Title IX: Woman coaches for stepfather's softball organization after inspiring him to include girls

ESPN inaugurating newly refurbished softball field in South Shore
CHICAGO (WLS) -- It's been 50 years since the signing of Title IX.

That's the civil rights law that prohibits sex-based discrimination in any school or educational program receiving federal financial assistance.

In celebration, ESPN is inaugurating a newly refurbished softball field in Chicago's South Shore neighborhood.

"It was more than a sport because I wasn't much of an athlete, it was my way to get out of the house and meet new people," said Lost Boyz Coach and Successful Youth Leader Marilyn Dixon.

Dixon was 9 years old when she first started playing softball.

"My daddy had his baseball organization so I said let me get into softball. And that's how I started playing," she said.

Her stepfather, Lavonte Stewart runs the Lost Boyz softball program. The group uses the power of sport to encourage positive social change in young people. But it was Marilyn that inspired him to allow girls to play.

"Being a girl dad, I said maybe we'll have to develop something. So Lost Girlz was kind of born then," said Lost Boyz Founding Executive Director LaVonte Stewart Sr.

Marilyn went on to play softball all four years of high school. And now, at 19 years old, she's giving back as a Lost Girlz coach and a Successful Youth Leader.

"So for me as a coach, for what I went through when I was playing, I had a fun experience. So I make it fun for them and make them want to bring people and make them come out, because you never know what someone is going through at home," she said.

And now, the girls get to play on a new refurbished field made possible by the global nonprofit love.futbol and ESPN.

"Representation matters for young African-American girls to see them in the sport with a single-digit participating rate," Stewart Sr. said. "We just want to encourage young black girls around Chicago that they have a place in this sport."

"I'm proud of myself because I feel like i did something in my neighborhood// Seeing how far we came and seeing girls in major leagues and stuff like that it makes me feel happy because we're finally getting what we deserve," Dixon said.

Marilyn currently attends Chicago State University, but she plans to transfer to UIC to play softball there. She's also super busy co-running her own concession business called Hot Girlz Grills.
Copyright © 2022 WLS-TV. All Rights Reserved.