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TITLE IX, WOMEN'S ATHLETICS AND CCSU

In 2022, Central Connecticut State University and other institutions across the country will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the enactment of Title IX legislation that was passed on June 23, 1972. The law prohibits sex-based discrimination in any school or any other education program that receives funding from the federal government and helped pave the way in athletics for female student-athletes.

   

The law has had a transformative impact on athletics in the United States, ensuring that women have an equal opportunity to participate in school sports at all levels. Its passage paved the way for thousands of women to participate in collegiate athletics, while pursuing an education at CCSU. The legacy they have left in their wake on the field of competition includes championships and Hall of Fame legacies.

HISTORY OF TITLE IX (from Women's Sports Foundation)

Gabrielle Blockley helped shape the legacy of women's athletics at CCSU when she spearheaded the inclusion of the Blue Devils' female athletes and teams into intercollegiate competition. A longtime professor of physical education at Central, she would serve as the head coach of the basketball, field hockey and softball teams during her time at the University. Blockley was the Faculty Advisor from 1958-73 and was among the inaugural class of Alumni Athletics Hall of Fame inductees in 1979.


Dr. Brenda Reilly talks to her team during a timeout (CCSU Athletics)
 

Dr. Brenda Reilly, a 2001 inductee into the CCSU Alumni Athletic Hall of Fame, was regarded as a national leader in the development of women's sports. In addition to being a head coach of the Blue Devils' volleyball, softball and women's basketball programs during her career, she was an administrator in the athletics department and a prestigious physical education professor during her career. Reilly was a sought after lecturer during her career and was integral to the early success of women's athletics at CCSU. 

Reilly came up playing USFHA field hockey and USVBA volleyball before enrolling at California State University at Los Angeles where she earned a bachelor’s degree in physical education in 1969 and played one year of basketball. She would go on to earn a master's degree in physical education from UCLA, her Doctorate of Physical Education from Springfield College, and a sixth-year certificate from Southern Connecticut in administration.

Reilly had 33 total years of coaching across the scholastic, collegiate, international and professional ranks, including leading the CCSU women's basketball program from 1971-1996 where she collected 219 victories and ushered the program during its transition from Division II to Division I. During her tenure at Central Connecticut, Reilly was honored as the 1985-86 NCAA Division II Coach of the Year after leading the Blue Devils to the NCAA quarterfinals. She also coached Hope Linthicum, a Division II All-America selection who finished second in the nation in scoring (28.9 ppg) during the 1986-87 campaign.


The 1986-87 women's basketball team, the first Division I squad in program history (CCSU Athletics)
 

She served as an assistant to former Dartmouth coach Jackie Hullah for the 1991 West Team at the United States Olympic Festival in Los Angeles where the team won a bronze medal. Reilly, who played 13 years of basketball and softball for the Raybestos Brakettes, went on to coach the 1975-76 Women’s Professional Softball League World Champion, Connecticut Falcons. She also coached a professional softball all-star team during a 10-game swing through China in 1979.

Reilly was a NAGWS national collegiate and high school basketball and volleyball official. Among her numerous honors, Reilly was honored by the Women's Basketball Coaches Association with the Jostens-Berenson Service Award, recognizing her lifelong commitment of service to the game of women's basketball, in March of 2000. She was also one of the founding members of the Connecticut Women's Basketball Hall of Fame, which is now located in the Brenda Reilly Gallery in the entryway to the CCSU athletics department in Kaiser Hall.

Reilly was the first woman inducted into the Walter Smith Post Veterans of Foreign War Sports Hall of Fame and she also received the Connecticut Nutmeg Games Living Legend Award in August 1993. Additionally, Reilly was honored with a Gold Key Award by the Connecticut Sportswriters’ Alliance in 1988.


The 2003 women's soccer team defeated Boston College, 1-0, in the NCAA Tournament (CCSU Athletics)

 

Central Connecticut made the transition to NCAA Division I in 1986-87 and would join the Northeast Conference in 1997. Since joining the league, the Blue Devils have enjoyed a remarkable run of success in the league, winning 30 conference championships and 16 regular-season titles. Central has played in 28 postseason tournament, such as NCAA championships and the WNIT. The swimming and diving program won an ECAC Championship in 2007 and CCSU has posted wins in the NCAA Tournament in women's soccer (2003, 2019) and softball (2013). 

Among the greatest teams in school history is the 2003 women's soccer team, which became just the second team inducted into the Alumni Athletic Hall of Fame. That squad became the first to notch a Division I NCAA Tournament win in school history. The 1985-86 women's basketball advanced to the NCAA Division II Quarterfinals and would go 24-4 under the direction of Dr. Brenda Reilly who earned national NCAA Coach of the Year honors.

The long list of decorated females in the Central Connecticut athletics programs includes 34 inductees in the Alumni Athletics Hall of Fame. In addition to coaches and administrators, Blue Devils representing the women's basketball, soccer, swimming and diving, softball, tennis, track and field, and volleyball programs have been inducted in the Hall of Fame since 1979.


Kelly Shimmin was inducted into the NEC Hall of Fame in 2014

 

Kelly Shimmin of the women's soccer team became the first female from CCSU inducted into the NEC Hall of Fame when she was inducted in 2014. She led the Blue Devils to three straight NEC titles from 2002-04 and was responsible for scoring the game-winning goal in the landmark win over Boston College in 2003. She would win a pair of NEC Player of the Year honors, three All-NEC nods and a pair of All-New England honors in addition to being named NSCAA First Team All-Region in 2003 and MVP of the NEWISA Senior Bowl.

      

The list of Blue Devils who have won Northeast Conference individual titles, Player of the Year, Rookie of the Year and MVP honors has grown throughout the years. There have also been countless All-Conference honorees, in addition to those who have been named All-Region and All-America, most recently Roma McLaughlin who earned the honor in back-to-back seasons for women's soccer in 2020-21.

Several standouts have competed in NCAA Championships at the regional and national level in sports such as swimming and diving, and track and field. Most recently, Ashley Dana became the first Blue Devil to run at the NCAA Cross Country Championships when she won an automatic berth in 2021.

      

The history of women's athletics at Central Connecticut continues to be written. With each passing year, the outstanding female student-athletes at CCSU build upon the accomplishments of those who came before them to raise the school's standard of excellence.

FEMALE ALUMNI ATHLETIC HALL OF FAME MEMBERS

Rosemary McGuire Dawn Hankey Lucille Gecewicz Jane McFarlane
Kate Mullen Heather Gardiner Tajuana Sands Julie Twaddle
Brenda Reilly Christine Dadducci Tula Kofitsas Laura Duncan
Gabrielle Blockley Gale Brown Yvette Jones 2003 Women's Soccer Team
Amy Crispino Jen Cote Jo-Ann Dimauro Staves Jamie Crowley
Cynthia Turcotte Linda Galati Farrington Laura Hungerford Tammie Repass
Adriene Pitts-Weatherford Beryl Piper Juliana DiPlacido Kim Murphy-Francis
Jacqueline Adams Cheney Donna Fiedorowicz Jacqueline Hadden Dawn Coccozza
  Hope Linthicum Kelly Shimmin  

 

   

 

CCSU WOMEN'S NORTHEAST CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIPS

Women’s Cross Country
        NEC Champions: 1998, 1999, 2018, 2019, 2020-21, 2021
        NCAA Championships: 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020-21, 2021
Women’s Soccer
        NEC Regular Season Champions: 1997, ‘98, ‘99, 2002, ‘03, ‘05, ‘09, ‘16, ‘18, ‘19, ‘20-21, ‘21
        NEC Tournament Champions: 1997, ‘98, 2002, ‘03, ‘04, ‘05, ‘08, ‘14, ‘18, ‘19, ‘20-21
        NCAA Tournament: 1998, 2002, ‘03, ‘04, ‘05, ‘08, ‘14, ‘18, ‘19, ‘20-21, ‘21 (NCAA win ‘03, ‘19)
Swimming and Diving
        NEC Champions: 2001, 2008, 2009, 2015, 2016, 2017
        ECAC Champions: 2007
        NCAA Championship Participation: 2002, 2005, 2006, 2017, 2018
Softball
        NEC Regular Season Champions: 2013
        NEC Tournament Champions: 2013, 2015
        NCAA Regionals: 2013, 2015 (NCAA win ‘13)
Women’s Basketball
        NEC Regular Season Champions: 2015
        Postseason WNIT: 2009, 2015
Women’s Track and Field
        NEC Champions: 2001 (I), 2019 (O), 2022 (I)
        NCAA Championships: 2012 (O), 2014 (O), 2015 (O)
Women’s Volleyball
        NEC Regular Season Champions: 2001, 2017
Women’s Golf
        NEC Champions: 2001
        NCAA Championship Participation: 2001

     

What 50 Years of Title IX Means to Blue Devils Female Student-Athletes:

Tori Boulay (Volleyball | So. | Kingston, NY)
"As a female athlete, Title IX is very important to me since, as an athlete, sports becomes a central part of your identity. As a woman, this identity can feel false or undermined, but Title IX has helped to validate this part of our identity and promote equality among athletes across different sports and genders."

 

Meghan Kenefick (Basketball | Jr. | Oakton, VA)
"Title IX has afforded me the opportunity to go to college to play the sport I love, as well as pursue a college education that will offer other future opportunities when my playing days are finally over. The 50th anniversary shows how far we have come in creating a level playing field for all student athletes, no matter their gender."

 

Natalie Novak (Volleyball | Sr. | Johnson City, NY)
"Title IX was monumental in that it offers women, like myself, opportunities to participate in sports, become role models, and impact our communities through athletics without discrimination or exclusion. The unforgettable experiences of my athletic career have shaped the woman that I am today. I learned the value of emotional maturity, self-respect, and hard work. Without Title IX, my participation in sports would not have been possible and I would have lost a major part of my personhood. I am grateful for this law and the protections that it provides for myself and all female athletes."

 

Angie Rafter (Track & Field/Cross Country | Gr. | Danielson, CT)
"The idea that women weren't able to compete within the NCAA and sports in general seems so foreign to me. I am so grateful to grow up during a time when girls and women competing in sports is on the rise. Reading about and watching trailblazing women, like [marathon runner] Katherine Switzer, has moved me to be the best version of myself within sports. I think there is still so much work to be done and I hope to advocate for women in sports and I've surrounded myself with women and organizations, who share the passion to take action. I am so excited to see what the next 50 years hold for girls and women in sports!"

 

Amaya Williams (Basketball | So. | Syracuse, NY)
"Nobody should be excluded participation from receiving assistance based off sex. Title IX has affected me because I am currently a collegiate student athlete who has earned a scholarship. Me and my teammates are so talented and I can't imagine us not getting the recognition we deserve, and Title IX makes this opportunity possible. Knowing female athletes could not receive scholarships before is heartbreaking because we work as hard as men do. Equal opportunities are worth having for everyone and Title IX gives us a voice!"

 

CCSU DEPARTMENT OF ATHLETICS

1615 STANLEY STREET

NEW BRITAIN, CT 06050

(860) 832-BLUE

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