Julia Guevara, Laurie Witucki and C. "Griff" Griffin
Since the passage of Title IX, the number of high school girls who participate in sports has risen to 3.2 million, 10 times higher than it was in 1972. The number of college women who play sports is six times higher than the 1972 level.
Three Grand Valley faculty members and administrators said sports played an important role in shaping their lives. They each cited strong family influences as the catalyst to introducing them to a lifelong love of sports, which gave them confidence and leadership skills.
C. “Griff” Griffin, director of General Education, grew up in North Dakota. She played four sports during high school: basketball, golf, track and gymnastics. “Sports were really the forerunner of putting me where I am today,” she said.
Griffin continues to be an active athlete — a world-class athlete, in fact. In October, she competed in the World Sprint Triathlon Championship in New Zealand, finishing in the top 50 for her age group. Griffin competes in about five triathlons annually, and will compete in the World Sprint Championships in London next fall.
“I train more now and I’m a better and faster athlete than I was in high school,” Griffin said.
Julia Guevara, associate vice president for Academic Affairs, said when she was a young girl, sports provided her family inexpensive ways to spend time together.
She played high school basketball, as it was the only sport offered for girls at the time. It looked quite different from today’s game. The teams were six players to a side and only two players were allowed to cross the half-court line.
Guevara earned a bachelor’s degree from Grand Valley and played two years of tennis as a Laker. “What really grabbed my interest in college was racquetball. As an emerging sport that was drawing a number of women, I loved the speed and quickness of the game as well as the direct competition,” she said. She continues to be active in swimming, running and playing softball.
When Laurie Witucki, associate professor of chemistry, was at Princeton University earning a doctoral degree, she joined the cycling team, a club sport.
Witucki, who also serves as faculty director for WISE housing, played basketball and ran track during high school. At that time, Michigan high school girls played basketball in the fall. In 1998, the Michigan High School Athletic Association was sued by an advocacy organization for gender discrimination. A lengthy legal battle ended in 2007 when the MHSAA was found guilty of discrimination by placing girls’ sports in nontraditional seasons.
“The seasons were, of course, different when I got to college,” said Witucki, who earned a bachelor’s degree from Cedar Crest College in Pennsylvania. “I thought, ‘I don’t want to sit around and do nothing until basketball starts.’
“So I joined cross country, and fell in love with it.”