news-category: Title IX 50th Anniversary

Gardner-Webb Celebrates Title IX 50th Anniversary

Title IX graphic

Recognizing Top Women Athletes, Kat Ayotte and Kathy Smith Brooks

To our readers: In 1972, Title IX of the Education Amendments was signed into law by President Richard Nixon. In a year-long celebration of the law’s 50th anniversary, Gardner-Webb will recognize its individual pioneers and trailblazers, women influencers and administrators, and honor several teams and alumni groups at games and events on campus. Profiles on these women will be published in the Newscenter twice a month.

BOILING SPRINGS, N.C.—Gardner-Webb’s first women’s athletics teams predate Title IX by many decades, going back to the early 1900s when the institution was a boarding school known as Boiling Springs High. The school first fielded a tennis team in 1913 and a basketball team in 1916.

Programs also appeared in the 1920s for soccer, softball and volleyball. Gardner-Webb Junior College briefly fielded women’s basketball from 1956-1959 under head coach Hester Haynes. Gardner-Webb transitioned to senior college status following the 1968-1969 season, joining the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA). Following the passage of Title IX in 1972, the Bulldogs’ athletics program moved into a new era when women’s basketball started competition during the 1975-1976 season.

Here are two hall-of-famers recognized by Gardner-Webb athletics:

Kat Ayotte
Kat Ayotte

Kat Ayotte

Kat Ayotte was inducted into the Gardner-Webb Athletics Hall of Fame in 2008. She was an All-South Atlantic Conference choice in both soccer and softball. She finished her career as one of the top female two-sport performers in school history. Ayotte is an associate athletic trainer at Gardner-Webb. Her primary responsibilities are coverage of baseball and men’s and women’s golf. She joined GW in 2003 after serving Newberry College as head athletic trainer. She earned her Bachelor of Science and Master of Arts from Gardner-Webb.

Kathy Smith Brooks
Kathy Smith Brooks

Kathy Smith Brooks

In 2010, Kathy Smith Brooks became the first volleyball player to be inducted into the Gardner-Webb Athletics Hall of Fame. Playing from 1994 to 1997, Brooks powered the Runnin’ Bulldogs to 58 wins in her final two seasons. She was the first player in GWU volleyball history to earn first-team All-South Atlantic Conference honors twice, and Brooks finished her four seasons with over 800 kills and 400 blocks. As a junior in 1996, she was named Gardner-Webb’s Female Student-Athlete of the Year and led the South Atlantic Conference in blocks per game. That season, she led GWU to a 27-10 finish, an 11-3 league mark and a second-place finish in the regular season standings. As a senior in 1997, the Lincolnton, N.C., native was the strength of a team that finished 31-7 overall, posted a 13-1 conference record and won both the SAC regular season and tournament titles. Brooks also paced the league with a .355 hitting percentage. A testament to her impact on the program, Gardner-Webb had only one season in its history with more than 11 wins before her arrival on campus.

#GWUHerStory Submission Form

Help us tell the Title IX story by sharing your experiences. We want to recognize and celebrate our alumni, faculty, staff, and students who have been impacted by the Title IX law and the opportunities and experiences it has provided and protected.

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Gardner-Webb University is North Carolina’s recognized leader in private, Christian higher education. A Carnegie-Classified Doctoral/Professional University, GWU is home to six professional schools, 14 academic departments, more than 80 undergraduate and graduate majors, and a world-class faculty. Located on a beautiful 225-acre campus in Boiling Springs, N.C., Gardner-Webb prepares graduates to impact their chosen professions, equips them with the skills to advance the frontiers of knowledge, and inspires them to make a positive and lasting difference in the lives of others. Ignite your future at

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