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Berthoud High School 1976 Girls’ Basketball Team

When Title IX was passed in 1972, paving the way for girls to play competitive sports in high school, Berthoud High jumped at the chance to have a girls’ basketball team. Gay Hughes was hired as the team’s first coach in 1974, and as she recalls it, starting a program from scratch was exciting—but also challenging.

“We had barely practiced two weeks when we had our first game,” Gay recalls. “At the first scrimmage, I was laughing so hard I couldn’t even blow the whistle.”

Barb (Straight) Day was one of Berthoud’s first female basketball players, and she remembers the excitement of participating in organized girls’ sports for the first time.

“The opportunity to play in high school was bigger than life. It was just so much fun,” she says. “We never gave a lot of thought to equality; it was just a blast.”

Teresa (Beck) Rimsky played on that original team, and she too has many fond memories of those first years of girls’ athletics in schools.

“We imitated what we saw the boys do, but there was nothing organized for us. Up until then, cheerleading was all you could do. Managing the teams was ok too, but when the opportunity came up that we were going to get to play and participate like the boys, it was like ‘oh yeah, I’m all in.’”

The first season, in 1974-75, was challenging, but by the second year, the team seemed to click, and in 1976, just four years after the passage of Title IX, the Berthoud girls’ basketball team beat Windsor High and Weld Central High in a competitive tournament that would be talked about for years to come.

Having lost to both of those teams earlier in the season, the Berthoud team was eager for the rematches.

“In the tournament, we beat Windsor and then beat Weld Central by exactly what they had beaten us by earlier,” Teresa says, recalling that the gym was full for the girls’ games that season and the crowds were excited to see the girls play. “It was novel at the time to go to the girls’ games. Attendance was great—parents, of course, but the kids got into it too.”

“The gym held 600 completely packed, but we had 700 that night,” Teresa recalls.

Winning the tournament meant the girls’ team went to the District tournament and played Burlington High in front of a packed crowd. “The gym held 600 completely packed, but we had 700 that night,” Teresa recalls. “They put bleachers on the stage.” Burlington beat the Berthoud Spartans 52-47, but the team had earned the respect of their school—and taught them things they would carry into adulthood long after high school.

“Teamwork, communication, confidence. Learning how to win and lose, and how to do both with dignity and grace,” Barb says. “You learn how to be competitive and survive in a very competitive world.” Barb also played basketball in college and is grateful for everything she gained from athletics.

“It afforded me the opportunity to get a fabulous education that I wouldn’t have been able to afford otherwise, at least at that level,” Barb says. “It opened up so many doors and lifelong friendships.”

For Coach Gay Hughes, leading the BHS girls through such a successful season was a dream come true.

“I loved basketball as a kid. My dad built me a fancy hoop that was on our garage in our driveway,” she says. “I spent hours out there shooting the ball. I used to get teased for it so bad I would hide in the garage when people came by.”

Title IX – Jackie Anderson

When Jackie Anderson was a student at Loveland High School fifty years ago, there weren’t many opportunities for girls to participate in athletic activities. The only physical activities for girls were cheerleading, which was not considered a sport at the time, and the Girls’ Athletic Association, a sort of intramural organization that allowed girls to practice on volleyball or basketball teams every day before competing for one day each season.

“The girls had to practice at night to work around the boys’ schedule,” Jackie recalls. “The boys had priority.”

Jackie says that back then, people didn’t consider it “ladylike” for girls to participate in sports.

“Back in that day, girls who were heavily into sports were looked at more as tomboys – whereas now, they’re looked at as athletes,” she explains, recalling that when she was in high school, girls were required to wear dresses or skirts to school unless the temperature dropped below zero.

Many girls were members of the Pep Club, an organization that would take buses full of girls in uniform to out-of-town games to sit together and cheer with the cheerleaders.

“Attendance at games was expected, but it was also more of ‘it’s what everyone did,’” she says.

After graduating from LHS in 1972 – the same year Title IX was enacted – Jackie took a job as athletic secretary at the school, a position she held until 1998. She left the job for a while to pursue other opportunities, but when the chance arose to come back to LHS as the athletic secretary in 2013, Jackie returned to the school, and has been there ever since.

Now, having spent decades seeing things change for girls in sports, Jackie says the effects of Title IX are profound, and the differences became apparent in the early 1970s, as LHS quickly added girls’ basketball, volleyball, tennis, gymnastics, swimming, and track over the next few years. She says the effect it had on girls who had wanted to participate in sports for years was immediate.

“I think it creates a sense of belonging and family, and of school pride,” Jackie says. “Even a sport that hasn’t experienced a lot of success, there’s still that sense of accomplishment. You don’t always have to win to be successful. You’re improving skills, teamwork, and character.”

Jackie explains that early on, girls’ sports were never taken quite as seriously as boys’ sports, and that the girls’ teams didn’t have much of a fan base.

“For girls it was more about promoting good sportsmanship and a sense of dedication and achievement,” she says. “Girls weren’t considered at the same level as the boys. I don’t think it took very long for that to change as numbers grew and things got a little more serious.”

Jackie comes from a family that was always into sports, whether as participants or as avid fans. Her parents graduated from LHS in the 1940s, Jackie and her two sisters all graduated from LHS, and the three sisters each married LHS alums as well. Years later, Jackie’s son would also graduate from Loveland High.

“I can remember getting into my red snowsuit as a kid to go to LHS football games. It didn’t matter how far away they were playing, we went,” she recalls. “Loveland High has been such a big part of our family’s life; getting to be a part of our team successes, our school successes is fulfilling. It continues a sense of pride that’s been a part of our family for decades.”

Jackie was also the coach for the cheer team at LHS for seven years in the 1970s and 1980s, watching it evolve from more of an activity to a CHSAA-sanctioned sport.

Spending all of that time immersed in high school sports, Jackie is somewhat of an authority on the effects of athletics on young people.

“There’s so much to learn from it: How to succeed, how to fail in an appropriate way,” she says. “I think it’s good when kids can do something for themselves that makes them stronger, better people, and at the same time get involved in their school.”

As schools expanded their girls’ athletic programs to create more opportunities each year, most recently adding programs such as lacrosse and wrestling, Jackie says the effects of Title IX have become evident.

“It’s much more serious and competitive now, partly because the opportunities are available at a young age, and there are more college opportunities,” she says. “I think it’s fair, and kind of wish maybe it had come along a little bit earlier. Why shouldn’t girls have those same opportunities?”

Title IX – Tiani Shoemaker Clyde

In eighth grade, Tiani Shoemaker Clyde attended an event for Brigham Young University and set goals for her future that she would work toward for her entire high school career. She had been playing basketball since elementary school, and after meeting some BYU basketball representatives, Tiani began telling anyone who would listen that she was going to play basketball for the BYU team one day.

At Berthoud High School, Tiani was a starting varsity player as a freshman, and in her senior year, BHS won its first girls’ basketball championship in the school’s history. Tiani’s extraordinary talent for basketball earned her a full-ride Division I scholarship to her dream school, but the transition wasn’t easy.

“Berthoud was a very small school, and I was used to being the star,” Tiani recalls. “BYU was not only a huge Division I school, but they didn’t really know me or recruit me. From day one, I was just trying to earn my place, to prove that I belonged there.”

Tiani even remembers a time when BYU came to Fort Collins to play the CSU team. “I was a hometown hero, so everybody came to the game. They were chanting for me, and my coach never put me in for the game.” Tiani says she realized then that being successful on the BYU team was going to come with a lot of hard lessons.

“I didn’t think they really wanted me there at first,” she says. “I realized, there’s something else to learn here. Things got better and better. I was never the star, and we never had an amazingly successful season, but my college memories and the things I learned from basketball are so much bigger than even a college degree.”

Tiani played basketball for BYU for four years and graduated with a degree in fashion merchandising. She married the BYU football quarterback and they had three children, but after 10 years, the couple divorced, and Tiani found herself the single mother to three young children. Without any specific plans, she drew on some of the lessons she learned as an athlete and forged ahead.

“This was not at all what I had pictured, but little by little, day by day, I kind of got by by the skin of my teeth,” she says. Tiani got a real estate license, and was a working single mom for over 12 years. It was during this challenging time that Tiani realized her calling was to help those who found themselves in the same position she had been in herself.

“I felt really strongly about wanting to do something to give back,” she says. Tiani started Little Miracles Foundation, which focused on helping single-mom families with small tasks such as laundry and cleaning. “It’s given me such a purpose. People need community and to know they’re not alone. In my time here, I’m going to use my story to help other people.”

Since then, Tiani’s small foundation has grown, and was even featured on the Mike Rowe Facebook series “Returning the Favor.” Tiani has remarried and continues to work as a real estate agent. She is also committed to her non-profit, which has expanded to helping out in several areas, including large-scale projects to help single moms fix up their houses. The foundation has involved thousands of volunteers and has served hundreds of families.

Her two sons, who were also state champion athletes, have graduated high school, and Tiani also has a young daughter she hopes will be afforded many of the opportunities Tiani has had herself. She says it wasn’t until she was an adult that she realized the role Title IX played in her success.

“I didn’t grasp until even recently how important it was,” she says. “I always felt pretty empowered, but I know not all kids do. A lot of it was my parents, my coaches. The lessons I learned from sports are equally, if not more important, for girls to be learning than boys. There’s a lot of moms out there carrying all the weight, filling multiple roles.”

Tiani explains that many of the same important values she learned years ago as an athlete are what pave the way for girls and women to succeed.

“At the end of the day, we are building humans,” she says. “I’ve had a lot of opportunities that weren’t always available to women, and had they not been available to me, a lot of the other opportunities I’ve had wouldn’t have happened either.”

Title IX -Shana Easley

Shana Easley can’t remember a time when she didn’t play any sports. As a child, she spent as much of her free time as possible participating in every sport she could through the Loveland recreation department. Softball quickly emerged as the one she liked the most – and the one at which she excelled.

“You feel good when you do well at something. I liked that piece of it,” Shana says now. “I am an only child, so it was like having an extended family, a sisterhood. It felt like home to be on a softball field.”

Shana played softball at Loveland High School for each of the four years she attended there, and she played at each level – freshman, C-team, junior varsity and varsity. She was also on the golf and track teams, as well as playing on a club softball team. Shana knew she wanted to make softball a big part of her life, and that idea was reinforced when the LHS softball team took second place at state her junior year. After graduation, Shana played softball for four years for the University of Arkansas on a partial scholarship.

“There has been great progress made in the area of Title IX, but there is still work to be done”

“I was very determined to work my way up,” Shana said. After getting her bachelor’s degree in marketing, Shana stayed at U of A for another 2 years, serving as a team manager and assistant coach while earning her master’s degree in sports administration. From there, Shana had multiple opportunities, playing professionally in Arizona and Italy, and then coaching at the college level. Her first coaching job was five years spent leading the team at the University of Missouri in Kansas City, and then she got the opportunity to return to Colorado and become the head coach for the University of Northern Colorado Bears softball. Shana spent six years at UNC, a position she said she loved.

“The transition from being a full-time athlete to a coach, I just liked being able to focus on softball,” Shana says. “It’s rare that you get a job that you can enjoy and don’t feel like it’s work. It makes me feel like a kid, going out and playing ball every day. It keeps you young and I appreciate that part of it.”

That’s not to say that a career centered around sports is all fun and games. Shana is now the assistant coach for the Colorado State Rams, and while she is grateful to still be connected to the sport, she acknowledges her chosen path has been a lot of hard work along the way, both as an athlete and a coach.

“Mentally, it’s challenging in that you have to be really disciplined and organized with your time and energy,” Shana says. “You have to keep making the little decisions you have to make every day to be good at athletics – or at anything.”

For Shana, that decision has been an easy one, and she says having softball in her life has been one of her greatest gifts.

“I feel really fortunate to have had athletics and to continue to have it as an outlet for me,” she says. “I don’t know what my life would have been like if I didn’t. I can’t envision it.”

Because of that, Shana feels especially grateful for Title IX and the opportunities it provides for women in sports, and is hopeful those keep coming.

“There has been great progress made in the area of Title IX, but there is still work to be done,” Shana says. “We need to continue to celebrate and empower women every chance we get, and keep pushing to allocate resources equally in all aspects of women’s athletic programs.”

As a mother to a daughter herself, Shana says she now sees more than ever how important Title IX is.

“I am excited to see what new opportunities are available in her lifetime to keep raising the bar for girls and women,” she says. “I foresee so many new leadership positions becoming available to women solely based on their skillset, knowledge, and sheer determination. It’s an exciting time to see and create change.”

Title IX – Amy Cooper

As she enters her sixth year working in tech for local company Madwire, Amy (Medina) Cooper is used to being in a field where there are many more men than women. While reflecting on the many years she spent as an athlete at Mountain View High School and later at Colorado State University, she thinks that perhaps growing up in a generation where Title IX was always around is something she just accepted and ran with.

“In the moment, I didn’t realize or appreciate the impact Title IX had,” Amy says now. “Even as a kid, I was saying I wanted to beat my brother’s (track) records. I don’t know if it’s just a combination of the coaches I had or the way I was raised, but I’ve never had the feeling that I couldn’t do something.”

Maybe that resolve and confidence is what led Amy, a four-year track and volleyball standout at MVHS, to earn a track scholarship to CSU, where she competed for all four years as a jumper, and won the Mountain West Conference Championship in the spring of her sophomore year.

Amy started doing track in middle school, but her love of the sport started even earlier, as she grew up watching her older brother Christopher race. Today she will tell you that the lessons she gained as an athlete are some of the most important she has ever learned.

“High schoolers have so many things they have to deal with, but sports helped me so much to be confident and responsible and not to care what people think,” Amy says. “The things you kind of take for granted now, and I wouldn’t change it for the world. Many of my best girlfriends were in sports, and I had coaches who are still part of my life today.”

Amy also believes college would have been a much different experience without having track as part of her daily life.

“The great thing about track is it brings men and women into your life. We understood what each other were going through. I stuck to my little close-knit family.”

However, Amy is also the first to admit that being a high school athlete and competing at the college level were two very different things.

“It was tough, because you go from being kind of the big fish in a small pond, to being the small fish once you get to college,” she says. “It was so intimidating competing with juniors and seniors … seeing six-foot jumps for the first time.”

But an equally challenging transition for Amy was when she graduated from college and it was time to end her career as an athlete.

“That was both relieving and difficult. Being an athlete is hard on your body. So much mental and physical energy goes into being a collegiate athlete, so having that weight of my shoulders was wonderful.” Still, Amy found herself feeling a little unsure of her future after she graduated, and wondering what she should do next. It was while she was working at Starbucks that she found her path.

“Madwire was just down the street and people kept coming in the door and they seemed so happy,” she says. “At that time, the company was under 200 people. I just got the email and messaged the CEO, and he gave me a shot.”

And she has been in tech since then, once again believing that she could accomplish any goal she set her mind to and never questioning if it might be more challenging because she was a woman.

“I think that naivete made it so I never doubted it,” she says. “Women before me either had to fight for it, or didn’t get the chance to fight at all. I’m grateful for the women before me who fought for it.”

And with all of that gratitude, Amy keeps in mind she has a responsibility to pay it forward.

“I feel like I keep stepping into spaces where people paved the way for me,” she says. “My goal is to make a better space for those who follow me.”

Title IX at 50 – Lexi Eberhardt

When Lexi Eberhardt began playing basketball as a five-year-old at the Chilson Recreation Center in Loveland, it was the beginning of a love for the sport that would carry her through high school and beyond.

At Loveland High, Lexi played basketball all four years, in addition to playing for a club team 90 minutes away and participating in track at LHS. At just 5’6” tall, Lexi said being shorter just made her more determined to put in the work and effort to be successful.

“It wasn’t easy. I have a really close group of girlfriends and friends. I didn’t get to go to the movies or go shopping or hang out with them a lot,” Lexi says. “In the long run though, I think it definitely paid off because I’m where I am today.”

Where Lexi is today is in the middle of her junior year majoring in communications with a minor in sports management at Colorado State University, where she also played basketball for two years before deciding this year it was time to move to the coaching side of her beloved sport.

“I really grew as a person, and I felt like it taught me how to work harder”

“It was pretty sweet, the opportunity I had there. I’m very fortunate, and I wouldn’t trade it for the world,” Lexi says. “I really grew as a person, and I felt like it taught me how to work harder … instilled a better work ethic in me.” Lexi says that going from playing every minute of every game as a varsity high school athlete to spending much less game time on the court as a college athlete taught her how to bounce back from hard times and how to be accountable.

Then this year, after all those years of playing, Lexi says it was time for a change of pace and she decided to transition from playing to coaching. “I knew if I was going to be done, I needed to still be around it. I have so much passion for basketball and what it’s done for me.”

As the assistant varsity coach at Loveland High, Lexi’s main role is to teach the guards, which was her primary position all through her playing years.

“To me, it’s important that the girls are playing hard and doing great on the court, but off the court I also want them to work hard in the classroom. I want them to be respectful to the community and people around them. Being an overall good person can really take you far in life.”

Lexi learned many of these lessons playing basketball, but she also has a very tightknit family that she credits with making her who she is. Lexi comes from an athletic, competitive family, including her father, who played on a state championship football team and played football in college, a mother who was a dancer and played basketball, an older brother who played football at Loveland High School and for the University of Wyoming, and twin younger sisters who Lexi now coaches at LHS.

“I never thought I’d have the opportunity to coach my sisters, but it’s the best thing in the world,” Lexi says. “They’re great humans and I love it.”

With a goal of one day being the head coach of her own team, Lexi said she is so grateful for the opportunities Title IX has created in her life.

“Going through this process and playing sports is proof that Title IX works,” Lexi says. “I’m proof that it does. Everything that’s happened has made me a better person, and I wouldn’t be playing and now coaching basketball if it weren’t for Title IX. It really gives females an opportunity to do the same thing as males.”

Title IX – Michelle Bird

For 18 years of her life, it was rare for Michelle Bird not to spend a significant part of every day in a swimming pool. Michelle started swimming competitively when she was four years old, and didn’t stop competing until she graduated from college.

Although she acknowledges that she missed out on some things spending so many years swimming year-round, she also says if given the chance, she wouldn’t change a thing.

“Just like any competitive athlete, I missed out on birthday parties. My family didn’t go on vacations in the summer,” Michelle says. “As a kid, it was harder to see the benefit of it, but looking back on it now, everything good in my life is because of swimming.”

Michelle has worked for Larimer County since 2012, and currently serves as the Director of Public Affairs, overseeing communications and engagement, in addition to many other responsibilities. Like many athletes, she credits having a foundation in sports with helping her to accomplish her goals and find success in her career.

“I was very lucky to have great coaches growing up,” Michelle says, referring to Tom Hewson who coached her at the Club level, and Kris Ayers, her coach at TVHS. Michelle also believes that her sister Nicole, who is seven years older than Michelle, shaped her as an athlete. “I grew up watching her swim. I learned a lot about my attitude toward competition from her. She was a sophisticated athlete. She always went into races mentally ready.”

In high school, Michelle routinely got up at 4:30 in the morning to swim, but that was nothing compared to the grueling practices she encountered in college.

Michelle earned a full-ride swimming scholarship to Texas A&M, where she was a Big 12 Conference Champion and a Division I All-American in 2004. Swimming for a collegiate team meant several hours spent in the pool every day, in addition to classes, weightlifting, and aerobic workouts.

“I didn’t have a social life like a normal person in college. We had some time with our team and had fun, but everything was basically built around swimming. That’s what they were paying us to do,” she says.

But it was all that hard work – in addition to a very supportive family and some excellent role models – that Michelle says shaped her into the adult she became.

“I learned that failure isn’t fatal. It’s OK to fail,” she explains. “Also teamwork, being able to work with other people, and being able to build relationships. And that being nervous is OK. It just means you care. You get nervous before a race, and you learn that that’s OK. That’s your body’s natural reaction to caring.”

Michelle believes that if it weren’t for her many years spent swimming, she wouldn’t have the career she loves today.

“I know I am who I am today because of swimming and my family. I very much pride myself on my work ethic,” she says.

Michelle also credits the legislation enacted by Title IX for giving her the opportunities to excel.

“My mom came from a very athletic family, but there weren’t athletics for her,” Michelle says. “My mom never had that opportunity, but in one generation, we went from my mom not being able to do that, to me being able to have my education paid for because of athletics. I’m incredibly grateful for that, and I realize how lucky I was to be born when I was and be able to compete because of Title IX.”