The Women of a Special Triad (Title IX, the AIAW, the WBL)

By Elizabeth Galloway McQuitter

The different elements to the lesson will allow students to explore the history of the “Special Triad” – Title IX, the AIAW (Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women), and the WBL (Women's Basketball League)—through group discussion of the perspectives of the players, exploration of poetry written by individuals from the league, and the opportunity to connect with these histories through creating found poetry. Students will then be encouraged to explore more of the story through further reading, a special exhibition, and film.


Guiding Questions 

How Do We Unearth a Living Legacy? How Can We Gauge How Far We Have Come if We Do Not Know Where We Began?


30-45 min


Students will discover the historic and social relevance of women in sports who opened doors and kept them open for generations to follow. They will be able to identify a path that led to the current explosion of women in sports overall and women’s basketball in particular. Students will explore the types of emotions felt by these trailblazers who have lived in obscurity for 50 years and will be motivated and inspired to learn more about the WBL. 


Students should have some knowledge of Title IX. While its original intent was not sports, it has become synonymous with sports opportunities for women.


Warm Up: 

The teacher will begin with warm-up questions: 

  • How many of you have heard of the WNBA? The NCAA? Title IX?  

  • Did you think about women in sports before these entities? Or Title IX? 

  • What is something you wonder about women in sports? 


The teacher should explain to the students that they will learn about and explore the stories of women they may never have heard of before. These women’s stories are incredibly important even though their names and contributions may not be in textbooks or major parts of the history of women in sports the students have heard before. This is an exciting opportunity for the entire class—teacher included—to learn more about some trailblazing women, the hurdles they faced, their perseverance, and their lasting legacy which has provided more opportunities for more women to be involved in athletics! The students will focus their exploration on the important history of the “Special Triad”--Title IX, the Women’s Basketball League (WBL), and the Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (AIAW). 

  1. First, the teacher will guide the students through the PowerPoint with the focus of learning the full impact of each TRIAD entity – Students will draw connections to the Triad and the accomplishments that grew the game of basketball and sports overall. Special emphasis should be placed on social change/acceptance/and breakthroughs (“firsts”).  

  2. Students will then be split into two groups and given one of the following poems to read, “The Birth of a League” and “WE”. The students will write answers to the following questions in response to the poems. 

    • Who do you think the speaker/narrator of the poem is? 
    • What message is the author sharing through the poem? 
    • How do you think the author feels based on this poem? 
    • What is a word or phrase that resonated with you? Why is that? 


  1. After, have the students Think Pair Share their answers; you can pair students in the same poem group or different poem groups.  


  1. Finally, students will reflect on what they’ve learned and explored by writing their own “Found Poem” by taking words from the “Thoughts and Reflections” document and/or the poems. If time, students can share their found poems and discuss differences, commonalities, and the found poetry’s relationship to the original poems. 


Assessment / Homework

Exit Ticket: 

Have students write down their answers to the following questions: Does this story change your perspective on women in sports and if so, how/why? Why is it important to fill in the gaps in history?  


Extension Activity:

Interview a legend (Legends of the Ball, Inc. board members are available on request) The student will come up with questions based on their reflection from the lesson. 

Future Research / Resources
  • Students can explore these stories through videos and documentaries, including: 
  • Legends of the Ball, Inc. Website; LOB, Inc. legends interviews 
  • Books teachers can point to for further learning: Mad Seasons, Karra Porter; The Legend of Molly Bolin, Women’s Pro Basketball Trailblazer, Stephen H. Provost; The Big Time – How the 1970’s Transformed Sports in America, Michael MacCambridge (available Oct 10); Title IX: A Brief History with Documents, Susan Ware. Legends of the Ball, Inc. Website; Personal interviews with the Legends of LOB, Inc. 

D2His.1.9-12 – Evaluate how historical events and developments were shaped by unique circumstances of time and place as well as broader historical contexts. 

D2His2.9-12 – analyze change and continuity in historical eras. 

D2His.3.9-12 – Use questions generated about individuals and groups to assess how the significance of their actions changes over time and is shaped by historical content. 

D2His.11.9-12 – Critique the usefulness of historical inquiry based on their maker, date, place of origin, intended audience and purpose. 

D2His.12.9-12 – Use questions generated about multiple historical sources to pursue further inquiry and investigate additional sources. 

D2His.14.2.9-12 – Analyze multiple complex causes and effects of events in the past. 

D2His.16.9-12 – Integrate evidence from multiple relevant historical sources and interpretations into a reasoned argument about the past.