Time Out: June 4, 2013

Julie Nash returned to Margaretville Central School as an honored guest at Friday night’s athletic banquet. Nash, a physical education teacher at MCS for over 30 years, was the original champion for girls’ athletics at MCS.

With a humble spirit and a gentle grace and charm, Nash walked the assemblage back in time to an era when girls’ athletics in high school did not stand on equal footing with the opportunities provided the guys. The Delaware League did not sanction interscholastic athletic competition for girls at that time. Any opportunity for girls to test their athletic skills and gain the benefits that came with participating on a team came from the tireless work of crusaders like Julie Nash.
“We had no uniforms,” a smiling Nash told the crowd. “The girls wore different colored pinnies to tell the each other apart.”

Opportunities for the girls to compete were left to Nash and her counterparts in other area local schools. It was up to these champion educators to find days when the playing fields and gymnasiums were available so informal contests, “play days,” could be scheduled where the girls could participate. Those same folks had to find volunteers to officiate the games, keep score and attend to the other background functions that come with staging a sporting event.

Doing the job
Listening to Nash recount those times there wasn’t a trace of remorse in her voice. And watching her former athletes embrace the long-time MCS coach, you could appreciate just how much her labors meant to the girls she guided throughout those years. In fact, there was something refreshing about realizing Nash and her girls didn’t play for the stats, didn’t play to see their names in the paper, and didn’t play for a first-place trophy. Girls played and coaches coached for the love of having an opportunity to simply learn and play the game.

And looking back as she addressed the crowd, you could still feel the marvel Nash felt when Title IX legislation was passed in 1972 leveling so many playing fields in our society, high school playing fields among them.

“Oh, it was just so wonderful when Title IX came to be,” Nash said her eyes twinkling. “It opened a world of so many opportunities for the girls.”

Nash reminded her audience that without Title IX, it would just be the cheerleaders and the boys who would be recognized at the athletic banquet underway. And, Nash urged the young ladies in the audience to understand the opportunities they’ve been afforded and take advantage of them by continuing to maximize the options offered them that girls in earlier eras never realized.

Listening to Julie Nash left me wondering about many things. Among them, I wondered how many of the young ladies receiving recognition Friday night even know what Title IX is and the difference it makes in their lives. And, in a day and age when so many people disparage the role of government in our lives, I wondered if people ever stop to consider how government actions like Title IX have improved the opportunities available to us and the way we live.

Most of all, I wondered about the crusaders like Julie Nash who, day in and day out, gave so much of themselves making the hand they were dealt, right or wrong, the best hand they could play and how many people they influenced in a positive way by doing so.
Thank you, Julie Nash.