Girls basketball celebrates fifty years of Title IX after loss to Hersey at E-Town Showdown

Alexis Rogers, Assistant Sports Editor

Over 100 female alumni, current athletes and future Kits gathered at the Welsh-Ryan arena during the third annual Etown Showdown. Their purpose: to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Title IX, the federal law protecting women’s sports from sex-based discrimination in public schools. 

Among alumni were Evanston police chief Schenita Stewart, twin sister Schonella Stewart and niece Angel Mason. Chief Stewart, Schonella Stewart, Schenita’s sister who is a commander of investigation at the Oak Park Police Department, and Mason, Director of Athletics at Berry College, all played basketball at ETHS before graduating to continue in college.

“Both as a commander and chief of police, we support Title IX, the fairness of Title IX,” says Commander Stewart. “As women of color playing basketball but also right now in our professional investigations, we see it.”

Girls basketball head coach Brittanny Johnson agrees with the scope and importance of Title IX, citing it as a motivation for her position today.

“I wouldn’t be able to coach without it,” Johnson says. “I feel like it’s really important that people who have benefited from Title IX also give back to the sport. That’s why it’s important for me to get back into the sport and always make sure that I’m helping to grow the game.”

As leaders in communities, police departments and women’s sport programs, many ETHS alumni present had done their part to ensure justice and equality for female athletes, doing their part to give current and future students the benefits that they were able to receive from sports.

“I think that Title IX is different now because it’s more known,” says Stewart. “We just want people to know what it is and understand what it is. I actually just got a call that we got felony approval on a Title IX investigation. [Mason] interacts with Title IX investigations at her university.” 

As the women and girls headed out onto the court during halftime of the boys’ game to spell out a colorful “IX” in honor of the Title, a presentation of photographs and quotes played to commemorate their experiences.

Earlier that night, the Kits had taken on Hersey in a match that saw ETHS fall short 51-60. After a high-energy home win against New Trier the day before, the Kits failed to match the intensity and execution of the Huskies.

“We stuck with them,” says Johnson. “We gave them a little bit of a fight.”

Despite trailing behind the whole game, the highest deficit the Wildkits faced was the nine-point final difference, as energy depleted and urgency overwhelmed technique. Hersey’s woman-to-woman defense, new for the Kits, provided another challenge.

“I thought we handled their pressure fairly well,” says Johnson. “We rebounded well, and I thought we handled guarding their best player really well. [There are a] couple of things we’ve got to fix in our execution, getting ready for the playoffs, but all in all, I feel good about where we are.”

Zuri Ransom, who was named Player of the Game for the Kits following the contest, scored at least 20 points in the second half, contributing to the score and morale of the team. Hersey’s Meghan Mrowicki, another player of the game, clearly dominated the court with remarkable control, netting 25 points for the Huskies.

Girls basketball takes on Maine West on Tuesday, Feb. 7, followed by defending state champions Carmel on Thursday, Feb. 9. The pair of away games will wrap up their season before the IHSA playoffs.