Miriam Skrivanek's Title IX Story
Title IX was passed eleven years before I was born. In fact I had never heard of Title IX until high school. Growing up I guess I did things girls usually didn’t do. I was good in math and science, but seeing as my father was a science professor that didn’t seem out of the ordinary. I was also a sports nut, wanting to play everything, especially basketball and football and we didn’t know who in the family I got that from. I, of course, had the normal girly dolls to play with, but I think I had even more balls and toy cars. Instead of being the girl boys wanted to date, I was the girl they wanted on their basketball team. I was always known as the “girl who played basketball.” From the Saturday mornings in the rec league to weekend trips for AAU, all I wanted to do was play basketball.
Where I grew up in Peekskill, NY, the boys got pretty much what they wanted. They had the better uniforms than the girl, new sneakers and priority over the gym. At the age of 13, I was fortunate enough to attend basketball camp in White Plains. During the first two years of camp the girls played with the boys. This was always a challenge since the boys never passed to the girls. Looking back, it made me stronger. Not just physically, but mentally.
When I turned 17 and was too old to attend camp, I started coaching. So many coaches had helped me become the player I was that I felt it was my duty to give back to other kids so that they could live out their basketball dreams. I loved coaching right away and even after an injury prevented me from continuing to play ball in college, I kept on coaching and knew I’d find a way to make coaching a part of my life going forward.
While basketball was my passion, I had other goals, too. I was a good student, securing an academic scholarship to RPI where I earned a degree in Math with a 3.7 GPA. My next step was to pursue my masters in secondary education. During my first semester of graduate school, I applied for a job teaching Math at an all boys catholic school. I love the disbelieving reactions I receive from people when they find out I teach at an all boy’s school. Why can’t women teach at an all boy’s school?
This past September I applied for the head coaching position of the 7th and 8th grade basketball team. When I told people I was applying for the job their response was generally, “but you’re a woman.” There was even a point where I didn’t think I would get the job because I’m not a man. Luckily Title IX was on my side. I wouldn’t let them dismiss me because of my gender. I got the job and the chance to show all the doubters that a woman could coach boys and motivate them to play at a high level. Now, I have been asked to coach several summer league teams in New York City consisting of the best boys basketball players. At a recent tournament I overheard an opposing player say to his coach “I don’t think I could play for a woman.” In the end it’s not about my gender, it’s about my abilities as a coach and my knowledge of the game of basketball. To date I am happy to say we are 22-3 and on our way to a league title.
Title IX has opened so many doors in my life, not only in basketball, but by allowing me to excel in math and science and get the recognition for it. Because of Title IX, I have found a job I love, and a group of boys to coach that love the game of basketball as much as I do.