Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Equipment Saunders-Nordeen and justice for ladies’ sports activities
UW-Madison’s first director of girls’s athletics turns 80 right this moment.
A outstanding story about women’ highschool sports activities in Teaneck, New Jersey was revealed in the New York Times on Sept. 23, two days earlier than the eightieth birthday of a Madison lady who got here out of Teaneck and helped modified the panorama of girls’s athletics in america.
The Occasions’ story particulars how, in 1972, a Teaneck Excessive Faculty sophomore named Abbe Seldin, a gifted tennis participant, wished to check out for the boys’ crew as a result of Teaneck had no women’ tennis crew.
Seldin was not allowed to check out.
Her mom, by the ACLU, employed a lawyer who filed a lawsuit in opposition to faculty officers and state companies in New Jersey. The lawyer was a younger Rutgers College regulation professor and ACLU volunteer named Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Right now, in Madison, Equipment Saunders-Nordeen turned 80 years outdated. She is ailing with Alzheimer’s and dwelling Oakwood Village, a Madison retirement neighborhood. A member of the family was planning to deliver cupcakes and decorations to Oakwood to mark the event.
I’ve been engaged on a guide about Equipment, who in 1974 grew to become the primary director of girls’s athletics at UW-Madison.
The Occasions’ story about Abbe Seldin and Ruth Bader Ginsburg resonated with me as a result of Equipment grew up in Teaneck, additionally desperately eager to play sports activities. There was nearly no alternative.
Equipment graduated from Teaneck Excessive Faculty in 1958 – a number of years earlier than Seldin attended. The college’s yearbook, The Hello-Method, described the yr in women’ sports activities with this: “There have been quite a few inter-school play days.”
Teaneck did have a women’ discipline hockey crew, and on “sports activities days” participated with different colleges – although they blended gamers from completely different colleges collectively to fill out crew rosters.
In an interview, Equipment stated, “I keep in mind in highschool being so dissatisfied after we practiced to seek out out we needed to cut up our crew as a result of we weren’t presupposed to have that aggressive faculty spirit.”
Equipment got here to UW-Madison in 1964 to review for a grasp’s diploma. She finally earned a doctorate. I wrote earlier this yr about the numerous women at UW-Madison within the Nineteen Sixties who went on to distinguished careers in athletics administration, together with Judith Candy, the primary feminine president of the NCAA.
Equipment’s personal profession included being named UW-Madison’s first director of girls’s athletics in 1974 and constructing, with the assistance of colleagues equivalent to Paula Bonner and Tamara Flarup, a first-rate program. Equipment was additionally nationwide vice-president of the Affiliation for Intercollegiate Athletics for Girls – the preeminent girls’s school sports activities group within the Seventies.
Many individuals wrongly assume that with the passage of Title IX laws in 1972, girls’s athletics attained equal footing on school campuses. It didn’t. There have been court docket challenges and male directors by turns obstinate and dismissive.
When Equipment retired in 1990 – the identical yr the Badgers’ girls volleyball crew packed the Fieldhouse for a match – some have been shocked. She was younger, simply 50. However as her highly-successful monitor and cross-country coach, Peter Tegen, instructed me just lately, “She fought some battles.”
Equipment wished to spend time along with her new husband, Dale “Buzz” Nordeen, who was her greatest fan and approached me about doing the guide. Buzz died last year. I so want he’d lived to see the guide revealed, however he did benefit from the chapters I shared.
The Sept. 23 Occasions story famous that Ginsburg’s lawsuit on behalf of the younger tennis participant Abbe Seldin was dropped “after the state reversed course and agreed to permit women to check out for the boys’ groups.”
Seldin was injured throughout follow, so she didn’t play for Teaneck. However in keeping with the Occasions, she grew to become the primary lady to obtain an athletic scholarship at Syracuse College.
Seldin additionally, for the remainder of her life, was ready so as to add a singular kicker line to any dialogue of Supreme Courtroom Justice and cultural phenomenon Ruth Bader Ginsburg: “Hey, she was my lawyer.”
In 2009, Teaneck Excessive Faculty established an Athletic Corridor of Fame. Equipment Saunders-Nordeen isn’t in it. How might she be? She was not allowed to play.
However Teaneck Excessive additionally has an exhibit highlighting distinguished alumni of that faculty. In 2018, a plaque honoring Equipment was added. The textual content cites her management position in advancing alternatives in athletics for women and girls.
Doug Moe is a Madison author. Learn his month-to-month column, Individual of Curiosity, in Madison Journal.
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