The UNC Asheville Athletics department hosted the Our Turn to Play Luncheon presented by Wells Fargo on April 9th in Kimmel Arena to honor the 40th Anniversary of Title IX as well as the successes of women as leaders and athletes. Former Olympian Marion Jones was the keynote speaker. The event was also a scholarship fundraiser.
Over 300 attendees came together for the program, which was hosted by WLOS TV-13’s Tammy Watford, and featured remarks by Chancellor Anne Ponder, Athletic Director Janet Cone, Robby Russell, Market President from sponsor Wells Fargo, Women’s Soccer Head Coach Michelle Demko, and Grace Blaylock, a senior on the Women’s Basketball team.
Event Committee Co-Chair Rebekah Lowe pointed out that the purpose of the luncheon was to honor the 40th Anniversary of Title IX of the Education Acts of 1973, which outlawed discrimination in education and athletics. “Title IX opened many doors for women, in academics and sports”, she said. The achievements of women since the law’s enactment were also celebrated. The goal of the fundraiser was to raise enough money to support at least one athletic scholarship.
Marion Jones’ speech was well received by the guests as she focused more so on the opportunities that athletics provided to her and others coming from underprivileged childhoods than on the events surrounding her perjury conviction and admission of performance enhancing drug use. Her keynote was preceded by a brief video about those events, but when she came to the podium she emphasized the need for the “choices and chances” that athletics offer. Jones also pointed out that although there is legal equality, there still remains a poignant need for scholarship funding to follow through on Title IX’s promise.
The presenting sponsor was Wells Fargo, and supporting sponsors were PSNC Energy, Mission Health, ABYSA, Pizza Hut, Givens Estates, Insurance Service of Asheville, FizzyWork, UBS, Barley’s Taproom & Pizzeria , Forest Commercial Bank, Pepsi, Arby’s, Eliada Homes, AVL Technologies, Asheville Savings Bank, and Altamont Properties.