Sunday, April 22, 2007

Remembering a pioneer for women's athletics

I’ve been getting a lot of response on a feature that ran today on Mary Lou White, a longtime advocate for women’s athletics at Cal Poly who died on April 9.
White was a pioneer for women’s sports at Cal Poly well before Congress passed Title IX in 1972.
Jani Johnson, now a cross country and track and field coach at Cuesta, earned one of Cal Poly’s first six female scholarships in 1975 thanks in part to the work of White and others such as Evie Pellaton.
Johnson shared some of her memories about White and Cal Poly in the mid-70s in an e-mail I received on Sunday evening:

I had a lot of respect for Dr. White as a teacher. She was the teacher of an upper class course I took at Poly in 1977 (learning how to teach a PE activity skill). I was an energetic, somewhat flighty, athletic student who loved sports, but didn't really understand what it took to be a PE teacher. I learned the value of planning a class, looking professional, being on time and being prepared to teach others a skill. I was telling my exercise leadership class at Cuesta about Dr. White and her influence only about 2 weeks ago ... Thank you, Evie, for all you and Mary Lou did for us — the women athletes of my era (60-80s) — in helping us reach our athletic dreams and aspirations. Your guidance and pioneering, in the form of leadership, acquiring sport uniforms, finances for travel and of course, support and encouragement, inspired me to compete as an athlete, as well as teach and coach at the collegiate level.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart!
Jani Johnson

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