In high school, Linda “Lindy” Vivas ’75 was taking full advantage of the girls sports that were offered at the time. The quintessential athlete, Vivas was a four-year letter winner in basketball and softball with three varsity letters in volleyball.
But it’s her contribution to women’s athletics beyond Punahou that has had a lasting impact. “When I went to college I discovered that women’s sports were not always as welcomed or as valued as they were at Punahou,” she says.
After a decorated volleyball career at the University of Southern California and playing in professional leagues, Vivas moved to the coaching ranks, where she built a career of nurturing opportunities for women in sports.
Her name is now synonymous with Title IX, after winning $5.85 million from a federal court in 2007 in what is believed to be the largest award ever to a coach suing for retaliation under the federal gender equity law.
Despite numerous coaching awards and a 263-137 record that made Vivas the coach with the most wins in Fresno State’s history, she was fired in 2004 for what she says was retaliation for voicing concerns over the school’s lack of compliance with Title IX. “It was a pretty difficult situation there,” she says, “but I think that along the way these types of things have to be done in order for progress to be made.”
Female athletes and many of Vivas’ coaching colleagues celebrated the ruling as a victory for women in sports. “It had national ramifications, hopefully all positive,” she says.
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