Sheri BrendenJan 25, 2023
Two Minnesota Athletes and the Road to Title IX
University of Minnesota Press 2022
In Break Point: Two Minnesota Athletes and the Road to Title IX (University of Minnesota Press, 2022), Sheri Brenden examines how two teenage girls in Minnesota jump-started a revolution in high school athletics Peggy Brenden, a senior, played tennis. Toni St. Pierre, a junior, was a cross country runner and skier. All these two talented teenagers wanted was a chance to compete on their high school sports teams. But in Minnesota in 1972 the only way on the field with the boys ran through a federal court--so that was where the girls went. Break Point tells the story, for the first time, of how two teenagers took on the unequal system of high school athletics, setting a legal precedent for schools nationwide before the passage of Title IX.
As Peggy's younger sister, author Sheri Brenden is uniquely positioned to convey the human drama of the case, the stakes, and the consequences for two young women facing the legal machinery of the state, in court and in school. In an account that begins with Peggy painstakingly typing her appeal to the Minnesota Civil Liberties Union and concludes with a long view of what Brenden v. Independent School District 742 set in motion, Sheri Brenden summons the salient details of this landmark case as it makes its way through the courts. Peggy and Toni, coaches, administrators, and experts testify before Judge Miles Lord, whose decision, upheld in a precedent-setting appeal, would change these girls' lives and open up athletic opportunities for innumerable others. Grounded in newspaper coverage, court records, and interviews, Brenden's deeply researched, scrupulously reported book is at heart the story of two talented teenage girls whose pluck and determination--and, often, heartache--led to a victory much greater than any high school championship.
Rebekah Buchanan is a Professor of English and Director of English Education at Western Illinois University. Her research focuses on feminism, activism, and literacy practices in youth culture, specifically through zines and music.