Title IX benefits middle school athlete

Indian Valley Middle School’s lacrosse team has always allowed boys to play on the girls lacrosse team. Title IX prevents discrimination based on sex in school sports where the school receives federal financial assistance.


**Posing for the camera…***Before their game, Indian Valley’s lacrosse team stands together. The team currently only has 12 players.* *Photo by Suzanne Thomas*

Without a boys lacrosse team at Indian Valley, eighth grader Ryan Johnson plays for the girls team and reaps both athletic and social benefits.
Title IX helps athletes in many ways. “It’s only [going to] make them a better person, a better athlete [and] have more appreciation [for the sport],” Indian Valley lacrosse coach Suzanne Thomas said.
“Ryan [Johnson] came off the first practice and said I never expected it to be that hard, because [he has] such appreciation for the women’s game,” Thomas said.
According to U.S. Department of Education website, “Title IX protects people from discrimination based on sex in education programs or activities that receive Federal financial assistance.”
Title IX helps all athletes be able to play what they want to. “I think giving a child the opportunity to play something they love is huge,” Thomas said.
In girls lacrosse, players are able to get closer to the goalie because of the rules against physicality. “It’s harder to stop a ball in girls because you can get closer,” Indian Valley eighth grader Ava Jones said.
The closer shots put more stress on goaltenders. “I feel like there’s less contact and it’s more pressure on me,” Johnson said.
“Boys [lacrosse] is very aggressive, in boys you can hit them, I know. In girls [lacrosse] you can’t really hit them,” Jones said.
The girls have accepted the team having boys on it. “It’s always been a guys, girls team kinda thing but we have embraced it,” Indian Valley eighth grader Tatum Andrews said.
There are also advantages for athletes beyond athletics itself. “It’s helped [the girls] be able to make that friendship with him that he never really had,” Andrews said.
Johnson is no different from the rest. “The girls treat him like a player,” Thomas said. “They’re not like ‘oh he’s a boy’. They’re like: ‘he’s a player, he’s my teammate’.”
“It’s more like I’m not even there,” Johnson said. “It’s like a regular practice.”
Johnson being on the team benefits everyone, not just him. Before Johnson joined the team, the team did not have a goalie according to Jones.
“Having him step in was beneficial to the team in general,” Andrews said.
The rules and regulations between boys and girls lacrosse differ according to Thomas. “I don’t think it’s a benefit for a boy to play on the field. [Boys lacrosse is] a totally different sport,” Thomas said.
Johnson has reaped many benefits from playing girls lacrosse. “He’s learning more skills [and] he’s getting quicker with his hands,” Jones said.
A defender cannot “come in and whack” an offender. “So with [Ryan], he’s getting players shooting right on top of him, which is a huge benefit for a guy,” Thomas said.
According to Thomas, it is a “huge benefit” for a boy goalie to play girls lacrosse. “It’s harder to stop a ball in girls because you can get closer,” Jones said.