By Glen Farley, The Enterprise (Brockton)
(Last in a three-part series)
BROCKTON, Mass. -- A marketing and liberal studies major at Bentley University, Oliver Ames High School product Lauren Battista boasts a grade-point average of 3.93.
It’s rather apparent she’s “acing” history.
“It’s great what Title IX has done,” said Battista, who as a sophomore led the Falcons to the 2011-2012 NCAA Div. 2 Final Four in women’s basketball. “Forty years ago (President Richard Nixon signed Title IX of the Education Amendments Act into effect on June 23, 1972, banning sex discrimination in schools, whether in academics or athletics) does seem like a long time ago, but I know people like my mom and the coaches I’ve played for grew up in generations where they didn’t have the opportunities to participate in athletics on an equal basis (with men) when they were younger.
“Personally, I know that my involvement in basketball and other sports and the opportunities I’ve had growing up have been a big influence on my life. It goes beyond athletics, though. I think the opportunities women have had in sports have helped them succeed educationally, as well, and attain medical degrees and law degrees. It goes totally beyond sports.”
A 2012 All-Northeast-10 Conference second-team selection in softball as a junior, East Bridgewater’s Nicole Eisenmann can identify with that. She credits Title IX with helping provide her with an opportunity she otherwise might not have had.
“I can remember growing up, being in fourth grade, saying ‘I want to go to college’ and my dad (Mark) telling me, ‘You’ve got to get that softball scholarship,’” laughed Eisenmann, a math major at Stonehill College. “I was fortunate enough, due to Title IX, to be able to defray the cost of college and go to a school I otherwise might not have been able to go to.”
A big fan of University of Connecticut basketball star Diana Taurasi (now a member of the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury) growing up, Battista had little-girl dreams as well.
Years later, recruited heavily during a high school career she capped off by leading coach Elaine Clement-Holbrook’s OA Tigers to a state Div. 2 championship in 2010, Battista – the 2012 Northeast-10 Conference Player of the Year – has made a seamless transition to playing NCAA Div. 2 basketball for coach Barbara Stevens’ Falcons.
“Just at Oliver Ames and at Bentley the past two years, before Title IX was passed we wouldn’t have had that opportunity,” said Battista. “It’s really humbling to know that what was pushed for in the ’70s paved the way for my generation. We should appreciate what was done in the past and the opportunities to participate it’s created.”
Having gone from Middleboro High School to Bridgewater State University, Amber White appreciates the opportunities she’s had as a student-athlete.
“In college, you have to be balanced,” said White, a biology major who is coming off a sophomore season that saw her named the Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference Co-Pitcher of the Year. “Playing college sports and going to school is tough, but it forces you to prioritize everything instead of just going to school and going back to your room. It’s taught me the focus and the discipline to do everything necessary.”
Family ties have taught White to cherish what she has.
“In talking to people like my grandmothers, who enjoy watching me play,” she said, “I know I’ve had opportunities they never did.”
Similarly, Eisenmann is also aware that she’s enjoyed opportunities that many before her lacked.
Scholarships (for women) were very rare before,” said Eisenmann. “It’s definitely more of an even playing field now.”