“Private schools pride themselves in having fields and making sure all of those things are provided for a quality education,” said Green. “But look at the school buildings in urban areas – do they have a gym? Are the bathrooms clean? And transportation? Is there a late bus home for students?”
Ahgelique Davis, who coaches the girls’ lacrosse team at Northeast High School in Philadelphia, Pa., said the team has grown from three to nearly 30 players in three years – but not without a struggle.
“For every field that we have, which is a good field, schools in the suburbs have three or four brand new fields,” Davis said of the school, which has a large minority population. “But they also have the room and the space. We have buildings, concrete. So it’s about geography as well as economic resources.”
Minority students who do stick with sports won’t find many coaches who resemble them. Only 13.9 percent of female head coaches are women of color, according to the most recent data from the NCAA.
“A young woman needs to see that she too can become a head coach,” said Vivian Stringer, head coach of the Rutgers women’s basketball team. “She needs to understand the importance of continuing her career that she loves, playing or participating.”
The number of females who coach women’s teams — regardless of race — is the lowest it’s been in history at 39.5 percent, down from 90 percent in 1972.
Part of the reason for this, said Green, is because after Title IX, women’s sports became more popular and the competition to coach women’s sports grew fierce.
“There are decent salaries at Division 1 schools, so coaching became attractive to men,” she said. “Women started competing against men for the jobs and oftentimes, men are assumed to be better coaches.”
Four decades after Title IX, the fight for equality continues. Billie Jean King, former professional tennis player and winner of 12 Grand Slam singles titles, says the Title IX anniversary is a call to action for younger generations.
“It is their turn to shape the future,” she said. “I’ve tried to help women more because we’re the ones who have been undeserved.”
Skylar Diggins credits her coach, Muffet McGraw with helping her develop not only as a player but also as a person. Diggins already feels responsible to serve as role model for younger female athletes.
“I thank the pioneers and the trailblazers, said Diggins. “Now I’m setting an example for the ones behind me.”