IX AT 50: KU’s Myers spends 18 years in the water learning & teaching rowing
June 23, 1972, President Nixon signed Title IX into law, prohibiting sex discrimination in educational institutions that receive federal funding. Title IX has largely been considered the springboard for high school and collegiate women’s sports to get where they are today — but the fight for equality is far from over. Every Thursday night at 10:00 p.m. leading up to the 50th anniversary of the law’s passing, 13 Sports will honor the women who changed the game for girls’ and women’s sports in Kansas.
“IX at 50: The Trailblazers of Women’s Sports in Kansas”
LAWRENCE, Kan. (WIBW) - Rowing is the oldest intercollegiate sport in the country, with the first race happening in 1852. The sport came to the University of Kansas in 1995, providing women like Jennifer Myers an opportunity to compete at the NCAA Division I level while learning something entirely new.
“It’s a sport where you figure out when the pain is gonna kind of come, but you know it’s coming,” Myers said. “So it’s a grueling sport.”
Ninety-three percent of rowers at the KU, including Myers, have never taken part in the sport before becoming a Jayhawk.
“I loved the process,” Myers said. “It wasn’t about a day. It wasn’t about just one win, but it was the process of not knowing anything to getting to the end and being able to row a boat with nine people involved.”
Myers joined the team in its second year as an NCAA sanctioned sport at KU.
“It was a new opportunity,” she said. “The older I’ve gotten and the more I’ve coached women, I’ve realized how impressive it was for all women to try something new when you’re 18 years old, because that’s not a time in your life where you, you know, you don’t wanna do things that you don’t really know you’re good at.”
She took the leap and won Oarswoman of the Year” her final season.
Myers accepted a position as assistant coach after graduating. Seven years later, she moved to associate head coach —all the while, teaching women the sport from scratch, just as it had been done for her.
“My job was a novice coach, which meant that you recruited people that had never done it before and you teach them the sport,” she said. “Then by the end of the year, you’re a collegiate rower, and you’re a Division I collegiate rower.”
A lot changed in the nearly 20 years of Myers’ time with the Jayhawks, including a boost in support and facilities.
“When I started the University of Kansas, I was in a chainlink fence and we porta-potties for restrooms,” she said. “Then in 2008 they built an awesome, awesome boathouse on the Kansas River. So it was neat to see that progression of support through Title IX.”
When she retired 14 years later, hundreds of women under her watch took the lessons learned from that 1.25 mile, seven-minute-long race into the next chapter of their lives.
“A lot of it’s just work hard,” she said. “Life’s hard and sometimes it gets hard. You just gotta keep going and, you know, lean on your friends and not everything’s fun and joyful, but the process is great.”
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