IX AT 50: Career in athletics takes Katy Lonergan from Iola, Kansas to Fighting Irish
“Don’t be afraid to seek whatever it is that you want to do.”
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”
IOLA, Kan. (WIBW) - Katy Lonergan grew up in the small town of Iola, Kansas — population 5,000. Now, she takes the field every Saturday at Notre Dame Stadium.
“It’s something that I’ve always been passionate about, growing up with my dad as a football coach,” Lonergan said.
Lonergan was born into a football legacy. Her dad was the head coach at the local high school in Iola.
“I kind of grew up like the little girl and ‘Remember the Titans,’” she said. “I loved the game, but I mostly loved it because I got to spend time with him if I was following the game.”
Now in her professional career, Lonergan spends her hours in the halls of one of football’s most storied programs.
“I’m a very big football traditionalist and you do not get more traditional than Notre Dame football,” she said. “It’s been very exciting to be here.”
The Kansas native and KU grad is the assistant athletics director for football communications for the Fighting Irish.
“I like to tell people that we’re kind of the liaison between the media and the program,” she explained.
Lonergan joined Notre Dame’s staff after more than a decade in sports information at Kansas.
She got her start in athletics while she was still in college, serving as head manager for the KU women’s basketball team. She then accepted a communications position at Ole Miss after graduating.
In the male-dominated world of football, she often found herself as one of few, if any, women in the room.
“I’ve always been treated with respect,” she said. “Kind of took the time to find my voice in those rooms. Sometimes you don’t even realize it until you look around and then have that recognition like, wow, I’m the only female in here.”
According to the NCAA’s Demographic Database, just 13% of Division I sports information directors are women.
“Your work ethic and the work that you do puts you in that position, so that you aren’t viewed any differently,” Lonergan said.
As a leader in FBS college football, Lonergan hopes to continue the tradition of those who mentored her.
“What do you do when you get here? It’s my responsibility to help bring others along, just like Marian Washington, Maggie Mahood, Christy Causey, people who helped me be where I am today.”
Her advice to anyone who hopes to follow in her footsteps?
“Network, meet people, learn about the position, become as knowledgeable as you possibly can be and make yourself the best candidate for whatever job it is that you want,” she said. “Just go out there, don’t be afraid to seek whatever it is that you want to do.”
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