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What is Title IX: Kendall Coyne and Candace Parker talk about the fight for women’s equality in sport

CHICAGO – 50 years have passed since the adoption of Title IX, and 40% of all athletes are women despite continuing inequalities.

Now, the second generation – or Title IX grandchildren – understand their role in moving forward and learning more is still possible.

Born 20 years after Title IX, professional hockey player Kendall Coyne has never felt like he belonged on the ice.

“I was mostly surrounded by boys. I didn’t know there weren’t girls’ teams, I just felt like I belonged. I was on a hockey team, and it happened. thought there were no other girls there.” said Coyne.

Her sport peaked until 1998, when women’s hockey became an Olympic sport.

“I grew up wanting to play for the Blackhawks. It’s not realistic, but what is realistic,” Coyne said. “And then I saw Cammy Granado, that’s what I want to do. I want to play in the Olympics.”

RELATED: Title IX: Explaining the Landmark Civil Rights Act That Codified Gender Equity in Sports and Beyond

At the time, the Olympics were the pinnacle, but his career could not be contained by a medal podium. Coyne was the third overall pick in the inaugural National Women’s Hockey League.

She would later become the first and only woman to compete with the men in the NHL All-Star Skills Competition. It was an opportunity that opened doors for him as a Blackhawks development coach and television analyst.

“Without Title IX, I don’t think I’ll go to Northeastern University on a full scholarship to play hockey and get an education. Without Title IX, I don’t think that opportunity exists,” Coyne said. .

Chicago Sky forward Candace Parker cherishes the same opportunity as she recalls how starting out in the WNBA completely changed her life.

“I didn’t realize they weren’t letting women play professionally – it amazed me that they weren’t already,” Parker said. “I immediately went from wanting to be like Michael Jordan to wanting to be like Cynthia Cooper.”

RELATED: Title IX paved the way for historic first win for Sterling High girls’ basketball team

Parker is now that icon for the next generation, sharing her story in her recently released documentary, “37 Words.”

“I have a professional career. It’s all made possible by the legislature called Title IX,” Parker said in the documentary. “I hope people are able to realize how important this really is and it’s not something that’s been done. So we’ve done our job. It’s constantly evolving and it requires our conscious attention.”

Parker is coming off a championship with Sky and Coyne with a silver medal in Beijing. The two winning moments they cherish while acknowledging the still frustrating inequalities.

“Everyone knows more is possible – it can’t be enough. How can we take Title IX and push it further? How can we make sure this opportunity is fair? This opportunity for men and women – that it exists in the same space,” Coyne said.

“I think, in a way, we’re leaning on the shoulders of those who came before us. Fifty years later, we’re taking steps in the right direction, but we’re not happy with where it is. and what it needs to be,” Parker added.

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