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Field Hockey Coach Nancy Cole: Feeling The Heat From Filing A Title IX Complaint

Cole was a four-sport athlete at Long Island's Northport High, and she says she might've played sports herself after she got to Ithaca College in 1965 if the women's sports programs back then weren't such an afterthought- too many practice weeks for too few games. She says once she got to college, she became more preoccupied with other issues that were playing out on college campuses at the time: the Vietnam War protests, the civil-rights movement, the changes that feminists were demanding. "I'm an old hippie deep down," Cole jokes.

Asked what she took away from those years and Cole grows serious: "I learned that it only takes one person to make a difference. To effect change."

Among all the things that have been said about her, it's revealing that it is Quitoni's months-old comment about Cole not being a "team player" -something Cole learned of just a few weeks ago - that cuts her the most.

Centereach has quite literally been her life's work.

Though Cole has coached at prestigious national team camps and Olympic Festivals and she's had plenty of college coaching offers, Centereach has always been the place Cole has returned to.

"I just felt I could do more here," she shrugs.

The corroborating evidence is all around her. Lucille "Buzz" Fuchs, whose four daughters played field hockey for Cole, still raves about the program and the closeness her daughters formed through sports, the way field hockey has taken her and her husband around the world to watch their girls play. Fuchs' daughter Tracey, a two-time Olympian and captain of the U.S. team since 1988, calls Cole "an incredible influence on everyone that's played for her. I think you mold yourself as a person on what you take, what you learn, from good people. And Nancy is one of the best."

Sports today are indeed contested terrain. And there are likely to be more Title IX-related fights before there are fewer. Today's young female athletes have grown up knowing nothing but Title IX. And they've been raised by the first generation of mothers who feel competent to coach their daughters, women who themselves have experienced the firsthand thrill of scoring a goal or seeing a well-hit softball clear a faraway fence or building bonds with teammates that last a lifetime-the same things that have launched men and boys into rhapsodies about sports for years.

At least on that, most everyone can agree. Playing sports makes people happy.

Now, nearly 30 years since the passage of Title IX, Granger is among those who sigh and say, "By now, compliance should be as natural as slipping on a baseball glove."

And what happens when it's not? Cole breaks into that rumbling laugh of hers and answers the question one more time, just for good measure: "Yes, I would file a complaint again. Absolutely."

Source: Newsday article by Johnette Howard first published on June 17, 2001.  Reprinted by permission.