Following is an excerpt from the Apple Day convocation speech delivered March 5 by Sunny Pierce, physical education teacher at Girard (Kan.) High School and longtime women's athletics coach.
"Some of my greatest joys have been through my experiences here at Pittsburg State University. At PSU I was given opportunity for a great education so I could live out my dreams of serving others by teaching and coaching.
Today we celebrate women's athletics at Pittsburg State. I am thankful to have been a part of all of it.
I grew up loving to play sports. I would beg my brothers and their friends to let me play. I would dream of 'playing for real,' and would play imaginary games, and win imaginary championships.
One day in middle school my PE teacher told us about legislation called Title IX that would provide opportunities for girls in sports. It seemed like she looked right at me and said, "This could change your life forever." My senior year of high school, we had our first girls basketball team. I came to PSU and continued to play.
Women today have something that we did not always have: opportunity. I would challenge and encourage today's women in sports to not take your opportunity lightly. Embrace it. If I thought our women athletes weren't going to class or weren't practicing or performing with their best effort, I would go to the Weede, hide around a corner, jump out, and thunk them on the head. I'd take their uniform, and play in their place if I thought they did not appreciate the opportunity they have. I would trade places with you in a heartbeat to play the game again.
As a young girl, I dreamed of putting on a red & gold uniform and playing the game of basketball. My dreams came true. Today, I still dream. I dream of our Gorilla women playing in a 'packed house' at John Lance Arena. I dream of us winning another MIAA championship - a national championship.
I believe in a place where these dreams become reality. I believe that this is that place.
Sunny Pierce (BSED '79) was a standout player with the PSU women's basketball team from 1977-79. She still holds the record for the most points scored (39) in a single game.