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The Pac-10 Celebrates 25th Anniversary Of Women's Sports: Meyers-Drysdale Says 'There's Still Things To Be Done'

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Teri McKeever (back left) became the first woman selected as coach of USA Swimming team last Wednesday. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Teri McKeever (back left) became the first woman selected as coach of USA Swimming team last Wednesday. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
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When USA Swimming announced Cal's Teri McKeever as coach of the USA Swimming women's team at the 2012 London Games, she became the first woman selected to coach an American Olympic swim team.

Although the former USC All-American is no stranger to firsts in the swimming world, as described on Cal's website, her quote in the Sports Illustrated article about the selection seems appropriate.

Teri McKeever named first female coach of U.S. Olympic swim team - More Sports - SI.com
"It's an incredible honor," said McKeever, who is best known for her work with Olympic champion Natalie Coughlin. "I hope someday that being a female on the Olympics staff, whether as the head coach or assistant coach, isn't as noteworthy as it is now. I feel confident that my being a female is not the only reason I was selected."

McKeever also was the first woman to serve as an assistant on the Olympic staff when she worked under Mark Schubert at the 2004 Athens Games. After repeating that role in Beijing, she'll break more ground in London.

Although I must confess it struck me as surprising that there hadn't been a woman coaching the women's swim team prior to McKeever, the announcement also ended up being a fitting time for the Pac-10 to launch their celebration of their 25th anniversary of women's sports with a milestone moment as a conference coaching and playing product received such a high honor.

And UCLA alum Ann Meyers-Drysdale's reflection on the celebration as part of the Pac-10's microsite dedicated to the anniversary is fitting to capture both the significance of the moment and the fact that there is still progress to be made.

"It's still not equal - things still are not equal," said Meyers-Drysdale, acknowledging that football and men's basketball are the revenue-generating sports that support all the other programs. "But Title IX has been huge in trying to make things equal for young girls, but they don't know that that has been a fight to get there. And there's still things to be done, whether it be travel or meal money and things like that - having tutors. But the majority of schools I think offer all that."

It's worth watching the entirety of the Meyers-Drysdale interview to understand the context of the quote, but the core point of her statement essentially mirrors Eric Deggans' sentiment about ESPNw and media coverage of women's sports: there has been plenty of progress made but if we are to truly honor the work of pioneers such as Meyers-Drysdale, we have to at the very least acknowledge that there is still a lasting fight and ideally continue to strive for a more equitable, if not equal, sports world.

In that spirit of looking at Pac-10 women's sports and women's sports media coverage as involved in a similar struggle, the Pac-10 has also joined forces with Janet Champ, who co-created the If You Let Me Play campaign which is still considered among the most profound women's sports campaigns that Nike has made.

From an email announcement about the anniversary from the Pac-10:

Fittingly, the timing of McKeever’s historic appointment comes just as the Pac-10 officially launches a celebration of 25 years in women’s sports to recognize and honor many of the most remarkable performances and ground breaking leadership that have helped define women’s sports. Oregon has certainly had some influence and I thought this might be of interest to you. 

Even legendary copywriter and Oregon resident Janet Champ, who co-created the iconic If You Let Me Play campaign for Nike that empowered young girls to play sports, has joined in the Pac-10 effort to celebrate the amazing achievements over the last 25 years. She has developed three beautiful PSAs that paint a picture of the determination, perseverance and success that these great women have showcased in the Pac-10. Lisa Leslie, Jennie Finch and Natalie Coughlin, three of the most decorated athletes of all-time, provide the voices on the PSAs.

 

The PSA embedded below entitled, "Victories" is narrated by women's basketball legend Lisa Leslie and includes a number of prominent former Pac-10 basketball. The other two videos are available on the same website as Meyers-Drysdale's interview.

 

Courtesy of the Pac-10.

 

Hopefully, the upcoming Pac-10 women's basketball season - which has arguably been the most visible women's sport nationwide - can serve as yet another opportunity to not only celebrate the successes of the past but engage in dialogue about the ongoing quest for equity in the future and what that would actually look like.