Sports York gathers prominent women sports figures for Title IX celebration

Dante Green
York Dispatch

“Sports changed my life, and I wouldn’t had many of those opportunities without Title IX.”

Special Olympics gold medalist Loretta Claiborne spoke of the adversity she faced in her upbringing as one of eight children with a single mother during the Sports York Title IX event Thursday at the Historic Ashland building in Wrightsville.

One of the most important pieces of legislation to pass in the last 50 years had a much-deserved celebration to celebrate local women and their success in sports. College Gymnast of the Year Trinity Thomas, Elizabeth Grubb, York College Title IX coordinator, and Dr. Abbie Kelley of OSS Health spoke along with Claiborne.

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Claiborne had perhaps the most powerful speech of the day. The multi-sport athlete from York City said she hopes Title IX becomes more a part of school lessons and history. Claiborne told a story of a recent visit to Dallastown Area High School where many girls didn’t know what Title IX was.

“We have to protect Title IX. More young women need to be educated about Title IX,” Claiborne said.

Claiborne, who was born partially blind, also advised everyone to stay in shape later in life as it is important for health down the line. 

The four keynote speakers outlined what Title IX meant for them and their hopes for future generations of women. Kelley also discussed the health impacts sports have had on women’s bodies over the past few years.

Thomas said she has been able to accomplish what she has because of the women who have made it possible over the past 50 years.

“I know I have to continue to push when things are not how they should be. Women in sports should continue to grow. I want to see little girls do what I do, especially representation-wise. Black girls, there aren’t too many in gymnastics. It’s important to push for your dreams and everyone that will come after you,” Thomas said.

She also said it was important to be yourself and be a friendly person who people can come to. She encouraged women to continue to “use the power of their voice.”

Matt Day, York College’s athletic director, spoke of the policy changes his school has made to support women in sports. The college has added women’s wrestling and made programming focused on promoting healthy masculinity and women's inclusion.

Panel moderator Sherri McFadden is a development specialist for the city of York and a mentor for the YaYa Girls, an organization that fosters self-empowerment in girls ages 5-18.

“We are here for the celebration of important legislation and acknowledging the women in their hometown,” McFadden said.

The event concluded with former softball player and mentor Lisa Baker receiving the Playmaker Award. The Playmaker Award highlights someone who had a profound impact on girls’ sports in the county. The award is voted on by the local community.

Baker thanked Title IX and women for providing her the chance to play softball and baseball, sports where she has found a ton of success and continued to mentor young girls. She said she was surprised by the win but was glad to be there to celebrate Title IX.

"Title IX has given women an equal chance as men to play sports, and it’s opened so many doors for me," Baker said. "I’ve coached hundreds of girls and didn’t realize the impact I have had."