It may come as a surprise to hear that women could not attend USF until the mid-1960s, when it finally became a co-ed university. Even then, the lack of female athletes was not formally recognized until the mid-to-late 70s. “The Rise,” a documentary made by USF Athletics that focuses on the rise of the university’s female athletes, is an informative film that sheds light on the women who helped make women’s athletics possible at USF.
Title IX mandates funding for women athletes and “prohibits dissociation on the basis of sex in education program and activities.” While this legislation was implemented in 1972, the NCAA originally fought the idea of women’s athletes being included.
“The Rise” sheds light on the amazing achievements the women’s athletic department has made over the last forty-five years. The film begins with kinesiology professor Geraldine Lauro, who played a pivotal role in making participation in sports possible for female students. She taught physical education classes when she first arrived at USF in 1970, and her teaching paved the way for female athletic teams. Her way of teaching generated excitement for female students, and people began coming to her, expressing their desires to have a women’s volleyball team, a basketball team, a tennis team, and so on.
The film then goes to mention another major candidate who helped to mold and solidify women’s athletics at USF. In 1976, women’s athletics began to grow and scholarships were slowly being granted to female athletes. Sandee Hill was the associate athletics director from 1979-2005. She worked to afford female athletes the same opportunities as their male counterparts. Currently, she is USF’s associate director of women’s athletics. The resources and equipment provided for the female athletes used to be sparse, but Hill kept fighting. She inspired others were her determination in making sure females athletes were treated fairly and equally.
Student athletes also played a major role in the fight for women’s athletics. They set the standard for the type of hardworking and committed female athletes that other universities could expect from USF. The film heavily praises Mary Hile, a talented women’s basketball player. Her success at the university is said to have inspired other female athletes to also play at USF. She was an amazing player and served as an even greater inspiration when she came back to co-head coach the women’s basketball team from 1987-2000. During her time as coach, the women’s team successfully made it to the NCAA championships. Her work solidified the program and brought in more money for the women’s athletic department.
The documentary also covers a more recent women’s athletics star, cross country runner Charlotte Taylor. She is another amazing female athlete who, just this past year, became the first women’s NCAA track champion at USF and came in 2nd overall at the 2017 NCAA Division I Women’s Cross Country Championships. Her wins have served as a motivation for everyone and a reminder that it only takes one person to pave the way for others.
“The Rise” thoroughly highlights major female athletes who now serve as role models for why women should come and compete on USF athletic teams. It also gives important recognition to the women who made and fought for a strong and honest women’s athletic department at the university. This educational film serves as an inspiration for female athletes, and the campus community as a whole, for how much women’s athletics has transformed and flourished in the last 45 years. If you are interested in watching it online, you can search “The Rise: 45 Years of Female Greatness and Beyond” on YouTube and it will come up as the first option.