LL’s 2 female athletic directors credit Title IX for changing public perceptions | local sports
Without the passage of Title IX, which celebrated its 50th anniversary on June 23, Branden Lippy and Dina Henry might not be athletic directors at Lampeter-Strasburg and Conestoga Valley, respectively.
The women, who have had careers as coaches and athletes, are the only two female athletic directors in the Lancaster-Lebanon League, although they will soon be joined by Cindy Wilson, the league’s former women’s lacrosse coach. University of Millersville, which takes over the torch at Garden Spot for the start of the school year.
Lippy always knew she wanted to work in athletics and never let her gender get in the way.
“Whether I was a woman or a man didn’t matter; I knew I could do this job,” said Lippy, who has been at Lampeter-Strasburg since 2011 and has previously worked at two NCAA Division I schools – the University of Maryland and St. Bonaventure University. . “I always had a plan in mind, so I always worked towards it.”
Lippy gives credit to her male colleagues because they never made her feel like she couldn’t do the job, which made her experience easier.
“I never felt any different,” Lippy said. “I think it certainly speaks to how they treat Ms. Dina Henry in Conestoga Valley and myself. As long as you do your job and do it well, I don’t think, at least in the Lancaster-Lebanon League, anyone cares whether you’re a woman or a man.
Henry and Lippy are part of a legacy that includes former Lancaster-Lebanon athletic directors like Karen Evans of Annville-Cleona, Audrey Stoner and Whitney Seltzer of Cocalico, Lauren Cavallaro of Elizabethtown, Terry Johnston of Lebanon, Julie Beidler from North Lebanon, Angie Giado from Octorara, Julie from Penn Manor Spangler and Amanda Howe from Pequea Valley.
Although Lippy had an overall enjoyable experience in her role, she recalls the initial jitters she felt at her first District Three athletic directors meeting when she was 27.
“There are about 100 of us in the room, and there were probably 10 women, and certainly none of them were in their twenties,” Lippy said. “I would say that’s probably the only time I felt a little nervous, like, ‘Can I do this?’ But I quickly realized that I could do it.
Her mostly positive experience is largely due to Title IX, Lippy said, adding that many women in sports haven’t always had an easy career. As for her specific career as an athletic director, Lippy believes Title IX has changed the public’s perspective on who can excel in such a position.
“(Women) are ready to do this,” Lippy said. “They want to do it. They can do it well.
Lippy saw this desire for girls’ excellence in her own school’s programs, for example, the Pioneers softball team, which won Class 5A state titles in 2018 and 2021, was a finalist in the status in 2019 and a quarter-finalist this season.
“When I started here, our women’s sports weren’t as good as our men’s sports,” Lippy said. “I think that has changed, if you look over the past 10 years. Our women’s sports are equal, (and) if not, have competed on a higher platform than our men’s sports.
As an athlete in high school and college, Lippy always considered herself equal to the boys she competed against.
For Henry, that wasn’t always the case.
Henry played Little League softball and represented his hometown of Williamsport as the East side in the 1990 Little League World Series. His team won…and didn’t. received a lot of recognition for his accomplishments at home.
Fast forward 30 years, to the cancellation in 2020 of the World Series. Members of the 1990 team were approached by a reporter in their hometown to honor the team in a six-day series on their championship anniversary in August.
“I don’t know,” Henry said. “Was it a Title IX product?” I do not know. But to have that kind of coverage these days, you just didn’t see it back then.
Henry remembers how happy it made him to see Little League softball televised on ESPN.
“I was so excited about it,” Henry said. “These girls are on TV…and I love it. We’re definitely catching up; there’s definitely more equality. I still think there are things that can continue to develop.
Henry coached varsity basketball for 19 years and varsity softball for four years. One thing she has always noticed is that the majority of coaches, even for women’s teams, are men. Henry noted that being one of the few women in a leadership position was a challenge, but she never faced a lot of negative attitudes.
“If people don’t want me there because I’m a woman, I don’t know,” Henry said. “I don’t care either, because it doesn’t matter to me. What matters to me is doing the best job possible. »
Henry has two daughters, both involved in sports. Her youngest, who is entering high school this year, spent her elementary and middle school years playing sports with mostly boys on the playground.
Henry gave her some advice – which she also recommends to adults who want a career in sports.
“I always told him there would be boys who wouldn’t accept you playing with them and they would try to bully you,” Henry said. “They’re going to come after you; they will try to make you feel like you don’t belong there. You have to hold on and show them how good you are.
Lippy had similar advice for all girls and women in sports.
“Never stop trying, No. 1,” Lippy said. “Keep on going.”
Lippy encouraged self-doubting girls to look to those who came before them.
“Look at all of us who have succeeded,” Lippy said. “It’s possible. Period.”
Henry encouraged women pursuing athletic careers at all levels to lean on their support system, especially women who are the primary caretakers of their children. Henry had her two children while coaching at Dickinson College in Carlisle, and she was able to show her players that women can be both mothers and wives with a career.
“If you’re in a position where you’re the primary caretaker of the kids and want to take on a leadership role as a professional, that can sometimes be a challenge,” Henry said. “Find a network of other women who are doing this (and) can help you along the way.”
Lippy and Henry both noted the progress that has been happening recently in the world of professional sports, particularly the US women’s soccer team which received equal pay to the US men’s team.
“Women’s sports are equally equal,” Lippy said.