EMMA — On June 23, 1972, the Education Amendments of 1972 were signed into law. The most notable part of the legislation were the 37 words of Title IX of the act, which read, “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 receiving Federal financial assistance.”
While sports weren’t directly mentioned in the law, Title IX paved the way for what female sports is today. In Indiana, high school girls volleyball and gymnastics were immediately added as IHSAA sports in the 1972-73 season, while girls track, golf, swimming and diving, basketball, tennis, cross country, softball and soccer all eventually followed suit over the next 25 years.
Now, with it being the 50th anniversary of Title IX, The Goshen News is proud to celebrate some of the best female sports achievements from its coverage area.
This story focuses on Skyler (Carpenter) Jacobs, who won an impressive seven individual track titles during her career at Westview High School, including three each in 2011 and 2012.
LEARNING TO HURDLE
As a freshman in high school, Skyler Carpenter didn’t participate in either the 100-meter or 300-meter hurdle events on the track. Instead, she specialized in the sprinting events.
“I started running track in middle school, and at that time, I was beating some of the eighth graders,” Carpenter said. “That was just a little glimpse of maybe potential there. But then it wasn’t until my sophomore year of high school that I even started hurdling.”
After making it to the state meet as a freshman, Carpenter caught the eye of Steve Beattie, who was a track coach that specialized in the hurdle events. Beattie has worked with countless athletes over the years, including those that had competed in the Olympic Trials.
“I had been contacted by a pretty renowned coach in Indianapolis after my freshman year, and he said, ‘I think I can turn you into a pretty good hurdler,’” Carpenter recalled. “And I trusted him.”
Carpenter credits her athletic ability for being able to take on hurdling so easily.
“I was enrolled in gymnastics and then competitive cheerleading from the time of when I was three to the time I was 14,” Carpenter said. “I think just having that body awareness and flexibility at a young age helped me learn the skill of hurdling and incorporate that into the speed I already had.”
After spending a year working with Beattie, Carpenter started finding her state success.
In her sophomore campaign of 2010, she was able to win the 300-meter championship. This, after falling over a hurdle during the 100-meter version of the event earlier in the afternoon.
“For me, not only was (winning the 300) redemptive, but it also was a tangible outcome of all the hard work and belief that my coach had in me,” Carpenter said. “It was proof that things were going in the right direction and that my hard work was paying off.”
Carpenter would build on that success, and then some, in her final two high school seasons.
In both 2011 and 2012, the Westview standout would win the state title in the 100-meter hurdles, 300-meter hurdles and the long jump. That junior season also saw her teammate, Mandy Jones, finish in second place in the long jump at the state meet.
Despite only having two competitors in the field, the 39 points Carpenter and Jones combined to score at the 2011 state meet was good enough for a third-place showing in the final team standings.
“I guess it kind of goes with the naivety of a high schooler, but our dads would be like, ‘That’s so cool!’ And you’re like, ‘Yeah, I guess it’s kind of cool,’” said Carpenter about the 2011 success. “We really didn’t know in the moment, but looking back, it’s really cool, especially in the context of Indiana not having any classifications.”
In total, Carpenter’s seven individual girls track titles is fifth all-time in IHSAA history. That, plus the 85 combined points she scored at the state meet, both rank fifth all-time in IHSAA history.
For her accomplishments in the sport, Carpenter was inducted into the Indiana Association of Track and Cross Country Coaches (IATCCC) Hall of Fame this past June.
“What a career,” former Westview athletic director Darlene Mathew said. “What a very talented athlete; she was a superstar. I think there were some coaches that at times wanted her to specialize in just track, and I don’t think her parents or herself wanted to do that. And I’m so glad she didn’t because she brought so much to the table for our soccer and basketball programs. That group of girls she had with her … that was just a group of girls that was really talented and made the girls’ program look very good.”
Carpenter acknowledged she was taken aback by the hall of fame induction.
“It was really a humbling honor,” Carpenter said. “I honestly didn’t expect it, but reflecting on all that I had done in high school was really cool.”
With it being 10 years removed from her high school career, Carpenter gives a lot of credit to those around her for the success she had.
“You know how they say it always takes a village when it comes to raising children? I think the same of procuring athletes and having them be all that they can be, because it took a village,” Carpenter said. “It’s not to undermine my responsibility in that part, but it was really humbling to reflect on Westview — whether it was a coincidence or not — they put in a new track during my time in high school. I took two P.E. classes my senior year so I could get two workouts in during the day. My dad drove me three hours south every Sunday while I was training.
“I just had the best teammates; they were so supportive. I think that was a really cool part of it.”