Jackie Joyner-Kersee's winning moment
Growing up in the time of Title IX -- it was passed when I was 10 -- I got a front-row seat to so many great moments in women's sports. Of course I didn't know it at the time.
When I was in elementary school, we weren't allowed to do sports other than cheerleading. By junior high, they let us play, but we had to come back after 6:30 p.m. to practice because there was only one gymnasium and the boys used it first.
It wasn't until I was 14 and watched the 1976 Olympic games on television that I really started to dream about the big time. I remember seeing Evelyn Ashford in the 100 meters, and she was going to UCLA. Then I saw Ann (Meyers) Drysdale win the silver medal with the Olympic basketball team and she also went to UCLA.
So, I set my sights on the Olympics. The only time I saw women on television doing an athletic event was the Olympics, so I figured that was the ticket. I knew my parents couldn't afford to send me to a school like UCLA. (I also hadn't even begun to think about how far it was from my home in Illinois!)
Competing in both track and field and basketball for the Bruins I have a lot of great memories to choose from. But my all-time favorite moment in collegiate sports has to be in 1982 when we won UCLA's first NCAA title in track. These days when teams win a national championship they go to the White House. We didn't get to do that! But victory wasn't any less sweet.
When I came to UCLA the year before, we had a dynasty of a team and were picked to win. But we ended up losing to Tennessee. We all hung together and came back the following year to win the title in nail-biting fashion.
It came down to the last event, the long jump, and we needed a sixth-place finish. I had already competed in the heptathlon and the relays, and a lot of people on the team thought I was too tired. I had just finished the mile relay, and Bobby (Kersee) was coaching. He came up to me and said he understood if I didn't have anything else to give because I already gave everything. I think I was in five, six, maybe seven events but I remember telling him at the time to just give me some gum. I ended up getting third place and jumping my lifetime best to bring home that national title.