WARREN GIRLS AND TITLE IX

 

Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 is a United States law enacted on June 23, 1972.  It reads:

“No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participating, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”

Although Title IX is best known for its impact on high school and collegiate athletics, it is interesting to note that the original statute made no explicit mention of sports.

Nevertheless, some of the Title’s most significant impact came in the field of athletics, and it is safe to say that no Rhode Island school system took more immediate advantage of this law than Warren.

The first recorded mention of organized girls sports in the Warren school system came in 1902, when a girls basketball team was formed.  However, over the next six decades girls sports at both the high school and junior high school level were either non-existent or sub-servient to boys athletics.

Things began to change for good in 1970 (prior to the passage of Title IX), when the first girls track team in Warren High School history was formed and the Mary V. Quirk Junior High School girls track team won the state championship.

Over the next six years teams coached by Ann Chandler Morris dominated Rhode Island girls sports:

.1971:  The Quirk girls track team captured the Junior High School State Championship, edging neighboring Barrington.

.1971:  Laurie Figureid was named the Outstanding Senior High School Girl in cross country.

.1972:  The Junior Highs School Gymnastics Championship was won by Quirk.

.1972  Warren High placed second to Smithfield in the State Girls Track Championship.

.1972  Laurie Figureid and Karyn McCahey were chosen as the Co-Outstanding Senior High School Girls in girls track; during the ensuing summer, both competed in the Junior Olympics.

.1972: Quirk was State Runners-Up in Junior High School Girls Track.

.1972: Laurie Figureid was named the Outstanding Senior High School Girl in cross country.

.1973: Quirk won the Junior High State Gymnastics Championship for the second year in a row.

.1973: As Warren High’s girls track squad won the State Championship, Karyn McCahey was named the state’s Outstanding Girl.  Karyn McCahey and Laurie  Figureid now held six state records between them.

.1973: The Quirk girls track team was second to Barrington in the state meet.  Anne Hackley and Shirley Rose were two of the three Outstanding Girls.

.1973: Laurie Figureid was named the Outstanding Girl in cross country for the fourth year in a row (once in junior high and three times in high school), as Warren High placed third in the state.

.1974: The Warren High gymnasts placed third in Rhode Island.

.1974: The Junior High School Gymnastics title was captured by the Quirk girls.  This was Quirk’s third straight state championship.

.1974: After winning the Northeast Division title, the Warren High girls track team repeated as State Champions.  The Warren girls set five state records during the state meet and now held eight of the thirteen girls state records.  Laurie Figureid was named the Outstanding Senior High School Girl.

.1974: Debbie Luciano was chosen as the Outstanding Junior School Girl, as the Quirk team finished second at the State Championships.

.1974: The Quirk cross country squad notched a divisional championship and then won the State Championship.

.1975: The Warren High gymnastics team won both the Eastern and Southeastern Regional Championships before becoming State Champions by downing defending champion North Kingstown.  Sisters Bonnie and Pat O’Blenis totaled more than fifty points between them.

.1975: Quirk won its fourth consecutive Junior High Gymnastics Championship.

.1975: Warren High earned its third straight Girls Track State Championship with a thirteen point win over Barrington.  They had first won the Northeast Division title.

.1975: The State Junior High Girls Track Championship was notched by Quirk.

.1975: Quirk captured its second consecutive State Junior High Cross Country title.

.1976: The gymnasts of Warren High were Eastern Division Champions before placing second to North Kingstown in the state championships.

.1976: For the fifth year in a row, the Quirk gymnasts were crowned State Champions.

.1976: The Warren High girls track team won the Small Schools Championship by edging East Greenwich.

.1976: Defending champions Quirk placed second in the Junior High State Cross Country Championship.

 

During this amazing six-year period Diane Abbruzzi, Mary Ellen Annunziata, Karen Cabral, June Figureid, Laurie Figureid, Lori Francis, Anne Hackley, Cheryl Keyes, Debbie Luciano, Karyn McCahey, Bonnie O’Blenis, Pat O’Blenis, Lauren Pelchat, Beth Penkala, and Shirley Rose were named All State on one or more occasions.  Coach Ann Chandler Morris was named the first Outstanding Contributor to Girls Athletics by the Rhode Island Athletic Directors Association.

Annunziata, Cabral, Laurie Figureid, Hackley, McCahey, Coach Morris, the O’Blenis sisters, Pelchat, Penkala, Rose, the 1974 Warren High Girls Track team, and the 1975 Warren High Gymnastics team are members of the Athletic Hall of Fame.