CHS Hall of Fame: Annie, Shelley and Brenda

The CHS Athletic Hall of Fame honors those Camas High School Papermaker teams and individuals who have excelled athletically. The typical individual inductee is blessed with superior athletic talent, competitive spirit, a dedication to training and practice, and the mental tenacity to overcome adversity. Inductees who graduated prior to 1972 share one other common attribute: a “Y” chromosome.

While today’s students take for granted that girls have the same opportunities to compete as boys, such was not always the case. Prior to 1972, when Congress enacted Title IX, high school sports were almost exclusively a male domain. Title IX provided that no persons shall on the basis of gender be excluded from participation or otherwise discriminated against in any education program receiving federal financial assistance. While its initial focus was on the hiring and employment practices of educational institutions, Title IX is best known for its impact on high school and collegiate sports programs. Before the enactment of Title IX, there were only very limited opportunities for girls to compete in sports, and there were virtually no interscholastic girls’ sports programs. With the passage of Title IX, schools were required to offer girls the same opportunities to compete as were available to boys.

In 1972, seventh-grader Annie Arndt took up tennis. Five years later she was a state champion, becoming the first Papermaker girl to win a state championship when she won the girls’, singles title. On the strength of Annie’s first-place finish, the girls’ tennis team also finished first.

When Title IX became law, Shelley Sanford was a first-grader, and by the time she reached high school, girls’ sports were in full swing. Shelley competed in basketball, softball, club soccer and track, but where she really excelled was in throwing the javelin. She won a state title as a sophomore, attended the University of Washington on a track scholarship where she earned All American Honors, and competed in the 1988 and 1992 Olympic trials.

I graduated in 1969, and have wondered which of the girls in my class would have been athletes. One of my classmates was Brenda. She was an honor student, was elected junior prom queen, and had a reputation for being fast, as in fleet of foot. Sometime around the sixth grade, when we were going to school in the Garfield Building (the original high school), one of our teachers organized a race between Brenda and one of the faster boys in our class. The details are now obscured by the passage of time: I no longer remember which teacher orchestrated the event; I am not sure what grade we were in; I do not remember the identity of the boy racer; and the distance of the race escapes me. I do recall that it was held on the playground, that it was a sprint as opposed to a longer distance, and that although Brenda lost, the finish was close and she acquitted herself well. If the teacher had intended to raise our consciousness about gender inequity, or to challenge our conceptions about the role of girls in sports, his efforts were wasted on me. My only recollection is of experiencing a chauvinistic sense of satisfaction that the boy competitor had not lost to a girl.

Since the passage of Title IX, Papermaker girls have excelled. Consider the individual achievements of Annie, Shelley, and current track and cross-country phenom, Alexa Efraimson, to name a few. Consider also team success stories: the 1997-98 Women in Black volleyball teams, the 2002 state champion and 2013 state runner-up softball teams, the 2005 state champion soccer team, and the 2011, 2012 and 2013 girls’ cross-country teams. Those individuals and teams all had the athletic talent, dedication to training, and the mental toughness to become champions. What they had in addition, that Brenda never had, was the opportunity to participate, to compete, and to excel.

Annie Arndt Sumpter and Shelley Sanford Ross have both been inducted into the CHS Athletic Hall of Fame. As for Brenda, she will never gain admittance, not because she didn’t have the ability or the drive but because, like all other girls who graduated prior to 1972, she was denied the chance to even participate, let alone to excel.

Nominations for the 2014 Class of Inductees are due by April 15. Nomination forms and criteria are available on-line at camasboosters.org or by calling 833-5760.