Title IX 40 for 40: Olivia Knotts
After coming off the bench in just seven games as a freshman,
Olivia Knotts was a key player for Cornell over
the next three years, playing in 42 games with 38 starts and
accumulating 68 points on 44 goals and 24 assists. She saved her
best season for last, posting 45 points on 30 goals and 15 assists
as a senior. Knotts graduated in May with degrees in Applied
Economics and Management and Science of Natural and Environmental
What impact has Title IX had on you/college athletics?
Knotts: Title IX has had an enormous impact on my athletic career. If it weren’t for Title IX I would not have had the numerous opportunities as a child to take part in different sports. The mom of one of my childhood friends had played lacrosse and began coaching a team, which led to my love of the sport and ultimately being able to continue my career at the Division 1 level. Without Title IX who knows if lacrosse would be a college sport or if there would have been as much opportunity for me to play the sport as a child.
How did Title IX help to change the perception of women in athletics?
Knotts: Before Title IX I believe that there was a perception that women were not as athletic or capable as men. When my mom was in high school, the only sports they had for women were cheerleading and volleyball. Since my mom is five-feet tall she decided that becoming a cheerleader would be the better choice. On the other hand my high school had several different sport options each season and was fully supported by the school, town and students. We were No. 1 in the country my senior year after having a undefeated season (26-0). None of that would have been possible without Title IX because people believed that women could be successful in athletics.
What has Title IX done for women outside of the sports realm?
Knotts: I believe that Title IX has not only helped women to excel in the sports world but also impacts our personal development. By playing sports at the Division 1 level I have learned what it is like to be a team player and thrive in a competitive environment. My work ethic, time management skills and ability to communicate have all been developed and improved because of sports. These skills, along with other life lessons I acquired from playing sports have helped me throughout my academic career and also in landing a job after graduation. For this I am very grateful!
Who was an influential woman in athletics to you and why?
Knotts: The most influential woman to me in athletics was my babysitter, Kelly Nash, who played basketball at Villanova. Kelly was the first person I knew that played a sport in college. Growing up around her I began to realize that maybe I could do the same thing one day if I worked hard enough. Neither of my parents played a sport in college so it was great for me to see how rewarding athletics could be and how important sports were in Kelly’s life.