Geaux Day at LSU, Southern highlight generational impact of Title IX on 50th anniversary
BATON ROUGE, La. — The date of June 23, 1972, has special significance for LSU Athletics Human Resources Manager Milan Stokes, though it occurred nearly three decades before she was born.
On that June day 50 years ago, the United States Congress passed Title IX, the civil rights law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in any school or education program that receives federal funding. One of the law’s effects was the creation of opportunities where none had previously existed for women to compete in intercollegiate athletics.
Stokes, who played volleyball at LSU from 2016-19, is one of the multitude of female student-athletes who have benefited from the law’s passage.
“Title IX clearly paved the way for my volleyball career,” Stokes said. “Though it was signed 50 years ago, it gave my female coaches and mentors the opportunity to serve as representatives for women my age.
“From my perspective and where I began, I look to them as trailblazers, and in turn they’ve taught me how to uplift the girls in sports coming after me.”
As part of that commitment to influence the next generation, Stokes joined other LSU and Southern University Athletics staff members and student-athletes on June 18 in staging Geaux Day, an event designed to commemorate the incredible history of women’s athletics at both LSU and SU.
Geaux Day was open to the entire Baton Rouge community, as children between the ages of 5 and 17 played a series of modified sports on LSU’s campus. Participants rotated through different stations supervised by LSU and SU student-athletes and athletics staff. The featured sports included gymnastics, volleyball, basketball, track & field, soccer and bowling.
“Geaux Day was an amazing success,” said Lori Williams, LSU Deputy Athletics Director for Leadership and Strategy. “It was made possible due to the participation of LSU and Southern student-athletes and staff volunteers. The day started with a warm-up led by the LSU Spirit Squad and Southern cheerleaders, and the student-athletes and staff members guided the participants through age-appropriate physical activities while sharing each institution’s history of the sport.”
“I thought Geaux Day was an amazing opportunity to bond with the youth of our community over the beauty of possibility and the common ground of sports.” Stokes said. “To see so many young people take to different activities and buy into learning about the history of women in collegiate athletics was both humbling and inspiring.”
A panel discussion about the generational perspective of Title IX followed the sports activities. The discussion was moderated by LSU Director of Student-Athlete Engagement Tomika Smith, and the panelists included Stokes; Hall of Fame former LSU women’s golf coach Karen Bahnsen; Southern volleyball coach Venessa Jacobs; and LSU Compliance Coordinator Taylor Jacobs.
Stokes believes the generational arc of Title IX, combined with events like Geaux Day, will help to inspire future student-athletes to greatness.
“There were so many future leaders on our campus, and they left empowered in thinking about their potential,” Stokes said. “Title IX has fostered a culture of extending a hand and showing support, and for that I’ll forever be grateful.”
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