Because of Title IX: Nona Richardson

Senior Associate Athletics Director for Student-Athlete Support Services/Senior Woman Administrator, University of Utah

Finish this sentence: “Because of Title IX..."

I have had opportunities as an athlete, coach, and administrator to do what I love and am passionate about.

How have the athletic and academic opportunities afforded to you because of Title IX impacted your life? Can you imagine your life without them?

If it weren’t for Title IX, I would not be in the position that I am today: an administrator at a Power 5 institution. Upon graduation from high school, I headed to Michigan State University as a walk-on volleyball player. During that same time, there were female athletes in the department who sued for the same rights as the men. This was my first exposure to the rights that we had through Title IX. That fight allowed for more athletic scholarships for the female athletes, which I benefited from. I went from a walk-on to a scholarship athlete, which afforded me the opportunity to not only compete, but to get my education.

Tell us about a woman who championed you in pursuing your goals. How did her influence inspire or affect you and your career?

My first real exposure to volleyball came through my physical education class in high school. The teacher (Mary Ann Kinnaird) was also the volleyball coach. She talked me into trying out for the team as a junior. I made the team, sat the bench, learned the sport, battled with the coach, but in the end, it has led me to where I am today and am grateful for that. The impact she had also led me to name a scholarship in her name at my high school.

Dr. Nell Jackson, was the assistant director of athletics for women and the women’s track and field coach at Michigan State University while I was a student-athlete there. She pioneered the women’s programs and fought for our rights during a time that did not offer them. Being a female, person of color, and collegiate administrator were anomalies during her time, but it also showed me that I could do and be the same.

How are you continuing to champion the next generation of women and girls in sports, and raise awareness on the importance Title IX?

The perceptions of athletes in the past few generations are that what they have is what has been had, and [they] don’t realize that they are benefiting from those who have fought a courageous fight and are still fighting. I continue to expose through educations, action, and stories of the good ole days. It is ironic that when you are in it, you don’t always realize that it is unjust, because you just want the opportunity and sometimes you give a lot, for a little.

If you could send an empowering tweet to every woman and girl across the country, what would you send?


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