When Barb Young was a student at Marshfield in 1975, she was the only girl to run on the all-boys cross country team. By the time Young reached her senior year, she had started a full girls team. Young’s experience in the 1970s was unusual.
“There’s a saying, ’You can’t legislate morality.’ I completely disagree; I think we can, and we do, and Title IX is a perfect example of that because nobody questions that you girls can do sports, nobody. Boy, they questioned it back then,” Young said.
Title IX has limited discrimination against girls in extracurricular activities in Oregon high schools. Although it does not pertain directly to sports, it states “No person in the U.S. shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, or denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any activity receiving federal aid,” according to the Oregon Department of Education.
Assistant Principal Bryan Trendell said Title IX is very reasonable and recognizes the importance of maintaining compliance with it at Marshfield.
“I think girls should have the same opportunities as boys,” Trendell said.
Before the late 70s, the athletic opportunities between genders were not balanced. Female athletes were not granted the same recognition as their male peers and were excluded from receiving the “M” varsity letter.
“They did wonderful things for the guys, and we got what was left over,” Young said.
As a junior, Young practiced with the boys team and during meets she wore a volleyball uniform because a cross country uniform was not provided.
“I didn’t go out to make a statement. That was the furthest thing from my mind,” Young said. “I just loved to run.”
The boys who practiced with Young agreed she added a dimension to the team. Steve Noyd, a former peer and teammate of Young, was aware of the abilities girls had and thought they deserved equality. Their coach at the time, Phil Pursian, did not think it was right that girls were not awarded letters, so he personally got one for Young.
“It would’ve seemed weird if we all got together and only the guys got letters,” Noyd said.
Not all girls were as lucky as Young. Many female athletes did not receive their letters. Marshfield alumni Mary Paczesinak and Marilyn Wilson brought it to the school’s attention that these women still had not been acknowledged for their achievements.
“She [Paczesinak] felt like recognition was due to all of the women,” Wilson said.
After contacting the Athletic Director at the time, Greg Mulkey, Paczesinak wrote letters to over 160 female athletes who had not been awarded their letter. They were invited to attend a ceremony taking place during half time at a girls basketball game.
Marshfield swim coach Kathe McNutt was one of the women contacted. She said she enjoyed the ceremony and the efforts Paczesinak and Wilson put in to honor past athletes.
“Mary spear-headed the whole thing,” McNutt said.
As a result of Paczesinak and Wilson’s efforts, 34 women received varsity letters on Feb. 4, 2006, at Hoffine Court, where some of them played in the past.
“I know that these ladies truly appreciated what we did,” Mulkey said. “It was the right thing to do, and I’m glad we did it here at Marshfield High School.”