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Title IX at 50: Featuring Beth Ann Wilson of Marymount Women’s Volleyball

Title IX at 50: Featuring Beth Ann Wilson of Marymount Women’s Volleyball

 

Welcome to the first edition of Title IX at 50, a series where all through the month of July we will feature stories of Marymount Athletics and the women who have shaped it.

This week features head women's volleyball coach Beth Ann Wilson, who took the reins of the MU women's volleyball program in 1993 as its first full-time coach and never looked back. A four-year student-athlete at Division I William & Mary in the mid-to-late 1980s, Wilson was among the first generation of female NCAA student-athletes as the first official NCAA women's volleyball championship took place in 1981. 

Q: What was it like to be among the first generation of female NCAA student-athletes?

Wilson: "I think we were living in the moment. We didn't have the internet so it was just harder to get information. We would hear about Title IX. I definitely had a coach who was very involved in affording opportunities for women in athletics. I know she had some struggles and wasn't always treated as fairly as some of her male counterparts in the athletic department. So, I had an awareness of that. I think we were just happy to be playing and probably didn't realize the impact Title IX had on making that opportunity available to us. We enjoyed it and we knew we didn't have scholarships like the football or basketball programs. But I don't think we directly correlated it to this inequity."

Q: What is the biggest change from when you played to now?

Wilson: "Right off the bat, I think of scholarship opportunities. When I was at William & Mary, I think we had three scholarships that we spread amongst the entire team. Now, the program is fully-funded which in Division I women's volleyball would mean 12 full scholarships. I definitely think the financial support for women's athletics has been a big change, both in athletic scholarships but also the operating budgets. Having the ability to travel, buy gear, all those kinds of things has definitely been the biggest difference."

Q: What is the biggest change from when you first started coaching to now?

Wilson: "I think with Title IX, the sport grew. There were more opportunities for women to participate in athletics, so the numbers and the popularity of volleyball has grown. We didn't even have volleyball in Arlington and Fairfax County high schools when I started here. I would really recruit out of Prince William County, Maryland, or Pennsylvania. Now, I can recruit at pretty much any school district in the Mid-Atlantic. They're all going to have women's volleyball programs. That's been a huge difference. That increase in numbers has increased the number of college programs in the area so there's just so many more teams that are competitive.  The whole level of volleyball and women's athletics across the board, because of the opportunities that grew out of Title IX, has made all of our teams a lot more competitive."  

Q: What has kept you at Marymount for the last 30 years?

Wilson: "One thing I've always been really grateful for is that Marymount has been really supportive of me as I tried to balance being a working mother. I had all of my kids after I took this job and I just always felt like Marymount had my back, they were flexible, they were understanding. And it allowed the longevity of this career here because of that support Marymount gave me while I was a mom of really young children."

Q: What does Title IX mean to you?

Wilson: "I had not followed much about Title IX as a younger athlete because there weren't as many resources in the 80s and 90s that made it so easy to get information about it. I had only heard about it. But now reflecting back on my career, it just means the hope to give opportunity to more women. To even the playing field in the field of athletics. It has continued to be a big struggle as we're not there yet, 50 years later. So, while we continue to work at it, I'm grateful that it was started all those years ago. We've made strides, but we have to keep doing some work."

For the latest on Marymount Athletics, stay tuned to MarymountSaints.com and follow us on Twitter (@MarymountSaints), Instagram (@MarymountSaints) and Facebook (/MarymountAthletics).

 

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