IX AT 50: How Misty Opat went from milking cows to winning national titles
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 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) - Basketball is synonymous for opportunity for Misty Opat.
“Like so many, [I’m] a first generation college student, was raised by my dad, and we didn’t really have the financial means,” Opat said. “So basketball gave me a scholarship obviously to get an education.”
After graduating from Garden City Community College and Bethany College, she went on to get her master’s at Fort Hays State — all while milking cow to make ends meet.
”Kind of went from milking cows to the pinnacle of college women’s basketball at the University of Kansas,” she said.
KU head coach Marian Washington hired Opat as the Jayhawks’ guard assistant. She stayed in that role for three years.
”Coach Washington has done so much for me and so many others, but certainly changed the trajectory of my life,” Opat said.
She then made stops at Fresno State and the University of Illinois Chicago, before eventually landing at Rock Valley College.
Her teams won four national championships in eight seasons.
”There’s no way to describe it,” she said. “It was again next to Kansas, one of the biggest highlights of my career, and it’s still very, very near and dear to my heart.”
Opat is grateful for those who came before her.
”There’s so many women that have allowed for me to have this opportunity every day to wake up and try to impact young women in a positive way,” Opat said.
Now she’s paying it forward by providing opportunities for women to compete and earn an education.
”If I can open doors for at least one young woman who maybe wouldn’t have went to college, then I’ve done what I was supposed to do as a coach,” she said.
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