KSHSAA’s Cheryl Gleason dedicates 45 years to sports in Kansas


On June 23, 1972, President Nixon enacted Title IX, prohibiting gender discrimination in educational institutions that receive federal funding. Title IX was widely seen as the springboard for high school and college women‘s sports to get to where they are today, but the fight for equality is far from over. Every Thursday night at 10 p.m. before the 50th anniversary of the law’s passage, 13 Sports will honor the game-changing women for women’s and women’s sports in Kansas.

“IX at 50: the pioneers of women’s sport in Kansas”

TOPEKA, Kansas (WIBW) – Cheryl Gleason spent 45 years in Kansas as a teacher, coach and administrator.

“I love sports and I love the value of sports,” Gleason said. “I learned a lot from that, you know winning isn’t everything. There is a lot to be learned from losing. I love kids and wanted to teach so it was a pretty easy decision for me to want to do this.

She spent the first 13 years as a coach at Osawatomie and Caldwell, then joined the Kansas State High School Activities Association in 1989 – while using the sport as a way to teach life lessons to the next generation.

“They learn to be a little more assertive, they learn to be a lot more confident and sure of themselves,” Gleason said. “They learn that when you make mistakes, everything is fine. You get up and continue again.

For 32 years, Gleason has served as an administrator for gymnastics, volleyball, bowling, tennis, swimming, diving and golf. She also oversaw the KSHSAA Hall of Fame and was the State Director of the Kansas Association for Youth Program, or KAY.

Gleason has been involved with KAY since his first year of high school. To date, she is the only KAY alumnus to have spent 50 years at KAY Leadership Camp.

“The KAY program was really special to me,” she said. “Always is and always will be. “

Gleason retired from KSHSAA in July 2021.

By the time she left, women’s sport had taken giant strides since her high school years, when only tennis was offered.

“When I started teaching and coaching and the girls said, ‘I don’t want to go out, or I don’t want to do that,’ I looked at them and said, ‘You will be working the rest of your life but being in high school activities when you graduate from high school you are now alone. You only have one chance. And I was not that lucky, ”she said. “Don’t give up on this wonderful opportunity to learn, grow and have fun with your peers. It’s not just about winning. It’s not just about being the person on the pitch who scores the most points. There is more to the sport itself.

Gleason will soon be enshrined in the halls of the building she has spent so many years serving, as a member of the 2022 Class of the KSHSAA Hall of Fame.

“I have had an amazing career,” said Gleason. “If I had to do it again, I wouldn’t have changed anything. I like sports. I like to teach. I like to try to inspire young people to be the best of themselves. And I wouldn’t want it any other way.

Gleason was also previously inducted into the Kansas Volleyball Association Hall of Fame and Southwestern College Hall of Fame.

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