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ISSUE 117 VOL 12 PUBLISHED 3/5/2004

Leveling the playing field: PAC speaker focuses on women in athletics

By Lisa Gulya
Contributing Writer


Friday, March 5, 2004

Dorothy McIntyre spoke at Tuesday nights Political Awareness Committee (PAC) dinner on the topic of this years Womens History Month: women in sports. McIntyre focused on the oral storytelling tradition as a key to initiating change.

She began the evening with a story illustrating the power of one person to make a difference in the world by lending a helping hand. Throughout her speech, McIntyre spoke about her personal experience.

McIntyre left a farm in Iowa to graduate from Luther College with an education degree. She came to Minnesota in 1957 and worked first at Ellendale-Geneva High School and then in Eden Prairie for a total of 13 years.

As director of the Girls Recreation Association at both schools, she worked to organize over 60 sporting events for her female students.

When the principal told her that she could only have one bus trip paid for, she quickly resolved to get her bus drivers license and drive the girls herself. "I wear this pin for a reason," she said, pointing to a school bus pin on her lapel.

McIntyre pointed out that "what women elect to do is all tied together," and sports is just one part of the search for the growth of opportunity for women. She acknowledges that although women have gained much, there are still artificial barriers to womens success.

"We should be making every effort to make those barriers go away," she said.

McIntyre has been the associate executive director of the Minnesota State High School League (MSHSL) for 33 years. The organization oversees all high school tournaments in the state.

In 1968, McIntyre presented the proposed Bylaws for Girls Athletics to 32 white men. The proposal unanimously passed, and the MSHSL accepted girls' athletics as one of its official programs.

"People cant open the door by themselves," McIntyre said when she was asked her views on discrimination.

"How hard is it for us to be supportive" of young people and their dreams, McIntyre asked. Sometimes, she said, all it takes is someone to reach out and tell a young person, "You are good at this." She also pointed out that girls and women now are benefitting from the work of men and women, like herself, who they may never know, as well as mentors who they do know.

"Oral tradition is so important," McIntyre said. "We need to tell our stories."

McIntyre realizes that to initiate change, one has to "take the risk of saying things that are not very popular." McIntyre said that she received a markedly hostile letter to an editor referring to her as a "Jezebel."

McIntyre shared a now-laughable document from the early 1900s. It deemed that sports were harmful to women since they agitated them emotionally as well as physically. After the document was written, inter-school competition for females was absent from the 1940s until as late as the 1970s in some areas.

McIntyre mused, "How do they think we ever settled this country?"

McIntyre shared that she had had the opportunity to speak with a great- great-granddaughter of Sacagawea. Using this pioneering woman as an example and an inspiration, McIntyre said, "another woman has traveled and so can we."

Before closing, McIntyre urged the audience to discover womens stories for themselves. "Ask some of the women in your family & if they played," she said. After giving each of the audience members their own Sacagawea coin, she gave this farewell: "Enjoy your travels."





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