Books in the Barn: “Break Point: Two Minnesota Athletes & the Road to Title IX”
The Anderson Center’s Books in the Barn series welcomes Sheri Brenden, author of Break Point: Two Minnesota Athletes and the Road to Title IX in a conversation with her sister, Peg Brenden, one of the St. Cloud student athletes behind the groundbreaking 1972 federal court case that took on the unequal system of school athletics nationwide, in the Tower View Barn on Thursday, November 16, 2023 at 7:00 p.m. This event is happening in partnership with the Minnesota Humanities Center and their Minnesota Writers Series. Register for free in advance here.
In Break Point: Two Minnesota Athletes and the Road to Title IX (University of Minnesota Press, 2022), Sheri Brenden examines how two teenage girls in Minnesota jump-started a revolution in high school athletics Peggy Brenden, a senior, played tennis. Toni St. Pierre, a junior, was a cross country runner and skier. All these two talented teenagers wanted was a chance to compete on their high school sports teams. But in Minnesota in 1972 the only way on the field with the boys ran through a federal court–so that was where the girls went. Break Point tells the story, for the first time, of how two teenagers took on the unequal system of high school athletics, setting a legal precedent for schools nationwide before the passage of Title IX.
As Peggy’s younger sister, author Sheri Brenden is uniquely positioned to convey the human drama of the case, the stakes, and the consequences for two young women facing the legal machinery of the state, in court and in school. In an account that begins with Peggy painstakingly typing her appeal to the Minnesota Civil Liberties Union and concludes with a long view of what Brenden v. Independent School District 742 set in motion, Sheri Brenden summons the salient details of this landmark case as it makes its way through the courts. Peggy and Toni, coaches, administrators, and experts testify before Judge Miles Lord, whose decision, upheld in a precedent-setting appeal, would change these girls’ lives and open up athletic opportunities for innumerable others. Grounded in newspaper coverage, court records, and interviews, Brenden’s deeply researched, scrupulously reported book is at heart the story of two talented teenage girls whose pluck and determination–and, often, heartache–led to a victory much greater than any high school championship.
Praise for Break Point by Sheri Brenden:
“This engaging and meticulously researched book gives readers insight into a crucial milestone in the history of women’s sports: a 1972 federal court decision that changed the lives of two Minnesota high-school girls and paved the way for future generations to fully participate in sports. Those two young women, Peg Brenden and Toni St. Pierre, believed they shouldn’t have to sit on the sidelines, and they challenged the naysayers and courageously fought for gender equity across the sports world. We are forever in their debt.” —Mary Jo Kane, director emerita, Tucker Center for Research on Girls & Women in Sport, University of Minnesota
Books in the Barn is a two-part reading series, sponsored by the Xcel Energy Foundation, that offers a wide-ranging look at the work of contemporary writers. Books will be available for purchase and signing following each reading, courtesy of Fair Trade Books. Featured authors are also participating in outreach events in the Red Wing community, providing further opportunities to share their work with a broader audience.
This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund.