Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 changed the course of women's collegiate and high school sports - for the better.
Its author, our late Rep. Patsy Mink, brought equal opportunity to women in sports with these simple words:
"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."
Of course, Title IX did more than just affect sports - it affected all aspects of education and employment.
But it was truly a liberating moment for women's sports. Suddenly there were scholarships, and major programs began developing at schools across the country.
And, there, almost at the beginning, was Pat Summitt of the University of Tennessee. She was named head coach of the Lady Vols at the tender age of 22 when the former coach quit. From that 1974-75 season until this year, she was a driving force in the growth of women's collegiate basketball.
Summitt went on to become the winningest coach in NCAA basketball history with 1,098 wins. Her teams won eight national championships. Remarkably, she never had a losing season in 38 years as a coach (Source: Wikipedia).
Last August, Summitt announced she had early-onset Alzheimer's disease. She relied heavily on her longtime assistant Holly Warlick to help her through the just concluded season.
Then Summitt graciously announced that Warlick deserved to be the head coach. The legendary coach will have the title Head Coach Emeritus, but the team is now Warlick's to guide.
As Summitt's career ends, it is easy to see how proud Patsy Mink, a Maui native, would be of the way the coach used the opportunity Title IX gave her. Summitt personally helped thousand of female athletes - her example helped countless others.
Pat Summitt took the ball Patsy Mink handed her - and ran with it.
* Editorials reflect the opinion of the publisher.