Nancy Lieberman: My winning moment

Courtesy of ODU Athletic Communications

Nancy Lieberman was the first woman to attend ODU on a full athletic scholarship.

When Title IX passed, I was completely oblivious. As a teenager, I took it for granted that if I was good enough, I could get a college scholarship. I didn't even realize at the time that it was hardly something to take for granted. When I learned I was the first female athlete to go to Old Dominion University on a full scholarship, I was honored and almost a little embarrassed, because I clearly didn't understand what it all meant.

Now I'm raising my son to be a Title IX dad. When he was growing up we talked about the law, and how if he had a little boy and a little girl he'd be mad if his daughter couldn't do something his son could just because she was a girl. Then one day he turned the tables on me. He came into the kitchen and said, "Mom, I have a question for you." I could tell it was serious. He asked, "Mom, if you're all for gender equity and fairness, why aren't boys allowed at your basketball camp?"

So I said, "T.J., if you want boys at camp, you're absolutely right." And we started the T.J. Cline division when T.J. was 9. (He's now 17). At first, all the boys and girls were playing separately. "Didn't you want to play with girls?" I asked him.

"No, I just wanted my friends to come to camp," he said. But when I came back from lunch one day I looked across the court to see him playing with four girls. When I asked him why, he answered, "Because I wanted to win." At first he didn't want to play with girls, but when it came down to picking the team that would win, he picked four girls. I couldn't have picked a better scenario, or a better life lesson for my son.

My favorite moment in college sports was covering the 1993 NCAA tournament for ESPN. Atlanta was a pre-sellout for the Final Four for the first time, and Sheryl Swoopes was at the height of her game. She had the most amazing tournament I'd seen, surpassing everyone's expectations. Even men were talking about it. We'd go into airports and people would stop me and talk about how incredible Swoopes was. It helped legitimize us in the eyes of men.

Today's generation should never forget we are making history together. One day, people will look at them and say, "Oh my gosh, they were pioneers." I guess that makes me a grandma pioneer! But this is all because of Title IX, and we're all in this together.

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