Image by Sam Tobiczyk
In 1972, only one in 27 female students participated in high school sports, according to an article in History.com. Now, due in large part to Title IX, the federal legislation that has required equal sports opportunities in high schools and colleges, one in every five high school girls plays a sport.
This year is the 50th anniversary of Title IX, legislation that has changed the course of women’s sports. Before Title IX, most sports that high school and college women could play were recreational and informal. It was believed that women could not exert themselves enough to be in a competitive sport, according to an article in The Sports Journal.
Today’s female high school athletes live in a world where being encouraged to play sports is so expected that most current students are unaware of Title IX’s existence. In recognition of its 50th anniversary year, here are a few stories from current Baldwin female athletes and alumni about the role that sports has played in their lives.
Schulte broke records at Baldwin
Setting two school records as a female on the track team was a big accomplishment for Krystal Schulte. The English teacher and Baldwin Class of 2000 alum was a sprinter and long jumper in high school before combining her skills as a pole vaulter.
“When I was in high school, they were really just beginning to open up pole vaulting to females,” Schulte said.
She said that at the time, some people felt that females didn’t have enough upper body strength to compete as pole vaulters.
Playing on a coed team, Schulte enjoyed bonding with her female and male teammates.
“We practiced together. We did the same workouts,” Schulte said. “It made me try to compete with the boys and made me up my game.”
Schulte graduated with two school records. One was a 2nd place for pole vault with a height of 10 feet, 6 inches.
“It was something that was unique. There were not a lot of girls doing it at the time and I think it made me feel proud that I was attempting something that was a little bit new and dangerous,” Schulte said.
Then, she set the school record in the long jump at 16 feet, 11 and three-quarters inches.
Setting the records “was very exciting,” Schulte said.
At the football stadium, Schulte’s name was added to a list of track record holders.
“My name being added to the list was the recognition,” Schulte said.
During her senior year in college at Wheeling Jesuit University, she won a championship in pole vault. She initially missed her first two attempts at one height, but then cleared a six-inch increase in height on her next attempt. Schulte was surprised by her family’s attendance at a meet so far away, as she heard them begin cheering.
Participating in track taught her valuable interpersonal skills from working with a team. She had opportunities for leadership roles that helped her with socialization with others.
It also helped her learn to balance sports and school, because procrastinating was not an option.
“You knew you had to get your work done,” Schulte said.
Leary aims to coach soccer after college
Playing on a Chartiers Valley boys soccer travel team for four years has helped Megan Leary to work harder and push herself to do her best.
“If anything, I was expected to perform better and more consistently than the boys,” Leary said.
Leary wanted a different environment than a Baldwin girls travel team provided, so she moved to the Chartiers Valley boys travel team with her cousins.
“They had a boys team that was looking for people, so I joined and never looked back,” Leary said.
Although playing on a boys team was a different experience than playing with girls, Leary had a great time playing with them.
“I was close with a lot of them. It was mainly just a fun thing for me to do with my friends, “ Leary said.
Leary, a Baldwin senior, has played soccer since she was 5. She also has played on the Baldwin girls soccer team all four years of high school and with an all-girls Pittsburgh Football Club team for seven years.
Soccer has been a big part of Leary’s life.
“How has soccer not changed my life? I have gained so many friends and experiences from the sport,” Leary said.
Soccer has taught Leary lessons in leadership, working with others, and how to give 100 percent every day. Title IX made it possible for female student athletes like Leary to be able to find a sport they are so passionate about, and she could not imagine life without it.
“Soccer will always be a part of my life in some form. I want to coach when I get out of college, which will always keep soccer in my life,” Leary said.
Lutz kept playing college basketball while teaching
Class of 2016 Baldwin alum Carly Lutz has spent the past several months working as a full-time substitute teacher at Harrison Education Center while also playing basketball in her final year of eligibility at Point Park College.
Because of an injury and the way that Covid affected sports seasons, Lutz was able to continue playing at Point Park this past season, even though she graduated in spring of 2021. She had to miss practices because of teaching, but her team supported her.
“The whole team was very understanding and supportive of my decision to play and work. I am very lucky to have the team and coach that I had at Point Park,” Lutz said.
Basketball taught Lutz valuable lessons for coming back from hard times.
“Basketball taught me resilience. Life throws a lot of curveballs, just like a basketball game. I can always handle a challenge,” Lutz said.
Basketball has been Lutz’s way of feeling through her emotions.
“Sports have gotten me through the toughest times of my life. Sports have also given me the happiest and saddest days of my life,” Lutz said.
Lutz lost her best friend, who played basketball with her, to suicide. Through this tough situation, Lutz organized a Baldwin basketball game devoted to depression awareness in memory of her friend.
“We raised money for her foundation and tried to promote education for mental health,” Lutz said.
Without Title IX and the ability to play high school sports, Lutz would have missed some of the key experiences in her life.
“Basketball will always be more than a sport. Basketball is a part of who I am and I can’t imagine my life without it,” Lutz said.
Basketball shapes Lucarelli’s life
Basketball has consumed a lot of sophomore Katie Lucarelli’s time and she is thankful to have met some of her best friends because of it.
She explained how she is thankful for how much time basketball consumes in her life.
“I would be bored and out of shape without it,” Lucarelli said.
Since she was 2 years old, Lucarelli has had the opportunity to play basketball. She said she began playing basketball because her parents and older sisters also played. She also finds the sport very fun and entertaining to play and watch.
She currently plays on the high school team and for the Bruins AAU travel team. She said it feels good to be able to play sports as a female and have the same chance as males.
“We have an opportunity to prove what we can do,” Lucarelli said.
Some of her favorite memories include “seeing the smiles on my parents’ faces in the stands,” Lucarelli said. She also loves seeing her teammates succeed.
Lucarelli has gained life lessons from playing her sport.
“Basketball has enhanced my leadership both on and off the court, which benefits how I address others,” Lucarelli said.
She has also been introduced to new ways of time management through balancing her basketball life with her school and personal life.
“I’ve found that you have to prioritize more of what will get you successful in the long run, and then have fun in the rest of the given downtime,” Lucarelli said.
Wright becomes stronger because of hockey
Junior Evie Wright has had to face criticism from opponents because she is the only girl on the Baldwin junior varsity hockey team.
Wright, who has been playing hockey since the age of 3, has always felt as if she has been treated differently because she is a girl playing a sport played mostly by boys.
“I think there was a certain age when the boys realized that I was different from them and subconsciously started treating me differently,” Wright said.
Being a girl playing hockey has made her a stronger person overall.
“I have been targeted by the other team with insults and catcalls. It’s frustrating but that did not stop me,” Wright said.
Wright has had to persevere through such moments, but they have made her successes more special.
“My favorite moment was one time when I scored my first goal of the season and every single person on my team at the time started screaming and hyping me up,” Wright said.
As an introverted person, hockey has helped her come out of her shell.
“Hockey overall has made me a more outgoing and unapologetic person. I am less introverted and care less what people think about me,” Wright said.
She has had a love for hockey since she could remember and is grateful for the opportunity it has given her to meet new people.
“It is a lot of work but it is very worth it,” Wright said.
Wright enjoys playing hockey for Baldwin and is thankful she can keep playing.
Conboy still holds a running record 30 years later
Coleen Conboy, from Baldwin’s Class of 1982, was named the top Baldwin athlete in her senior year and was inducted into the sports hall of fame because of her talent in running.
Conboy said that winning the Bress Award, which was given to the top athlete in high school, was especially gratifying as a female athlete.
“Back then there was only one award given out to men and women,” Conboy said.
Receiving this award out of every athlete in the school made Conboy feel as if her “hard work, dedication and sacrifice it took to be a good runner” had been worth it.
Conboy moved on to running in college at Edinboro University, where she was inducted in her first year of eligibility into the college’s hall of fame for setting a record of 16:39 in the 5000-meter race, which still stands 30 years later.
“I was the first female All American in any sport at Edinboro University,” Conboy said. “I became a three-time All American in the 5000 meters and cross country.”
Conboy is aware of how difficult it is to become an elite athlete and the importance of great coaching in the development of athletes.
“There have been many terrific and challenging coaches at Baldwin over the years, especially for women, who have demanded excellence as well as positive attitudes to get the best out of female athletes”, Conboy said.
Sport is still a big part of Conboy’s life, as she has used her experiences to coach and guide her son to become a great runner. Overall, sports impacted her to “try to be healthy, competitive, athletic, driven and do what it takes to be successful.”
Volleyball allowed Sgattoni to thrive in Marine Corps
Madison Sgattoni, a Marine Corps officer who graduated from Baldwin in 2017, has learned life lessons from years of playing volleyball.
Sgattoni, who played volleyball from fourth grade straight through college, is now in training to become a combat engineer for the Marine Corps. She said volleyball was her “happy place.”
“It was the thing I worked hardest at and placed so much time and effort into,” Sgattoni said.
Throughout playing, she learned important life lessons that contributed to success in her life now. Volleyball also gave her the opportunity to pursue her career in the Marine Corps.
“Without volleyball I would have never had the opportunity to go to the Naval Academy in the first place. I found out about the Naval Academy because they recruited me for volleyball,” she said. “So I would say it has opened the door for so many experiences and opportunities in my life.”
Her volleyball experiences continue to help Sgattoni in her career with the Marine Corps.
“Ultimately, it has directly translated into my Marine Corps career because the Marine Corps is a team sport. After combat engineer school I could potentially be in charge of up to 50 Marines, so that teamwork and unit cohesion will be necessary for me to continue to take with me in my career, “ Sgattoni siad.
Sgattoni has built lifelong friendships through volleyball, and it has given her the confidence and leadership skills to help her succeed now.
Sgattoni did not fully realize the effect of Title IX until she graduated from high school, but hopes that others can be empowered by their ability to participate in sports.
“I knew about Title XI in high school, but I don’t think I truly had the appreciation of how much of an impact it has made in my life and paved the way for females until I got to college.”
This story was originally published on Purbalite on April 7, 2022.