milestone for women in water polo. And I think being an aquatics person, have always followed them, and they are incredible. They win their match…you’re being too humble, they win their matches by like 15 goals, right? It’s just like…right? So, she’s been very humble. They are an incredible group of women, I’m a huge fan. So, my story came…my favorite part came at the end of my Olympic career when I was kind of done. And I think the two athletes here could tell you about the mental state of how it feels to be an Olympian, the pressures that we experienced. We make it look easy but emotionally, it’s very trying and very hard and we have lots of ups and downs.
And I would reckon to say that both Kerri and Courtney could tell you there were times in their career that they wondered why they were doing this, why they were getting up at 5:00 to go swimming or playing on the sand. And so, I was at my final games, and I’ve been asked by the chairman of the Atlanta Organizing Committee to run the torch a the opening ceremonies. And I had originally told him no because I was a swimmer, I don’t know how to run, I would fall, there were going to be a billion people watching and be like, “The stadium is on fire.” The whole thing. And so, what Billy Payne who was the chairman said to me, he said, “Janet, you will be the final woman and the second to last runner to carry the torch at the opening ceremonies.”
When I asked him why he had chosen me, he said, “Because you represent the Olympics and what the Olympics mean,” which is a champion, you know, someone who…it’s not always about winning, it’s about the whole thing. And I didn’t feel like that because I loved winning at the Olympics. And so, I didn’t really understand that piece, I was still very young. And so, I agreed to do this and they tell me the night before that it is going to be Muhammad Ali and they tell me because Ali in the rehearsal the night before had dropped the torch 12 out of 12 times, and so they were scared that when I got up there with him, he would drop the torch. And so, that’s the only reason I knew it was Ali, and once again, I didn’t understand the history of Muhammad Ali, I was still very young.
And I ran through the stadium and I just was worried about my legs and, like, I didn’t want to be bad in my 400 Free the next day because I didn’t want to be tired. And as I watched the Olympians kind of move with the torch and the looks on their faces and I got up to this big long ramp and Ali was standing there and, you know, he was shaking and he…you know, I know he had dropped the torch, he was really nervous. But the groundswell of the athletes and the groundswell of that stadium and chanting his name and passing it to him was my penultimate moment, I’d give up every medal to do it again because….and I’ll be quick. But what I realized was that, you know, we work so hard as athletes but we’re not always going to be Muhammad Ali taking the ring in the Thrilla in Manila, right?
We’re not always going to be Janet Evans beating the East Germans or Kerri Walsh winning her umpteenth medal or Courtney…you know, we are who we are and we’re doing the best we can at that given moment. And I think for Ali to stand there in the south, you know, in that moment, not who he used to be, very obviously, you know, ill, and everyone I talked to in that moment talks about what Ali doing that meant to each person. And so, for me, it kind of made me realize, I don’t know, we might not be who we were at one point in our lives but we have to keep going, we have to keep inspiring, and we have to keep doing the best that we can. So, that was my Olympic moment.
Jennifer: I love it, human moment. And, you know, when we watch all of you and this room has watched all of you…that’s creepy, but we watched you, you don’t realize the human nature of sports. There are setbacks, you brought up setbacks, but there’s also the winner mentality that you overcome those setbacks. What was the thing that you did? What would you rely on to overcome challenges that got in your way? I’ll start with you, Janet. Yeah.
Janet: I feel like I’m talking a lot.
Jennifer: We’ll work our way back.
Janet: Okay, good. I’ll be brief. My dad who had passed away a couple of years ago was a veterinarian right down at Yorba Linda Boulevard, I don’t know if any of you knew him but everyone loves…
Jennifer: Right there, she did.
Janet: Everyone loves Dr. Evans. Everyone loves Dr. Evans. And, you know, people come to his practice and say, “Oh, my gosh, you’re Janet Evans’ dad,” he says, “No, Janet Evans is my daughter,” right? But, you know, my mom didn’t know how to swim, my dad called swimming something you did when you fell off a boat, and I’d have a bad swim and I’d come home and I’d be upset and, you know, it’s all you want, right? And he’d be like, “Hey, Janet, the sun is gonna come up tomorrow morning and I’m still gonna love you and so is your mother.” And every time…and at Olympics when I didn’t swim well, he’d find his way down the deck and he’d be like, “I still love you and the sun is still gonna come up tomorrow.” And so, that’s kind of all he thinks, right? We try and try and try and try and sometimes your parents are still gonna love you and that’s really what matters.
Courtney: Yeah, to piggyback on what Janet said, of course, like, your family, your parents, your siblings, and that close support system that you have is hugely important to help you going when the times are tough because everyone’s going to be there when things are going great, everyone wants to be a part of it. But when things are not going great or you have injuries or setbacks or bad games, those people aren’t really there or if they are there, there may be criticizing why you wouldn’t do this or that. It’s like, “You get out there and you show me how you play water polo.”
But also, I had the privilege of playing on a team of 13 amazing women in 2012 and 2016 and then the countless other girls that train with us that didn’t end up making that final roster. So, when you’re from a bigger team, you have a lot of people who can support you, who can pick you up when you’re having bad days or a bad attitude. And I think that’s just the beauty of team sports and the privilege that it’s given me over the course of my whole entire career is all these wonderful relationships that I had, that I know are going to last way beyond water polo. And they have taught me so much as the person who I am, what I can withstand, and that’s just what I personally relied on when I was going through my journey.
Kerri: For me, it’s all been roses and sunshine. Kidding. You know, for me, I was raised in a family where faith is just every single day…my mom literally goes to church every single day, she does her walks and listens to the Rosary. So, when things get hard in my life, the recommendation is to double down on faith, to do my part but just know I’m held and that has always really helped me. And so, I feel like…it’s like what Ms. Franklin said with my quote, “When God says rain, rain is my choice,” I feel like every single thing in my life is here to serve me, the hard stuff, the good stuff.
I’ve had six shoulder surgeries, I was told repeatedly…a couple of times in my career that I would never play again, and every single time I had heard those things or went through those things, I was with my mother and my mother was like, “Babe, this is gonna make you so good.” You know? And so, that mentality that through challenges, there’s new strength, there’s new workarounds, there’s all these things, so that’s kind of how I live my life. And now with my kids, you know, compete and they fall flat on their face or if they fail, I’m like, “This is going to make you so good,” they’re like, “You’re crazy, Mom,” and I’m like, “But it will,” you know? So, I think that, you know, having lived that and now giving that to my kids feels really special and it feels right. My life experience tells me it’s true.
Jennifer: We are here celebrating Title IX today and certainly, we’d be remiss not to talk about the future of women’s sports. There’s a lot of people right now who may say that Title IX is under attack. Kerri, we’ll start with you. What do you think the future of women in sports? What does it look like? Is it a rosy picture?
Kerri: Oh, it’s as rosy as it gets as far as…I mean, look at this turnout. Thank you, guys, all for being here. I think that’s just…when people put action behind their priorities, amazing things happen. You know, yesterday I was in Maryland at a KPMG event after the LPGA and they just doubled the prize money from $4 million to $9 million. You know, a lot of people, a lot of companies are stepping up to support female initiatives and I think it’s so beautiful. For me, you know, something that…the Olympics didn’t necessarily change my life. The fact that Dick Ebersol and NBC put me on TV in primetime changed my life. And I feel like everyone on this panel, everyone here, you know, in the audience today, if we can get more women in the media, get women more presented in that fashion, that’s what changes things. That’s what shows these Girl Scouts, you know, there’s aspirations out there and that’s what changed my life and I think that would be my focus moving forward.
Courtney: For me, personally, I never thought that I wouldn’t play sports. We are so far past the time where women or little girls weren’t expected…or were expected to do other things. And from the very beginning, I knew I was going to go to school, I was going to play sports. And I think it’s great, it’s a testament to all the hard work that you guys have put in, the female fighters from the very beginning, and I think we can continue furthering that for our young next generation. I have two young girls and one of them just started splash ball last week, and I don’t think it’s going to be her sport but, I mean, who knows? She’s turning five soon but it’s so great that she has the opportunity, the chance to even try out and see if that’s a good fit for her. And I’m just so grateful that that path was paved, not only for me, but for my kids and hopefully for other kids moving forward, and I think we just need to do all we can to get behind the movement and support it.
Janet: And I’ll echo what Kerri and Courtney said…you know, it’s funny, we were talking before this, I have a 15-year-old daughter who’s a swimmer and I asked her yesterday what Title IX was and she didn’t know, so I made her research it as a good mother of a teenager. But, you know, to kind of piggyback on their responses, I think it’s important now that we were celebrating 50 years. Thank you to you, Secretary Franklin. My question is what’s next? So, what do we do now? And it’s what Courtney said, continuing to support our young people, but I think it’s intentionally creating spaces to give girls the opportunity to play sport on the sporting level, right?
So, intentionally allowing girls from lower socioeconomic, you know, places or girls of color or trans girls or whatever we want, the opportunity to play sport. I’m not talking being the next Kerri Walsh Jennings or the next Courtney Mathewson, I’m talking they just need to play, right? They need that opportunity, they need to learn sportsmanship and having teammates and how would it be coached and fortitude and how to lose and how to win. So, I think the next step is Title IX is creating those spaces to get girls those opportunities. There’s a statistic that the library here probably knows, but in a family that can only afford one athlete in their family of multiple kids, I think like the large percentage, they always choose the boy, always without fail, right? “We can afford to send one kid to sports camp, we’re sending our boy.” Let’s make it the girl, right? Let’s create those spaces so those girls can have the opportunity to play as well.
Jennifer: Courtney, if you were able to give…and I would ask you because I know you all have kids, if your kids came to you and said, “I want to be an Olympian,” with all the sacrifices that you’ve made…let’s start there just down the line, would you say, “Yes, I’m on board,” or, “Whoa, whoa, whoa, think about what you’re going to be giving up?” Courtney, what would you say?
Courtney: A hundred percent support. If that’s what they choose to do, if that’s what they want to…that’s how my parents were for me. I decided really late that I was going to try and join the national team and I was out of college. I was turning 22 that year, which is now at the Rio Olympics, I was 29 and my roommate was 17. So, it was a huge…the girls start younger now and just that’s how it is on the women’s water polo side. But my parents offered me that support and if my children want to take that path, then I will 100% support them.
Kerri: One hundred percent, absolutely. Yeah, I feel like if you love something, you’re willing to suffer for it, and I think we all have suffered on this stage because we love it so much. You know, so 100%, it’s worth all of it.
Janet: Yes, absolutely, my daughter swims, so I’m tired of getting up at 4:00 to take her to swim practice, though. But otherwise…
Jennifer: That’s the early morning you were talking about.
Janet: Yes, like, if we can do it without morning workouts, it would be much better but absolutely, yes.
Jennifer: You just got to move swimming to middays, you know?
Janet: I know. It’s her school.
Jennifer: So, that being said, then, what is the advice that you give your daughters and really, all young people who want to go down this path? There are some young people in this room right now who would probably like to hear some advice from you three. Should we start with you, Kerri? Go ahead.
Kerri: Gosh, there’s just so much. I read a lot of self-help books, which helps me along my way. But, you know, for me, it’s kind of what I just said, like, if something’s in your heart, I believe it’s your duty, I believe it’s your birthright to go and chase that. And if you want something, if you do it sincerely, it’s going to take you where you’re meant to be. Whether you fall short or whether you go the distance, sincerity, I think, is magical. And again, if it’s in your heart, you got to go for it. So, that’s my recommendation to myself, to everyone on the stage, to my baby girl, and to all of you for sure.
Courtney: I think hard work goes a long way. I think putting the time and effort in and really making the commitment and it’s a journey, whether you make it to the very end of the highest stage. But I would say put the time and effort in, work hard, and I think the results will come for you.
Jennifer: And Janet.
Janet: I would add to that balance in perspective, right? I think remembering at the end of the day, it’s still just a sport and, you know, to get your education and work hard and realize there’ll be bumps and failures, and the whole world is not going to revolve around your specific sport. So, just take it all in stride and take a deep breath and find the joy every day.
Jennifer: And to have the fun that we talked about, right? Well, we are going to give all of you an opportunity to ask some questions of these amazing women. And first, before we even get there, a big round of applause for them, for their time, and for their advice. And if you have a question, Chris is going to come to you right over there.
Chris: Yep, we have just a few quick questions. And what is yours?
Participant 1: You all are such an inspiration, you’re continuing to pave the way for our girls. I’d be remiss if I didn’t ask you to elaborate a little bit on biological men competing in women’s sports.
Janet: I’ll start? Let me start?
Kerri: Please. Absolutely.
Janet: So, I had the honor of writing an op-ed, it came out in “Newsweek” yesterday, if anyone wants to pick up “Newsweek,” and we talked about a lot of what we just talked about. So, I don’t know if you know FINA who is our governing body of aquatics, so Courtney and I sat under the FINA umbrella, just changed their rules, so a child that does not transition…male that does not transition by the age of 12 cannot compete in their competitions. This does not fall under the Olympics, it’s just for the FINA World Championship type of events.
But, you know, my response is what I just said, which is, I think every girl needs the opportunity to play sports. So, whether this child decides that she’s going to transition young, that girl still has the right to participate in sport. And I’m not talking about legislation, I’m not talking about where the NCAA stands or where FINA stands or where the IOC stands. I think every person has the right to play sports and I want to see those avenues open for them at that young age to experience what sport can give them, whatever they choose to be.
Chris: Thank you, Janet.
Kerri: I think for me, I just think you should probably compete in your biological category, absolutely. And I think we can absolutely create some safe spaces for all of the iterations of that. Absolutely.
Courtney: I’m along the same lines there with Kerri. I think we can create an avenue just like FINA talked about, eventually moving forward, at least specifically for aquatic sports, like, biologically compete by who you were born as or what gender you were born as and they were talking about creating another avenue for trans athletes to compete together, so there’s fairness and equality across the board for all those that are competing.
Chris: Thank you. Our next question.
Participant 2: Actually, two questions. Why don’t we have a separate category for transgenders, is the first question.
Janet: I didn’t hear it very well.
Jennifer: Was the question, why don’t we have another category for transgender?
Chris: Yes, correct.
Jennifer: I think that’s kind of what we touched on but anybody want to elaborate on that?
Courtney: I just think that’s the starting point with the FINA’s ruling and it should be interesting to see what follows from their ruling in respective sports and I think that might be something that’s an option moving forward.
Chris: I’d like to ask a question related to Title IX. Could the three of you touch on a particular hurdle or difficult time in your professional careers where maybe you didn’t realize it was Title IX affecting you but indeed, it was, where you thought to yourself, “That’s not fair?” And what did you do to navigate that?
Kerri: I have to be the Debbie downer here. I have no problems. Every single door has been open for me and it’s been incredible. I mean, like I said, my mother played college volleyball and soccer. You know, she was just…that was in 1973 or ’74, you know? So, since then, every door has been wide open for me and it’s been such a privilege, you know?
Courtney: The same for me, I don’t think I’ve known a world where I haven’t been able to compete or I have been at a disadvantage largely due to, you know, the work that was put in before we got the opportunity to play sports.
Janet: Same, and I’m the oldest one on this panel, so that says a lot.
Chris: Well, I think it’s fair to say thank you, Secretary Franklin, and thank you, President Richard Nixon.
Chris: We are pressed for time. We have time for one last question that’s going to come from Ikhwan.
Ikhwan: I just want to know who are the role models besides the sport?
Jennifer: Role models, ladies?
Janet: Besides athletes?
Kerri: I’m one of the ones who finds inspiration with everyone in this room for showing up. This morning, I got up very early and I saw this older gentleman running down the street and he had a limp but he was going for it and I got tears in my eyes. So, those are my inspirations, people who show up for life and are just determined to live it to the fullest, absolutely.
Courtney: As I mentioned earlier, my parents, my sister, Lauren, just a support system that I have been so fortunate to have ever since I was really little when I embarked on my sports journey.
Jennifer: How about you? The family?
Janet: For sure.
Jennifer: Absolutely. I like that. You know, obviously, you are all icons for people who are coming up, especially in the sports business, but it’s so important to see our everyday heroes as well. So, thank you, ladies, because you are those role models for women, for young people, and really, for all of us who have watched you. So, thank you all for what you do.
Kerri: Thank you, Jennifer. Thank you, all.
Jim: We got to do that again, that wasn’t enough applause. Come on. Let’s thank these amazing inspirational athletes on this important, very significant 50th anniversary. Thank you, ladies and gentlemen, for being here. And I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that Secretary Franklin is going to be signing copies of “A Matter of Simple Justice” in the Nixon Library’s gift shop where you’re all invited to go and meet her. Let’s thank our athletes and congratulations on 50 years of Title IX. Thank you all for being here.
Jennifer: Okay. All right, great job.