ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Peg Brenden is a workers compensation judge for the state of Minnesota, but her biggest case came nearly 40 years ago when she fought the state to play on her high school boys' tennis team.
"I am very proud of the part I played in moving women's athletics forward," says Brenden.
A standout tennis player at St. Cloud Tech high school, before Title IX, her high school had only a boys' tennis team. So she wrote a letter to the American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota asking them to help her convince the state to allow her to play with the boys. It was a simple idea that went much farther than she'd ever imagined.
"We were very mind-mannered Norwegian Lutheran family," Brenden says, "So the idea of a lawsuit was way outside of our frontier."
The case was fought and won after she graduated, but she paved the way for others like former Gophers standout Dagney Willey who played defense on the boys' hockey team at Osseo.
"Thankfully, there were those people in the 70s and 80s so that it was easy for me," Willey said. "I definitely appreciate my development."
Brenden says she still has a following, like with middle school kids who are doing history projects.
"While I'm not as big a name as Ophelia Gibson or Patty Berg, I do have the advantage that I am still alive and they can call me."
(Copyright 2011 by KARE. All Rights Reserved.)