UNCG Campus Weekly

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Former ‘World’s Strongest Woman’ Speaks at April 23 Symposium

Dr. Jan Todd, a professor at the University of Texas at Austin and former holder of more than 60 national and world records in women’s power lifting, will speak at the second annual UNCG Girls in Sport Symposium on Friday, April 23.

The symposium was slated for Feb. 5, but has been rescheduled due to inclement weather.

Sponsored by the Department of Kinesiology and Center for Women’s Health and Wellness, the symposium, 7:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. in Alumni House, will help teachers, coaches and recreation professionals promote the positive development of girls and young women through physical activity.

Until April 21, the cost is $15 for students and $25 for others. After April 21, the cost rises to $35 for all attendees. The registration form is online at www.uncg.edu/kin/girls_in_sport_symposium/girls-in-sport-registration-form.pdf.

In addition to Todd’s address debunking myths about women and strength, the symposium will feature remarks from several other experts and a panel of coaches. More information about the symposium is available at http://www.uncg.edu/kin/girls_in_sport_symposium/index.html.

Despite Title IX, the birth of the WNBA and widespread agreement about the benefits of weight training, many continue to view physically strong women as an undesirable aberration, Todd says. This bias can be found in the lack of coverage of women’s field events in the Olympics, the dearth of research on women and strength, and especially among the thousands of women who claim they want to be toned but not muscular, she says.

Todd will analyze four central myths about women and strength: women are physiologically “inferior;” women can’t gain strength as men do; women and men need different kinds of exercise; and the possession of muscle and strength is somehow “masculine.” She brings to her subject a wealth of academic and competitive experience.

The Roy J. McLean Fellow in Sport History, she is a professor in the Department of Kinesiology and Health Education at UT Austin, teaching classes in sport history, sport philosophy, and sport and ethics. She and her husband, Terry Todd, are the founders and co-directors of the university’s H.J. Lutcher Stark Center for Physical Culture and Sports, as well as the founders and co-editors of Iron Game History: The Journal of Physical Culture.

She has written two books – “Physical Culture and the Body Beautiful: Purposive Exercise in the Lives of American Women” (1998) and, with her husband, “Lift Your Way to Youthful Fitness” (1985) – and more than 100 articles in popular and scholarly journals.

Her interest in the academic study of sport and exercise grew from her personal involvement in power lifting. In the 1970s and early 1980s, when she set world records in five bodyweight classes, she was considered by Sports Illustrated and the Guinness Book of Records to be the “strongest woman in the world.” She was worked into the National Fitness Hall of Fame in March for her work as a pioneering athlete and educator.

Other symposium speakers and their topics include:

• Dr. Jennifer Etnier (Kinesiology) will discuss psychological issues related to coaching girls in sport and physical activity.

• Pam Noakes (National Association for Girls and Women in Sport) will provide an update on Title IX and the status of girls and women in sport.

• DeAnne Brooks (Kinesiology) will address considerations and implications when coaching girls and female athletes from different cultural backgrounds.

• Ashley Thomas (Bridges II Sports) with Dr. Leandra Bedini and Kim Miller (Recreation, Tourism and Hospitality Management) will present: “I Want to Play! Adaptive Sports … a Viable Option.”

• A panel of coaches will address successful strategies for coaching and teaching girls.