(WKBN) — Thursday is the 50th anniversary of Title IX — the federal law requiring schools to provide equal opportunities for women playing sports. Candy Kekic, who — as Candy Evans — in 1975, became the first woman in Youngstown State history to get an athletic scholarship — in her case for basketball and volleyball. Kekic is a Title IX pioneer.
Kekic showed a scrapbook of her days playing basketball at Boardman High School and later on Youngstown State’s first-ever women’s basketball team in 1975-76.
“I was the first girl that actually played like a guy,” said Kekic.
When she arrived at YSU in 1972, women’s volleyball and basketball were club sports. The men got all the perks.
“We weren’t allowed in the YSU athletic training room. Girls were not allowed to be in there, and I sprained my ankles really bad and I had to buy my own tape,” said Kekic. “If we needed ice, we had to stand outside the door, knock on the door, and ask for a bag of ice.”
Women’s basketball started making headlines in 1975 when it became a YSU varsity sport. That’s when the women were allowed to practice on Beeghly Center’s main court.
“That was the biggest change. That was so nice to have six baskets to practice on, and to get used to the big size floor,” said Kekic.
Kekic then spent 40 years coaching girls’ sports starting as Massillon Jackson’s first girls’ basketball coach where early in her first season the superintendent gave her a raise.
“He goes, ‘Title IX. Thanks, Title IX,’ and I got a $1,300 pay raise equal to the boys’ varsity coach. Oh did I catch flack for that from my men teachers,” said Kekic.
Most recently she was an assistant volleyball coach at Salem. Fifty years later, Kekic understands the significance of Title IX.
“I think it has provided an opportunity for a lot of girls, and I think it’s great that the girls are getting involved,” said Kekic.
Kekic was inducted into the YSU Hall of Fame in 1995 for both volleyball and basketball.