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50 years of Title IX at Minnesota State Mankato

In 50 years of Title IX, the women of Minnesota State Mankato created a legacy of their own, winning three of MSU’s eight Division II National Championships.
Published: Jun. 23, 2022 at 9:14 PM CDT|Updated: Jun. 23, 2022 at 10:52 PM CDT
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MANKATO, Minn. (KEYC) - In the 50 years since the Title IX protections were passed, the women of Minnesota State created a legacy of their own, winning three of MSU’s eight Division II National Championships.

Before Title IX, it was common for women to compete as individuals.

Bowling, gymnastics, swimming, and track and field were the four varsity programs present in the mid-1960s at Minnesota State University.

“When I came here it was wonderful. It was great to play for Mankato State, but it was very obvious that there were not as many female sports,” said Sue Ries née Klar, who played tennis at Minnesota State in the 1980s.

By 1975, nearly three years after Title IX, MSU boasted 10 women’s teams, opening opportunities that were never seen before.

Sue Ries, born into a family of male athletes, was an asset to the Mavericks women’s tennis team in the 1980s and shares the perspective of many women before equality was the standard.

“In the past, I’ve probably downplayed it very quickly and just said, ‘well, that was a long time ago.’ The reason I did that, when I think of Coley and Jenny [Vetter] and their teammates and what they’ve accomplished, and what I’ve watched the female sports here at MSU become, I almost felt that I shouldn’t be in that same conversation until this experience here today, to be honest with you, because it’s made me rethink that we’ve had to start somewhere, and it’s nice to have been a part of the building blocks that led to what’s happening now,” Sue Ries said.

Those building blocks eventually led to her daughter, Coley, winning the first softball national championship in school history.

“I think it’s something that you don’t really understand when you’re a young girl playing sports,” said Coley Ries, who went on to play professional softball after her collegiate career and now coaches the softball team at Gustavus Adolphus College. “Your parents didn’t even have that opportunity. My life wouldn’t be what it is without Title IX.”

Title IX was only 37 words, but it gave women the opportunity to excel in higher education, the workforce, athletics, and beyond.

“Kind of angry almost. You know that they were able to do just as much as men, even back then, and they deserve to have opportunities to compete and be athletes and just kind of knowing how my mom is and looking up to her throughout the years, I know there are women just like her who deserve a chance to be athletes,” said Jenny Vetter, a forward on the Minnesota State women’s soccer team who will be entering her senior season in the fall. “Looking back, just wanting more for them, you can’t go back and change anything, but just remembering all women deserve this, even before Title IX.”

Vetter, a two-time NSIC Offensive Player of the Year and All-American who is backed by a 4.0 GPA, is another example of what can bloom when women are given equal and quality opportunities to compete.

“Being an athlete is such a huge part of my identity. Learning the basic skills of teamwork, cooperation and just being a competitor,” Vetter said. “I would not be the same person I am without being an athlete. Teaching young girls and inspiring the next generation is a huge part of that. It was a huge part for me, so I want the next generation to be given that as well.”

On the 50th anniversary of Title IX, 332 of the 659 student-athletes at MSU are women. The university also acknowledges there are remaining imbalances to be rectified.

The conversation surrounding Title IX continues Friday as we look at Minnesota State legend Lori Meyer and her impact as an athlete and coach.

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