By Sue Darling
         Women’s Basketball Team Head CoachSue Darling

I was 12 years old in 1972 when Title IX was enacted. Up until that point (and ever since), my life has been sports.

As a young girl, I grew up in a neighborhood surrounded by sisters, brothers and other children of similar age. We all had two things in common, a love of sports along with moms who demanded we, “go out and play and don’t come home until dinner time.”

We would play neighborhood games of football, soccer, dodge ball, kickball, baseball, and everybody’s favorite, basketball.

My opportunities in the neighborhood games abounded, but as I approached junior high and high school age my opportunities outside the neighborhood dwindled. My brother and the other boys from the neighborhood were running off to Little League, sports camps, school-sponsored practices and games. I would go watch but couldn’t join in.

Finally, in 1975, my junior high school sponsored a girl’s basketball team. We had one practice and played one game against the rival junior high. I was in heaven!

By the time I got to high school, there were opportunities to compete in many sports, and I took full advantage.

I obviously wouldn’t be where I am today without sports. Teamwork, dedication, persistence, self-confidence, optimism and hard work are some of the character traits developed through sports. They have served me well.

My celebration of the 2015 National Girls and Women in Sports Day is an appreciation. An appreciation of the women who came before me, who didn’t have the opportunity, but still fought for my opportunity to play. And an appreciation for the moms and dads who saw the importance of sports in a child’s life (and in our society) and demanded the opportunities afforded their sons be available to their daughters.

National Girls and Women in Sports Day activities begin at 3 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 31, at the Walkup Skydome, recognizing the importance of athletics in the lives of young people.