Quick Links





Celebrating the inspirational individuals and landmark moments in the history of Title IX, and continuing to grow the educational and competitive opportunities for the future. Learn more HERE.

What is Title IX?: The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) enforces, among other statutes, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. Title IX protects people from discrimination based on sex in education programs or activities that receive federal financial assistance. Title IX states:

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.
Learn more HERE.

Prior to the passage of Title IX, Alice Sullivan had already been passionately advocating for the addition of girls athletics to the Rhode Island Interscholastic League. A longtime teacher and administrator in East Providence, R.I., she organized a group of fellow female physical education teachers in the 1960s that began holding intramural playdays for girls, along with workshops and officials clinics under the umbrella of the Rhode Island Division of Girls and Women’s Sports.

In 1972, Rhode Island’s Principals’ Committee on Athletics appointed Sullivan as the RIIL’s coordinator of girls’ athletics. She later became the league’s first assistant executive director and served the RIIL for 24 years before retiring in 1996. She remained a staunch supporter of girls athletics until her death in November 2003 at the age of 78, paving the way for today’s female athletes who now have the opportunity to choose from 15 girls sports in the RIIL.

Sara DeCosta-Hayes was a goalie on the 1998 U.S. Olympic Women’s Hockey Team that captured the first Olympic gold medal in their sport’s history with a victory over Canada in Nagano, Japan. Inducted with her team into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame, she was in net for three Team USA victories, including one shutout, posting a 1.59 goals-against average and a .875 save percentage.

The USA Hockey Women’s Player of the Year in 2000 and 2002, DeCosta-Hayes was also a member of the U.S. team that took silver at the 2002 Winter Games, where she owned the best goals-against average (1.01) and save percentage (.948), recording 26 saves in Team USA’s 3-2 loss to Canada in the title game.

The Warwick, RI native had already made history six years earlier when in 1992 she became the first girl to play in the R.I. Interscholastic League Championship Division as a member of the Toll Gate High School boys hockey team. Twice named her team's MVP (1995 and '96), the All-Stater’s outstanding play in net helped Toll Gate become the first public school in 14 years to reach the best-of-three title round, when the Titans faced perennial power Mount St. Charles Academy for the 1996 RIIL State Championship.

Also a two-time All-Stater in softball, DeCosta-Hayes helped Toll Gate capture the 1995 and 1996 Division I Slow-pitch Championships. She was also an All-City selection in soccer.

In 2009, she co-founded a statewide girls hockey league, the Rhode Island Sting, with Olympic teammate, Vicki Movsessian Lamoriello.


Cranston High School West sophomore Patricia Voccola was crowned the champion of Rhode Island’s first official girls’ interscholastic event when she won the Rhode Island Interscholastic League Girls State Individual Golf Tournament, June 21, 1971 at Exeter Country Club.

The tourney was organized after the Cranston (RI) School Committee petitioned the Principals’ Committee on Athletics on Voccola’s behalf, requesting a waiver of the RIIL rule limiting Interscholastic League competition to male competitors. The PCOA granted the request and the golf tournament was held. According to PCOA meeting minutes, schools were allowed to enter “one contestant plus an alternate” with a fee of $5 per entry. The 15-year-old Voccola beat out three other competitors for the golf title, which she successfully defended the following year.

The RIIL offered six additional sports for girls - cross country, basketball, field hockey, gymnastics, outdoor track and volleyball - for the 1971-72 school year. Fifty years later, the league now offers 15 girls sports, which also include soccer, tennis, competition cheerleading, ice hockey, indoor track and field, swimming, lacrosse and fast-pitch softball.

Arguably Maine’s greatest all-time basketball player, Cindy Blodgett of Lawrence High School in Fairfield became the gold standard for excellence to those in the state. She led the Bulldogs to a four-year career record of 84-4 with four Maine Principals’ Association (MPA) Class A Girls State Basketball titles.  Check out Blodgett’s Title IX Milestone on NFHS.org to learn more about her legacy, impact and career! #TitleIXat50
Read all Title IX Milestones here.