A Place on the Team: The Triumph and Tragedy of Title IX

A Place on the Team: The Triumph and Tragedy of Title IX

A Place on the Team: The Triumph and Tragedy of Title IX

A Place on the Team: The Triumph and Tragedy of Title IX


A Place on the Team is the inside story of how Title IX revolutionized American sports. The federal law guaranteeing women's rights in education, Title IX opened gymnasiums and playing fields to millions of young women previously locked out. Journalist Welch Suggs chronicles both the law's successes and failures-the exciting opportunities for women as well as the commercial and recruiting pressures of modern-day athletics.

Enlivened with tales from Suggs's reportage, the book clears up the muddle of interpretation and opinion surrounding Title IX. It provides not only a lucid description of how courts and colleges have read (and misread) the law, but also compelling portraits of the people who made women's sports a vibrant feature of American life.

What's more, the book provides the first history of the law's evolution since its passage in 1972. Suggs details thirty years of struggles for equal rights on the playing field. Schools dragged their feet, offering token efforts for women and girls, until the courts made it clear that women had to be treated on par with men. Those decisions set the stage for some of the most celebrated moments in sports, such as the Women's World Cup in soccer and the Women's Final Four in NCAA basketball.

Title IX is not without its critics. Wrestlers and other male athletes say colleges have cut their teams to comply with the law, and Suggs tells their stories as well.

With the chronicles of Pat Summitt, Anson Dorrance, and others who shaped women's sports, A Place on the Team is a must-read not only for sports buffs but also for parents of every young woman who enters the arena of competitive sports.


Early mornings are a teenager's definition of hell. At 8:30 on a chilly November Saturday in 2003, the seventeen- and eighteen-year-old soccer players on the Potomac Mischief were having a hard time getting excited about their first game, against the McLean Mystics in the Bethesda Thanksgiving Showcase. Sleepy and cold, they made simple mistakes and let the ball spin crazily off their feet. (Luckily, the Mystics were just as sleepy.)

The summer and fall had been a long haul for the Mischief, a club consisting of young women who for the most part lived in the affluent Maryland suburbs of Washington, D.C. Most of the team had gone to summer soccer camps at colleges up and down the East Coast. Many of them got together in July and August to play in seven-on-seven leagues. A few worked with Terri Beach, their coach and a former University of Maryland star, in one-on-one sessions. When school started, so did their high schools' soccer teams, which meant practice every day and games twice a week.

The Mischief 's own schedule in the Washington Area Girls Soccer league did not allow them to let up. Instead, the team fit league games, practices, and tournaments in as best it could, on early weekend mornings and whenever it could find time.

For good soccer players—and the Mischief were very good—the sport is a full-time job after school. When they kicked off for this game against the Mystics, Susan Kamenar and her teammates had played roughly twenty-three games apiece since August. And the year was far from over, with tournaments remaining in Delaware, North Carolina, and Florida before New Year's.

Why? Why devote this much time to soccer? Their parents were not forcing them; only a handful showed up to shiver on the sidelines at this game. Peer pressure was not forcing them; they played high school soccer with their friends, but the Mischief was just a group of acquaintances who happened to spend a lot of time together.

Susan hints at an answer in one of her college essays:

Playing soccer is the one thing in my life that has remained constant
and stable throughout my life since I was four years old. Soccer has kept . . .

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