Title IX: a comprehensive federal amendment barring federally funded educational systems from gender discrimination or sex inequality. For some, Title IX is simply another chapter in the inflated book of federal legislation, but for Terry Febrey, it changed her life. As you can see from the number of times the word “first” is on the list above, Title IX came along just in time for Terry’s athletic career. She is very grateful to all of the men and women who worked so hard to make Title IX happen.
Terry Febrey grew up in Union Hill, NY, with her parents and three brothers. As a child, she and her brothers were encouraged to learn together, all dabbling in housework, maintenance, and sports. Her brothers hung laundry while she helped her father work on the family car; they helped fix a leaky faucet while she and her mother cooked. On sunny Saturday afternoons, she, her brothers and the neighborhood kids would play soccer outside in the backyard. Terry’s parents believed in hard work and self-reliance, encouraging their children to develop practical skills for a sustainable life, regardless of gender. Equality was apparent, or so Terry Febrey thought, until she decided to apply for college. Her parents were disappointed that their only daughter aspired to higher education like her brothers instead of a simpler life better suited for a woman. It was the seventies and they encouraged her to get married young much like the women of their generation. However, Terry Febrey had a different plan; a plan to make an impact.
In 1972, the Title IX education amendment was passed, creating a number of provisions that federally funded schools were required to adhere to. The amendment required that,
“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.”
This entailed after school activities, access to higher education, and standardized testing. Because of this, Terry Febrey was not only able to attend college, but also join their athletic teams.
Cortland State Division 1 Varsity soccer team. The Cortland State Red Dragons set precedents. In a time when women’s sports were, at best, fledgling, and at worse, anecdotal, this soccer team accomplished something very special.
Terry joined the Red Dragons soccer team and immediately stood out. Her impressive physicality and high soccer IQ let her run the defense, playing as Sweeper or fullback. A co-captain of the team, Terry was instrumental to the team’s historic 1980 season. That year, the team would cover themselves in glory, winning both the Regional and the National Championships. This is an incredible accomplishment for a school of Cortland State’s size. Central and Western New York is a hotbed for women’s soccer, birthing such stars as Abby Wambach, and that reputation was forged in part by the excellence of Terry’s team.
In the lineage of women’s soccer in the United States, the 1980 Cortland State team holds a special place. The American athletes who recently claimed the ultimate glory in women’s soccer, the FIFA Women’s World Cup in Canada, grew up in a cultural landscape defined by teams like the 1980 Cortland State squad. The small state school bested much larger private schools in the National Championship tournament in Colorado. They were the epitome of the old adage; “It’s not about the size of the dog in the fight, but of the size of fight in the dog.”
Terry was a two-time All American, an All-Star during the National Championship Tournament, and a recipient of the 1981 Broderick Award for Women’s Soccer.
Terry’s outstanding work ethic, prolific sportsmanship, and appreciation for gender equality has made her a role model for the young adults in her community. She has always been resilient and consistent, applying the values her parents instilled in her as a child into her everyday life as an adult. Ultimately, Terry’s family became, and has remained, supportive, respectful, and best of all, proud of her life choices. They believe that she has shown enthusiasm and gumption on her way to a successful career. Terry has been able to apply this experience to her administrative roles, as well as encourage her students when they need it most.
In addition to working incredibly hard at her job, Terry Febrey often speaks in public forums about Title IX and its impact on her life and her teammates. She encourages her listeners to continue the quest for equality in education, employment, sports and pay. “We’ve come a long way, but there is still much more to do.”
Explore this site to learn more about Terry Febrey and the 1980 Cortland State Red Dragon’s women’s soccer team. This team won the first women’s collegiate soccer championship and it is quite a story. If you want a real life story of the impact of Title IX and what it was like for women athletes at the beginning, go to www.tworedcortlandstatevans.com.