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Freshman honored for community service

Kelly Meehan | Thursday, October 16, 2003

Saint Mary’s freshman Chrissi Egan knew an injustice when she saw one.

While still a high school student, Egan said that she noticed the difference between female sports and male sports in her home state of Kentucky, where she played softball. To combat the gender gap that she and her teammates witnessed, Egan decided to take matters in her own hands. Her actions led to a court decision that would ultimately affect the equity of high school sports throughout the state.

In recognition of her efforts, Egan was one of 10 students to be awarded the Yoshiyama Award for Exemplary Service to Community. She was officially presented with a plaque commemorating the event at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. Tuesday.

Egan and the other nine honorees, who were chosen from among 500 national nominees, were additionally awarded $5,000 for their community awareness efforts.

A Title IX activist in Washington heard of Egan’s efforts and nominated her.

It was the details of discrimination that tipped Egan off that something was amiss in Kentucky high school sports.

“The girls would have to drive across the county to their games and practice fields, whereas the boys’ fields were on campus,” said Egan.

Male high school teams were allowed to play without time limits, Egan said, while the female teams were restricted by an 80-minute on their games. Female coaches in Kentucky were paid less than their male counterparts, as well.

Egan and her softball teammates approached the principal of their high school and superintendent of their school district with their concerns about the institutionalized gender disparities they had noticed.

Neither the principal nor the superintendent wished to be concerned with the situation, Egan said, so her family and three others took their case to court.

The case was settled with a consent agreement that would change things in Kentucky forever. As a result of Egan’s efforts, the time limit on women’s games was lifted and a sports complex was built for her school. Her determination also resulted in changes to Title VI and Title IX, equalizing pay for equal work among coaches.

Because of her convictions, Egan said, she often faced harassment from students and coaches.

“Male athletes would say things to me at lunch, and male teachers who were coaches would make comments to me in class,” Egan said.

Despite winning the award this year, Egan said that she plans on continuing to give back to the community.

“I’d love to continue volunteering in the future,” Egan said. “Everyone needs to help out everyone else.”