The OHSAA Salutes the 50th Anniversary of Title IX
An Interview with Katie Horstman
NOTE: With this being the 50th anniversary of Title IX being enacted into law, the OHSAA is saluting Katie Horstman as an Ohio Title IX trailblazer. After playing for the Fort Wayne Daisies in the American Girls Professional Baseball League (she was a consultant and made an appearance in the 1992 movie “A League of Their Own,” Katie lived and taught in Illinois and Indiana before returning to her hometown, Minster, in 1972 to teach and coach as girl’s programs were just being recognized by the OHSAA. In 21 years as a coach along with 25 as a teacher, she led Minster to seven state track & field championships, a state cross country championship, six state runner-up finishes in those two sports and another state runner-up in volleyball. Selected to the National Federation of State High School Associations Hall of Fame in 2014, the OHSAA caught up with the 86-year-old Horstman in mid-August 2021. The following was edited for clarity.
Q. Why was it important for you to push for girls sports participation when you returned to
Minster in 1972 as a coach and teacher?
A. When I was teaching in Illinois prior to returning to Ohio, they had everything. And the same thing with Indiana when I lived there. So when I came back here, I was very disappointed that they didn't have any girls sports. I thought that was odd, and I thought maybe I should do something about it. I thought ‘why not have girls sports when the other states have it?’ I always loved it and was very happy that I got to play.
It was rough because the boys had extracurricular activities and we didn’t at all. I played baseball with a lot of girls from California, and they were so ahead of us, I could not believe it. I just thought we should be able to do it if other states could.
Q. How were you able to get the girls programs started at Minster?
A. There was a superintendent there – he only stayed for two years – but I was lucky in that he was very interested in having girls sports. His name was Mr. Knapke. He was great. I had a really hard time convincing the other ones who replaced him to give girls opportunities. The more they were against it, the more I went for it. And I was on a state committee that helped push for girls sports. I was the only woman that was on that committee. But they were so nice to me and we just really hit it off. Because I had experience in Illinois and Indiana, they were receptive to me and what I was talking about.
My dad always said that if you’ve got something that you really want to do, do it, no matter what. My dad was really behind me when I first started.
Q. Do you remember when Title IX became a law?
A. I do remember Title IX becoming a law because 1972 was when we really got started (at Minster).
Q. What do you remember about the beginning days in the early ‘70s when Title IX was enacted and the enthusiasm of the girls and their parents?
A. The parents were all for it. Mr. Knapke was all for it, but the others (that followed him) were against it and said we could only have the gym after nine o’clock because of the boys using it. And I said ‘I’ll take it!’ They didn’t think that I was going to do that, but I did. We only had one gym at the high school. Now they have like three or four.
It was OK for a sport like track. There was only one track, and they wouldn’t let us on it unless the boys were first. But that only lasted until like six o’clock. So I got it at six o’clock, and that was better than nine o’clock (for the indoor sports).
And the girls . . . they had the talent. And why not use the talent you have, and what was so bad about playing sports? It kept them out of trouble. I had sports when I was a kid. I had five brothers. I played ball with two of them, and I wanted to make sure that I was good. Otherwise, they would have probably told me to go back into the house and do some housework. And I hated housework.
Q. Did you think if you were successful with your programs, there would be more support for girls sports?
A. Oh definitely. I felt that if we can do better (than the boys), I knew the people would be behind me.
Q. Did you ever imagine you would have the success that you did at Minster when you first started?
A. I did because I knew the girls were really good. There was talent there. They wanted it probably more than I did. I was from here, so I knew most of the people, even though, when I moved back, I lived in New Knoxville. But I knew the families, their backgrounds and work ethics . . . they were the same as me.
Q. Did you take pride in starting the girls programs at Minster?
A. At the time, I didn't really think about it. I had my own glory playing pro ball, and things like that, but later on they were very, very thankful, especially after I was out of teaching and coaching. (Current) Coach (Robb) Hemmelgarn of the Minster softball team thinks I was the greatest thing on earth, and he still has me come back and throw out the first pitch each year and hit.
Q. What are your thoughts on female athletes today and how far they have advanced compared to your early days?
A. It’s unbelievable. I watched the Summer Olympics, and I couldn't believe it. That volleyball team . . . wow! They could really pound that ball. It was tremendous. I watched everything from the time it started until the time it ended. We’ve come a long way, believe me.