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Title IX Impact: Empowering Student Athletes at GAC
Title IX Impact: Empowering Student Athletes at GAC

On June 23, 2022, Title IX celebrated its 50th anniversary. Title IX states “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance”.

In January of this year, the GAC Athletic Department honored the 50th anniversary of Title IX during High School chapel. Assistant Athletic Director and Lower School PE Coach Kristy Shelton, familiarly known as “Coachy,” shared the history and impact of Title IX in our country. She provided a brief history of the growth in women’s athletics at GAC and in the United States over the years.

Shelton explained to high school students that when she and her husband, Clif, were hired in 1982, GAC had only male athletic coaches. In her second year at GAC, she became assistant coach for softball and was the sole female coach for the next two years. In 1985, Shelton became the head coach of softball and Judy Tenney was hired by GAC. Tenney and Shelton coached GAC softball for 16 years.

Today, Shelton is one of 24 female coaches at GAC, not including additional female community coaches. She is an Assistant Athletic Director and mentors other female coaches on our campus.

Shelton continued to tell the students that Title IX impacts much more than sports. She reached out to some of her former players from the past 41 years and asked them what playing sports in high school meant to them. One alumna said, “The coaches and our team who loved each other fiercely changed the trajectory of my life. For the first time I belonged and was loved unconditionally for just being me. You spoke life and truth into me, Coachy. You loved me as Jesus loved.”

Shelton concluded by saying, “I live with great joy in being able to see every step of the way where we’ve come from. And we’ve come a long way. Ladies, remember to play the game with gratitude, put it all on the line for the One who gave you the ability to do what you do. It’s all for Him and it always has been.”

Recent GAC alumni and current collegiate athletes shared video messages of what competing in sports means to them. Students heard from Jada Jones ‘18, Harvard graduate and current UCLA graduate student running sprints and hurdles; Charlee Cutchins ‘22, who plays lacrosse at Stetson University; Micah Bryant ‘22, a soccer player at the University of South Carolina; Ali Schreiber ‘20, a volleyball player at Western Carolina University; and Kaleigh Addie ‘22, a basketball player at Xavier University.

Athletic Director Tim Hardy also informed our students about women’s basketball legend and GAC alumna Cindy Brogdon. Brogdon is the fifth all-time leading scorer in women’s college basketball. She was the state player of the year three times and won three state championships in basketball as a GAC student. She played on the first Women’s Basketball team at the 1976 Olympics in Montreal and is the first female and the ninth Georgian to be inducted into the National High School Hall of Fame.

Coach Hardy shared with the students, “If we truly are about the things of Christ, we’re about valuing everyone that’s in the body and giving opportunity and celebrating that excellence.”

GAC is proud to have over 35 athletic teams for female students, many of which have made play-off runs and won state championships in recent years.