Senior associate athletics director
When it comes to capturing the scope of Title IX’s impact, nobody understands the trials and tribulations better than Wanda Watkins.
“Early on we would say, ‘These kids work really, really hard,’” said Watkins. “They’re devoted, they need that notoriety, and I’m going to help them get it.”
Watkins was the school’s first female athletic scholarship recipient in 1975. She was then named a graduate assistant coach, followed by an illustrious 35-year stint as the all-time women’s basketball wins leader (549) in program history.
“When I Iook back at the progress that’s been made, it’s been amazing,” she said. “It certainly didn’t come overnight, but it’s just something, an internal drive about you, where you just can’t rest until changes are made.”
Every small victory took years of persistence, as she developed trusted relationships with athletic administrators to ensure the needs of her players were met. A lifetime of progress was realized for Watkins and her staff when they traveled to the Women’s Final Four in the late 1990s.
A young girl sat in front of them wearing a Rebecca Lobo jersey. Holding back tears in her eyes, Watkins told her staff, “Oh my gosh, this little girl finally has a female athlete role model. The world’s really changing for the better.”