TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) – High school and college basketball opportunities did not exist for Billie Jean Moore.
“I had all these doors open, all these paths open if I was a young boy, but I didn’t have those same doors and some paths opened if I was a young girl,” Moore recalls.
But, her love for the game opened the doors for countless young girls to come.
“Being a part of something you love and love to do, and maybe that creates a bigger opportunity for someone else, it means a lot to me,” she said.
The former Washburn’s coaching career began at Cal State Fullerton in 1969, three years before Title IX’s death.
“We collected money,” she said. “I mean, we washed cars, we sold treats. You did it all – you ran a concession stand at the men’s game.
The switch did not flip after President Nixon’s signature ink dried.
“It wasn’t like all of a sudden there was this influx of money and this influx of support and all of that was happening,” she said.
The progress, says Moore, has come at the local level.
With the boys-only NCAA, a group of leaders formed the Association of Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (AIAW) – a league by women, for women.
Moore became the first coach in the history of women’s basketball to lead two different schools to national championships: first with Cal State Fullerton in 1970, then with UCLA in 1978.
The latter game attracted 9,000 fans.
“I think it sent a message across the country that looks like people will be supporting women’s basketball when you play and play at a very high level,” Moore said.
Her coaching prowess led her to lead the United States team at the 1976 Montreal Olympics. Montreal marked the first year the Olympics included women’s basketball.
“I told the young girls who were on the team that there would be a lot of Olympians after them, but there would only ever be one first,” she said. .
The United States won the silver medal that year.
“What these 12 young girls did was remarkable,” she said. “Every once in a while you get things that are kind of stepping stones to help the sport develop. I think this is one of the stepping stones that has really taken women’s basketball to the next level. When you do these kinds of things, you can dream them. Now, as a young basketball player, I could dream of being an Olympian. “
By breaking down barriers, Moore paved the way for the next generation of women.
“If you were part of the success of growing something that opened more doors, then yes. Then it was worth all the time, energy and effort you put into it.
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