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Robin Magee ‘81: Accidental cross country runner who’s stayed involved in women’s sports

When she was young, Robin Magee never thought she could be an athlete.

“I had no coordination,” she said. “Hand, eye, ball, timing, that sort of thing. I wasn’t particularly fast either.”

But then, in 1973, the year after Title IX had become law, Billie Jean King beat Bobby Riggs at the Astrodome. It was as if a switch had flipped. Suddenly, Magee’s mindset was completely different.

“That made me think, ‘okay, women can do this,’” Magee said. At Greenhills, she became a cross country runner almost by accident. During a field hockey session in gym class, she decided to run laps around the enticing new track instead. Ms. Bradley, her gym teacher, called her back to the field — but by chance, the boys cross country coach Mr. John Goodridge, standing nearby, noticed her running. 

“Looks like she could be a runner,” he said.

By the time Magee began attending college at Princeton a few years later, implementation of Title IX had continued, and the effects were already visible. 

“What Title IX did for me was put institutional structures in place,” Magee said. “By the time I got to college, it was normal for women to be recruited as athletes in a collegiate program. That had not been normal a decade earlier at all.”

It wasn’t just college: impacts were everywhere. After Title IX, for instance, high school girls — in many cases, for the first time — had the chance to compete for state championships. Girls could join national athletic associations that had previously been open only to boys.

“Title IX gave me opportunities that changed the trajectory of my life,” Magee said.

Magee has stayed involved in sports ever since. She remembers coaching a team in Durham, North Carolina in 2016, and being shocked by the size of the roster. When Magee joined the Greenhills Girls Cross Country team, it had six members. This team had 35.

“I thought, ‘this is what Title IX does,’” she said. “Here we are in 2016, and all 35 of these women have grown up knowing they can do anything. They can be in any sport. They can do multiple sports. They can try different things. And it’s normal for them.”

Saturday, April 24
Open to anyone ages 16 and up. Limited quantities available.
Greenhills is closed for mid-winter break and will return on Tuesday, Feb. 22.

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