Title IX 40 for 40: Kelly McCallion
Kelly McCallion has known nothing but success
as a member of the Penn women’s lacrosse team. The Quakers
have won the Ivy League title each of her three years with the
squad, and in 2012 McCallion played in 11 games, starting one, and
set career-highs in points (five) and goals (four). Off the field,
McCallion is entering her third year as a student assistant in
Penn’s Athletic Communications Office and she is spending her
summer as an intern with Johnson & Johnson in New York City. On
top of her duties with the team and in the classroom, McCallion
will serve as president of Penn’s Student-Athlete Advisory
Committee (SAAC) in 2012-13.
What impact has Title IX had on you/college athletics?
McCallion: Title IX was a monumental amendment that will forever be remembered and enacted within the history of college athletics. I think that for many young women participating in college sports they do not know what it was like to have ever had limited equality in sports. Throughout my whole life I have been given opportunities to play sports. Even when I was in grade school I played lacrosse with my brothers in an all boys league. Sports have been an integral part of my life beginning at a young age. There is an aspect of sports that provides you with qualities and values that you cannot learn through any other medium. Sports teach you about respect, hard work, determination, dedication, strength, heart, passion, etc. And without Title IX I would not have learned the essence of the qualities. I would not have been molded into the person that I am today. Having the opportunity to wear a Penn Lacrosse uniform was a dream I set out to achieve simply because I knew that the opportunity was there for me. I will graduate in the spring because of the opportunity provided to me through the Title IX amendments.
How did Title IX help to change the perception of women
McCallion: Title IX has shown what developing the mind, body and the spirit can do for all athletes especially women. Title IX has shown that women are strong, intelligent and resilient. Title IX has shown that women are compassionate, organized, strong leaders and beautiful women who like to compete and work hard outside of business and home.
What has Title IX done for women outside of the sports realm?
McCallion: Outside of the sports realm title IX opened up the avenues of education for women. The old perception was that they existed to pursue a husband, and have children. Women were not thought of as having a desire to chase a dream or a career. Title IX gave women the equal opportunity for an education and for career opportunities. So instead of attending a college for a reason to facilitate male relationships, women were majoring in subjects that would direct them to a clear career path were they could thrive. In the aftermath of Title IX the graduation and retention rates among women are higher than that of males. Title IX has provided women with a safety net that they can support themselves rather than relying on someone else to earn money, and provide for them.
What more can be done to improve women’s athletics?
McCallion: I think that a problem that is always voiced among women’s coaches and administrators is the lack of funding in women’s athletics. At many colleges and universities males seem to give back more than females. In order to make improvements in women’s athletics, women have to give back more to their schools so that the programs can adapt to the ever-changing world of college sports. Women need to continue to support in more ways than they have in the past. Pioneers did not have the funding to give back, but today’s athletes are serving on boards, have powerful and influential positions in the business world and the endowments and contributions to women’s athletic programs would benefit both the female athletes and the women who give back. Fundraising and development relationships need to be reaffirmed in all institutions and all Women’s Athletic Departments to now financially build a foundation to support the next generations to come.
What effects will Title IX have for the younger generations?
McCallion: The effects of Title IX will continue to reverberate in generations to come. As more and more girls turn to sports and commit to new opportunities we will see equality continue to evolve. There are more and more girls achieving higher grades and greater athletic success than in previous generations. We will continue to see higher level educational institutions change their policies and their institutions to adapt to the growing numbers of females attending their schools.
Who was an influential woman in athletics to you and why?
McCallion: My mother, Maribeth McCallion has been the most influential woman to me in athletics. My mother was a tremendous athlete, she played basketball for Philadelphia University and is still the all-time assist leader. My mother is also an incredible coach. She has been my mentor in athletics ever since I could remember; she has taught me what it takes to go after your dreams. She has taught me about leadership, work ethic, respect, commitment, heart, and determination. More importantly she has taught me that sports are bigger than yourself. Sports bring people together, you play because you share a common love and passion for the game, and that fire lights the path for success in any season. I think it is difficult to imagine myself being involved in sports without my mother’s support, influence and involvement. So thanks mom.
Do you feel that equal opportunity in intercollegiate
McCallion: I believe that we are past the initiation stage and the beginning stages of equality. Now we need to build upon the foundations, which have firmly been laid. Female athletes who are successful need to continue to give back to their institutions so that development and endowments can be made for the future of those institutions. I believe that we are seeing a significant increase in the level of equality in intercollegiate athletics across the board, but it is not yet equal. Morally, everyone is making an effort, as more and more men who become fathers see the need for female equality for their daughters, the equality gap will begin to narrow even further.
What can be done to strengthen Title IX?
McCallion: To strengthen Title IX, there needs to be an increase in the number of female pioneers who will take on leadership positions in all academic arenas. This leadership will promote the female athletes talents while promoting them as future leaders in medicine, engineering, sciences, law, business and many other areas where leadership and commitment intertwine with success. Women are now seen as greater contributors to society and as these leadership positions have changed so to should the leadership in athletic departments and coaching positions should change.
What is the biggest challenge to women in
McCallion: The biggest challenge would be the respect that women deserve these opportunities as much as men. Financial stability is the largest challenge. Increasing middle school sports programs in the struggling economy is essential as this is where self-esteem and the love of sports begin for so many young women. Role modeling and peer mentoring for women to continue to realize their potential regardless of circumstances is important to address in the early high school years. Affording High School counselors with the knowledge of collegiate athletics and the opportunities that exist throughout the United States so that more women are empowered to persevere and pursue their dreams. To support other female athletes at the collegiate level so there is a great support system for all women. More media exposure, more professional teams and a greater number of Olympic athletes are a few more of the challenges I see for the future of females in sports.
Who is someone you view as a pioneer in women's athletics and why?
McCallion: Pioneers to me were the grandmothers, aunts and the sisters who played when no one cared, who paved the way for all of us to want to enjoy sports. The women who volunteered years ago and wanted nothing in return except for to see the love of the sport continue are pioneers to me. On a national level pioneers like Pat Summit, who has achieved so much as a female leader. Cathy Rush a Philadelphia local who challenge the system and gave women the opportunity to reach their dreams. She also began many area camps where kids could play basketball all day long. Former female lacrosse stars whom continue to this day to make sure the right changes are made to the game as it becomes more popular, keeping the art of the game and the integrity of the game where it needs to be. To all the women who continue to give back in what ever capacity to strengthen and build the future of all women sports. Ellen Ryan, another local female star who has led and paved the way for other local Philadelphia athletes.
What is the biggest change Title IX had on the Ivy League?
McCallion: It has allowed women to achieve their dreams. Many see Title IX as a sports issue only but there is a moral and ethical challenge here to all of us to allow everyone the opportunities to develop as humans. Including single mothers, the poor, he handicapped. It is not just a sports related mandate. These changes can be seen on all Ivy League campuses and that commitment to women makes me proud to be a student at the University of Pennsylvania.
Athletically there are many All-Americans from within the Ivy League in various sports. This acknowledgement proves that women are noticed for their abilities and their progress. Women continue to be measured for their dedication, contributions and success in the classroom and outside of the classroom. The faculty and staff within the Ivy League changed to include more females, thus role modeling to the students that women are making progress. The facilities at all the Ivy League schools had to be reconfigured to allow for the increase in the number of female athletes and female sports teams, as well as the living spaces.