Shortly after the historic Title IX ruling allowed collegiate women to participate in team sports, the University of Iowa had women on the basketball court.
Leading them was the Hawkeyes' first women's basketball coach, Lark Birdsong.
Birdsong was brought on by Dr. Christine Grant, the university's first director of women's intercollegiate athletics and a pioneer in the fight for gender equality in sports.
In the five years Birdsong spent with the team, she helped lay the foundation for the coaches who would lead the program after her, including the legendary C. Vivian Stringer and the current, most winningest coach in program history Lisa Bluder.
For Birdsong, navigating those first years after Title IX took courage and the ability to forge a new path.
"You sometimes just have to begin, and then providence moves too. So, we just began. We didn't have a road map. It hadn't occurred before. We just began and we made things happen," Birdsong said.
Her time at the university is something she and others from her generation can look back on proudly, knowing that they launched the modern era of women's basketball.
"A lot of the players from my era are very dedicated to the University of Iowa and have contributed financially, emotionally, their time. So, I'm proud that people began and they didn't have to have a road map. We just figured it out as we went," Birdsong said.
In addition to Dr. Grant, Birdsong also credits Peggy Burke and Bonnie Slatton as driving forces in the fight for equality and incredible advocates for women's sports.