50th Anniversary of Title IX, legendary LSU gymnastic coach reflects on progress
BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Thursday, June 23, is a monumental moment for gender equity that was 50 years in the making. Title IX pushed for equality for females in the educational system, and especially, in sports.
A name synonymous with winning and LSU, D-D Breaux cemented her legacy by winning more than 800 gymnastics meets, four SEC championships, and eight top 5 national finishes. She also coached 13 individual National Champions and 239 All-Americans. However, getting the gold was not always easy, especially in the realm of women’s sports.
“You know, it’s not just the 43 years of coaching, but it was the years of growing up and no having the opportunity, not having sports offered to us,” says Breaux.
Growing up as an athlete in Louisiana, Breaux remembers the days when women like herself were limited in sports. It was not until the 1970s, that Title IX came out allowing women equal opportunities in the education system.
“When Title IX was signed into law, nothing happened. Nothing happened. It wasn’t until Chancellor Murrill bit into this, and said we’re going to have women’s athletics at LSU and we are going to do it right,” adds Breaux.
Breaux remembers the challenges and the rights she fought for, whether it was scholarships or being able to hire with competitive salaries.
“You know, here we are sitting in front of this building that is now going to be renovated. It’s a landmark building and this is where they wanted me to train the gymnastics team when I first came here. You know, I was like after I was hired, ‘I am not going in there, that place is condemned.’ I would go in and ask for a billboard, and they are like no you don’t need a billboard. Billboards, you know don’t do anything, and I said ‘well take all of the men’s down,’” explains Breaux.
Back then, Breaux says it all came down to support. If they wanted her to train the best, win, and fill up the Pete Maravich Assembly Center she would need the university behind her. Today, the PMAC is mostly filled with people cheering on LSU’s gymnastics team. “Now, every sport, it’s a fair equation. Every sport here, there’s the same amount of marketing and promoting.”
Breaux says Title IX did open the doors for women but believes it can still evolve, as long as people are willing to address the disparities that come up.
“I don’t want the young people to forget how Kim Mulkey got where she is, how Yvette got to where she is, how I got to where I am today. It wasn’t because we laid back and let and somebody else do it for us. It was because we worked, we pushed, we forced the issue,” says Breaux.
SEC Network recognizes Breaux as a trailblazer for women’s sports.
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