LOUISVILLE, KY. (WDRB) -- University of Louisville women's basketball player Shoni Schimmel is among a select group of guests -- and the only current NCAA player -- speaking at a special event marking the 40th anniversary of Title IX at the White House this afternoon.
She'll be talking about her experience as a female athlete and the opportunities it has afforded her as part of a panel discussion held by the White House Council on Women and Girls.
"It's definitely an exciting opportunity," Schimmel said in a telephone interview with WDRB.com this morning. "Coach (Jeff) Walz and I talked about it last week sometime and he asked if I was interested in going and speaking on this panel, and all I thought was, 'Wow, what a huge honor.' And with me being the only college athlete up talking, especially. It's exciting and different and I'm ready to be a part of it."
Schimmel, a junior from Mission, Ore., received national attention when a TLC documentary, "Off the Rez," aired about her experience as native American basketball phenom who left the reservation with her mother (who also was her coach) to chase their basketball dreams.
But being a part of a White House panel wasn't one of those.
"Honestly I never thought I'd ever be doing something like this," she said. "I just thought all I did was play basketball. But once you get to college and get older, you realize when you it's not just about basketball, it's about growing as a person and appreciating the opportunities you've been given and making the most of them."
Schimmel arrived in Washington D.C. this morning for the event being held by the White House Council on Women and Girls. It begins at 2 p.m. and is being streamed live here. Viewers also may participate in the event live via Twitter by following the hashtag #WHTitleIX!
Schimmel will speak on a panel discussing Intergenerational Views on the Impact of Title IX in Athletics. It will be moderated by Bonnie Bernstein, ESPN Broadcaster and former All-American Gymnast. Joining Schimmel on the panel are Billie Jean King, Professional Tennis Player, Founder of the Women Sports Foundation; Aimee Mullins, Athlete, Advocate, Actress; Tom Perez, Assistant Attorney General for Civil rights, U.S. Department of Justice; and Laurel J. Richie, President of the WNBA.
A second panel will feature experts from the education field and will focus on Title IX impact in that area.
Title IX of the Higher Education Amendments of 1972 did not mention sports specifically, but revolutionized how universities had to allocate funds for women's athletics. It reads: "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."
In subsequent years, universities who receive federal funding have had to meet gender equity guidelines in terms of number of women's scholarships offered and proportionality of funding.
"With its 37 simple words, Title IX opened up a world of new opportunities ranging from athletic participation to access to education in science, technology, engineering, and math," Deputy Director of the White House Council on Women and Girls Avra Siegel said in a release announcing the event. "In the years since the enactment of Title IX, athletic participation has increased over 1000%, creating more confident, empowered, and inspiring women to fuel the innovation and advancement of America."
Keep watching WDRB.com for more on Schimmel's experience at the White House and her remarks there.