June 21, 2012
By Ryan Maurer
Springfield, Ohio — Sheila Simon, Wittenberg University class of 1983, broke new ground during her collegiate career as a student-athlete. Her achievements, both as an All-American high jumper and as a lawyer who has risen to the position of Lt. Governor of the state of Illinois, are being celebrated by the Chicago Sky of the Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA) throughout the 2012 season.
Simon is one of nine members of the Sky's Honorary Title IX Team, which was created as part of the league's celebration of the 40-year anniversary of passage of the landmark Education Amendments Act. Members of the team will be introduced during a pre-game reception and on-court recognition ceremony on Aug. 17 at the Women of Inspiration – Celebrating the 40th Anniversary of Title IX Game.
Simon kicked off the celebration by declaring Wednesday, June 20, 2012, as "Title IX Day" in Illinois in honor of the legislation's 40th anniversary and its impact on women and girls throughout the United States. Enacted on June 23, 1972, Title IX banned discrimination on the basis of sex in any federally funded school in the country, in the process opening new academic and employment opportunities to women.
Title IX is best known for its impact on women's athletics, and Simon benefited from the legislation's passage a decade later. Simon won the high jump at the Association of Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (AIAW) national meet in 1982 before finishing third in the same event and becoming Wittenberg's first women's track and field All-American at the first-ever NCAA Division III championship meet in 1983. She continues to hold school records in both the indoor and outdoor high jump events.
President of Wittenberg's Student Senate, the university's student governing body, and the recipient of the prestigious M. Alice Geiger Award for outstanding contributions to the university community, Simon graduated summa cum laude and received a coveted NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship in 1983. She went on to earn her J.D. from Georgetown University and served as a clinical associate professor of law at Southern Illinois University. She was elected lieutenant governor in Illinois in 2010.
Simon was joined by Chicago Sky Head Coach and General Manager Pokey Chatman and Sky players Ruth Riley and Swin Cash, both Olympic gold medal-winners, at Wednesday's event.
"Today we celebrate how far we have come in the 40 years since Title IX enactment, but this should serve as a reminder for how much more we need to do," Simon said. "We will be able to truly celebrate when all students, no matter their zip codes, have the opportunity to excel on and off the field."