September 2000: Vol. 79, No. 4

She's good for sports

Rep. Stephanie Stuckey's gender equity bill will help level the playing field for high school girls in Georgia

by Laura Wexler

Stephanie Stuckey, who represents DeKalb County in Georgia's House of Representatives, has come to campus to tell two classes of P. E. students—many of whom are UGA athletes and future coaches—about the Equity in Sports Bill passed by the General Assembly last spring.

Stuckey (at right, with Gov. Barnes and gender equity bill co-sponsor Kathy Ashe) wants girls to have equal access to facilities and coaching.
Stuckey (AB '88, JD '92), a former high school cheerleading captain, begins by reminding her audience about the ramifications of Title IX, the federal bill passed in 1972 to insure equal opportunity for both genders at all educational levels. At the college level, Title IX's effect is unmistakable. UGA has one of the best women's athletics programs in the country, and many of the women athletes in the room are direct beneficiaries of Title IX.

But Georgia's high schools have been a different story, says Stuckey. Without a system in place to monitor their compliance, the state's high schools have largely ignored Title IX. According to an eight-day series that ran in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution last fall, girls sports are second-class at most of Georgia's 323 public high schools. Athletic participation, according to the AJC, is 64 percent for boys, but only 36 percent for girls—and 75 percent of coaching supplements currently go to boys sports. These are just a few of the disparities.

Inspired by the AJC series, Stuckey and Kathy Ashe, a state rep from Atlanta, wrote a bill aimed at narrowing the gender gap in Georgia high schools. "We're not asking for fifty-fifty," says Stuckey. "We're asking for equal opportunity."

Equal opportunity doesn't necessarily mean money must be evenly distributed between girls and boys sports. Football uniforms, for instance, cost a lot more than girls swimsuits. Rather, the Equity in Sports Bill requires high schools to provide girls with athletic opportunities equal to boys. Girls teams, according to the bill, must receive the same quality of coaching and facilities, as well as equal access to favorable practice and game times. The bill also requires high schools to offer girls sports for which scholarships are offered by the University System of Georgia. For instance, fast-pitch softball is a scholarship sport at UGA. But most of Georgia's high schools currently offer only slow-pitch softball—which means Georgia girls are effectively denied an opportunity to compete for fast-pitch scholarships.

Though Stuckey has only just completed her first year in the General Assembly, she's had no shortage of political training. Her father is William S. Stuckey Jr. (BBA '56, JD '59), who represented Georgia in Congress from 1966-76. At UGA, she was vice-president of the College Democrats, and president of her third-year law school class.

The Equity in Sports Bill passed the Georgia House with only two dissenting votes before gaining unanimous approval in the Senate. It was a remarkable victory, considering worries that the bill might jeopardize high school football. Stuckey was able to calm those fears. A fervent Washington Redskins fan from her days as a D.C. area kid, she assured doubters:

"We're not anti-football. We just want to level the playing field."

Laura Wexler is a former assistant editor of Georgia Magazine.

Links to the past

As a player at Georgia in the 1970s, Yates was All-SEC and an All-America honorable mention.
Danny Yates continues a UGA tradition as captain of the U.S. Walker Cup team

by Rick Franzman (ABJ '75)

Born into the most prolific golfing family in Georgia, Danny Yates was surrounded by the game as a child. "I grew up hearing more than my share of golf stories around home," says Yates (BBA '72), who is the current Walker Cup captain. "And early on, I heard about the Walker Cup because my uncle played in it."

Yates' uncle Charles was the 1938 British Amateur champion and 1953 Walker Cup captain, and he passed the torch to Danny's father, Dan Jr., a Georgia Amateur champion. Danny has won more than a dozen amateur championships himself, becoming one of only two players to win the Georgia Amateur in each of three decades. He has also played on two Walker Cup teams.

It was that record and more than a quarter-century of service to amateur golf that resulted in Yates' selection last year to captain the U.S. Walker Cup team for the 37th renewal of the biennial matches between the U.S. and Great Britain-Ireland. The thrill of last September's Walker Cup experience was tempered only slightly for Yates by the U.S.'s unexpected 15-9 loss in Scotland.

"I am naturally disappointed not to have won," says Yates, " but really it was just terrific to be a part of a tradition that exemplifies what golf is all about."

Yates (in blue windbreaker) and team member Tim Jackson watch last year's Walker Cup action in Scotland, where the U.S. was upset 15-9.
Yates is the latest in a line of UGA golfers who have served as Walker Cup captains. Jimmy Gabrielsen (BBA '63) and Vinny Giles (AB '66) directed winning U.S. efforts in 1981, 1991, and 1993. Gabrielsen led the first two efforts and Giles the last when he captained Yates' final Walker Cup playing appearance.

At Georgia, Yates broke into the starting lineup as a junior, achieving All-SEC and honorable mention All-America status. That summer he qualified for and made the cut at the U.S. Open. Despite his success, Yates says he never thought about playing golf professionally. After college, he joined his father's insurance agency and helped it become a major provider of commercial construction policies and bonds statewide. Arriving at the office by 7 a.m. most mornings, he still found time to keep his golf game sharp by playing the national amateur golf circuit in the summer.

The next Walker Cup competition will be held in August 2001, and this time the match will be played at the new Ocean Forest Golf Club in Sea Island, Ga.—home soil advantage. "It will be a great opportunity to bring the Cup back to the U.S.," says Yates. "Sort of like beating Florida in Jacksonville."

Rick Franzman (ABJ '75) is a freelance writer living in Roswell. A similar story ran in the business college's magazine, Terry, which granted GM reprint rights.

Green thumb

The Bronx Zoo's new Congo Gorilla Forest looks and feels like the real thing, thanks to landscape contractor Larry Shepps

by Bill Glovin

At seven o'clock in the evening, all but a few security guards have gone home, but Larry Shepps and his crew are working furiously to complete the landscape surrounding the Bronx Zoo's new Lakeside Visitor Center. The center's gift shop is scheduled to open by the weekend, so the pressure is on to transform the once barren lot into a rustic setting reminiscent of an Adirondacks forest.

"For the next hundred years, every visitor who enters the Bronx Zoo will funnel through this area," says Shepps (BS '75). "The fact that I was involved in its creation is very satisfying."

Shepps (at right, BS '75) and his crew installed 50-foot trees, some of them extremely thorny, to prevent gorillas from tearing them apart.
Shepps is the founder and principal of Landscape Management Services Ltd., a New York City firm that has become one of the Bronx Zoo's principal contractors for horticulture projects. The zoo's main restaurant, which is the focal point of the 12-acre Lakeside project, is scheduled to open this fall. Before Shepps' crew planted the trees and ferns and laid the mulch for the areas that surround the restaurant, gift shop, and several outdoor dining pavilions, he and his crew helped create the new Congo Gorilla Forest, one of the most innovative zoo exhibits ever built.

Shepps is delighted to show a visitor his contribution to the forest, which seems a million miles away from the Bronx tenements shielded from view by a huge wall. "Most visitors consider the gorillas and mandrills to be the main attraction, but they're more like window dressing," he says. The guts of the lowland tropical rain forest, Shepps points out, are its 15,000 plants representing nearly 400 species. Many have never been grown in the New York area: African tulip trees with garish yellow flowers; African oil palms, which are of great commercial value but whose fruit gorillas avoid because of the high oil content; Ensete, a wild species of banana; and Celtis, Diospyros, and Vitex.

"We used cranes to drop in trees that were 50 feet high, but other times the space was too tight and we needed 15 men to manually lift a tree and move it into position," says Shepps. "Many of the trees are extremely thorny—so that the gorillas and mandrills won't tear them apart. But their thorns made it harder for us to move and plant them, too."

Even the man-made elements, which include artificial trees and 10 miles of fiberglass vines, were designed to create an authentic rain forest experience. That atmosphere is heightened by the chirping of insects, the croaking of frogs and bird calls, as well as rolling mist and fog, 11 waterfalls, four ponds, and four streams. Along the forest trail are underground buildings that contain interactive exhibits, a learning center that stresses habitat conservation, and a theater.

"I wish all my projects were this fun to work on," says Shepps, who recently moved to Irvington, N.Y., with his wife, Janice, and their two daughters. "When the Congo Gorilla Forest was under construction, I used to tell my little girls, 'How many New York dads can say that they go to work every day in a forest?'"

Bill Glovin is assistant editor of Rutgers Magazine.

Rugby's on her mind

Laura Cabrera's goal is to make women's rugby an Olympic sport

by Jennifer Rainey (ABJ '00)

Rugby has been called "the ultimate frat," but Cabrera says women play a more artistic version than men.
Laura Cabrera doesn't have a lot of free time. Between playing for three different women's rugby teams, including the U.S. National Team, studying for her master's degree in physical therapy at the University of Central Arkansas, and working at a local athletic club, she barely has time for this interview.

"I have practices for the club team about four hours a week, but I also have to spend a lot of time training on my own," she says. "And playing on multiple teams can be especially time-consuming." When the highly-ranked U.S. team has a match, Cabrera (BBA '92) has to take time off from school to attend an intensive week-long training session.

"So far, my instructors have been very understanding," she says, "and I've been lucky with my test dates."

A natural athlete, the 31-year-old native of Puerto Rico excels in nearly every sport imaginable—from soccer to waterskiing. But rugby is the sport that's allowed her to live out a childhood dream of representing her country athletically. While playing for the U.S. national team, Cabrera has traveled to Hong Kong and to New Zealand, home of the top-ranked women's rugby team in the world and the Americans' biggest rival.

Cabrera didn't discover her dream sport until she left UGA. After a job as an insurance claims adjuster landed her in Little Rock, she tried out for the Ozark Ladies, a club team. Two years later she was on the Western Territorial Team, and in 1996 she was selected to the U.S. National Team's pool of players. She has been a senior player on the national team for the last two years.

"On the field, Laura is a very driven, take-charge person," says Julie McCoy, coach of the Ozark Ladies and the Western Territorial teams. "You know that when you play our team, you don't kick the ball to Laura Cabrera. She just commands respect."

Cabrera's enthusiasm is contagious. "The first time I saw a rugby match, I thought to myself, 'I can do that,'" she says. "And after my first game, I realized that this is the best sport in the whole world." She hopes that in the future even more people will share her love for the sport.

"Although rugby is gaining popularity in the U.S., it hasn't reached the same level as in other parts of the world," she says. "But they're talking about making women's rugby an Olympic exhibition sport soon. That would be pretty exciting for all of us."

In addition to a lack of fans, female rugby players in the U.S. must also contend with negative stereotypes about the sport. The seeming "win or die" nature of men's rugby has prompted some people to say that women shouldn't participate. But Cabrera maintains that rugby isn't as dangerous as it seems.

"The men tend to be more hostile and violent on the field than the women," she says. "I don't ever think about getting hurt. Women play the sport with more finesse. When everything falls into place, it's like a beautiful work of art on the field."

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