June 22, 2012
BERKELEY -On June 23, 1972, President Richard Nixon signed the Patsy T. Mink Equal Opportunity in Education Act. A portion of the law, known as Title IX, stated: "No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity." To recognize of the 40th anniversary of this groundbreaking legislation, CalBears.com will offer a series of features on the impact of Title IX at Cal.
Peter Schnugg, Cal's first NCAA Player of the Year in men's water polo in the early 1970s, has a unique perspective on Title IX. A student-athlete for the Golden Bears before the federal law became in effect, years later he enjoyed seeing the opportunity Title IX provided his daughters.
Schnugg and his family have a deep history with the University of California and Golden Bear athletics. The first Schnugg student-athlete to attend Cal was Peter's older brother, Steve, who was a member of the Bears' tennis team from 1967-71. Two years later, Peter came to Cal on a swimming scholarship to compete for his former water polo club coach in Concord, the legendary Pete Cutino, who at the time coached both swimming and water polo for the Bears.
By the time Peter Schnugg was a senior in 1973, he had led Cal men's water polo to 25-1 record and helped propel Cutino and the Bears to their first NCAA championship and the beginning of Cal's dominance in the sport. Schnugg became Cal's first NCAA Water Polo Player of the Year in 1973 and went on to be a member of the USA Olympic water polo team in 1980.
Schnugg's success seemed to spur on more Schnugg-related water polo standouts. Cousin Mike Loughlin starred from 1974-77, where he was a member of three national championship teams and was a four-time All-American, while Peter's younger brother, John Schnugg, played for Cutino and the Bears from 1978-81.
Even Cal water polo players have married into the Schnugg family. Mike Loughlin, who is married to Peter's sister Sarah, starred from 1974-77, where he was a member of three national championship teams and was a four-time All-American, and Carlos Steffens, a three-time All-American who led the Bears to the 1977 NCAA title and was the 1979 Pac-10 Player of the Year, later married Peter's sister, Peggy.
Two of Peter's daughters, Julia and Stephanie, were student-athletes at Cal as well. Julia, competed for the Cal women's soccer team from 2005-07, while Stephanie was a women's water polo standout from 2006-10.
In all, 15 of Julia and Stephanie's aunts or uncles attended Cal between 1967 and 1986 (Peter Schnugg has three brothers and nine sisters). Additionally, nine of Julia's and Stephanie's cousins attended school in Berkeley, including former men's water polo players Charlie Steffens and Bryan Schnugg. In two generations, 27 members of the extended Schnugg family have sported the Blue and Gold.
Peter Schnugg Q&A
Q: You began competing in intercollegiate athletics at Cal before Title IX became law in 1972. What were your initial thoughts about Title IX?
I think it was a wonderful acknowledgement of the inequities that existed in 1972 and an acknowledgement that competitive sports are as meaningful to women as they are to men. I am a huge believer in the importance of competitive sports to the socialization of our youth.
Q: Your daughters, Julia and Stephanie, had taken advantage of the opportunities provided by Title IX. Talked about what Title IX has meant to your family?
The emergence of the high school and college sports programs for women that resulted from Title IX no doubt created opportunities for my daughters that may not have been there had the availability of women's sports programs just evolved from the demand created by the youth sports programs that were beginning to develop.
Q: Several members of your family attended Cal, do you feel some of the women in your family missed out on opportunities that later became available because of Title IX?
Probably. Many of my sisters competed in sports in high school, although their choices were limited if they wanted to play on a high school team. Furthermore, there seemed to be an impression of women who played competitive sports at that time that was not flattering. Those pressures, I'm sure, led them to give up their athletic pursuits earlier than they might otherwise have done. Many of them compete today in Master's programs. Title IX did more than create a requirement for equity in programs. It was the validation of women in competitive sports.
Q: Do you feel Cal has been a good example to the rest of the country of providing opportunities to female student-athletes, while still taking care of their male student-athletes?
Cal has been committed to fielding as many teams as possible. I like that. Cal is doing an amazing job of fielding competitive teams while spending far less than the average per student-athlete at competing programs. Part of this is due to the attraction of the University to many student-athletes, who are thrilled at the opportunity to attend without the scholarships that may have been available to them at another school. It is also a testimony to the efforts of the administration and the coaching staffs.
Q: How has Title IX provided opportunities for your daughters to not only increase and learn from athletic competition, but also opened doors for them to receive a first-class education at a school such as Cal?
Both of my daughters exhibited a great deal of joy and competitiveness when they were exposed to their earliest athletic opportunities. From softball to soccer to swimming to water polo, they looked forward to the competitions that seemed to occur multiple times weekly. Before each season, we would discuss whether they wanted to sign up again, knowing that the house rules were that they would be responsible for attending all games and practices, except when illness, academics or a family vacation took precedence. With three children playing a sport in every season, we honestly hoped that there would be a point in time where they said, "No thanks". It never happened.
As a result, they learned to compete and have fun, playing for the joy of it. They established life long friendships with teammates because they were able to spend a great deal of time with others whose values and attitudes matched their own. They are very different personalities and both discovered that they could compete and be happy with their own approach.This was particularly important during the high school years. The camaraderie and common ground that existed on their teams got them through those years that were particularly difficult. Without Title IX, it is arguable whether they would have had those opportunities.
Fortunately, Julia and Stephanie developed into athletes capable of playing at the college level. They were also good students. With only a couple of exceptions, the combination gave them the opportunity to play just about anywhere. Both recognized that their athletic accomplishments would give them an opportunity to attend a top academic institution and both wanted to take advantage of that. I think they would both say that it is doubtful whether they could have gotten into Cal on their academics alone, although they would also be quick to tell you that they were above average students. They are now discovering that the combination is a powerful statement as they make their way in the "real" world. Having a resume that includes competing in college sports at Cal has opened doors for them that they did not think would be achievable. In fact, they have discovered that those places that value their competitiveness are the places that they fit best.
It is safe to say that the benefits that have accrued to them from Title IX keep on coming even after their careers are over.