Lancer Girls

Members of the Lancer Girls’ Track and Field team cheer on female athletes during the filming of Rita Ora’s “Finish Line” music video. (Screenshot from YouTube)

When sophomore Allyson Copeland of La Salle College Preparatory High School’s Lancer Girls Track and Field team was asked to participate in the filming of a music video to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Title IX, she felt inspired.

“We got the opportunity to play the role of fans cheering the track team on,” Copeland said. “I think all of us walked away from the experience feeling inspired to keep pushing for women’s equality, especially in sports.”

Copeland, 15, along with five other female teammates filmed “Finish Line” by recording artist Rita Ora at the high school. It was part of ESPN’s Fifty/50 Initiative of Title IX, a federal civil rights law prohibiting sex-based discrimination in educational institutions that receive federal funding, and provided women an equal opportunity to play sports. The law was passed on June 23, 1972.

“Even though the fight for equality has come a long way, we still have more work to do,” Copeland said. “The message behind the video is that each generation gets a new issue to take on concerning women’s rights and we need to continue the race to end gender inequality until we reach the finish line.”

Joe Blackman, head coach for the Lancer Girls Track and Field team, saw the music video as an opportunity for his athletes to highlight their role in sports. He also noted the high school was once an all-boys school until the 1991-1992 academic year.

“Once the school went co-ed, we developed our school sports program,” Blackman said, who began coaching at the school in 1995. “(The music video) gives all of us a chance to reflect on the successes that women and girls have had in athletics and is an inspiration for them to continue their athletic career.”

Blackman said last season, the 35 member girls track and field team competed in the Del Rey League and won the championship. The team also placed sixth out of 165 schools at the division championships. Eleven of the girls also qualified for the California Interscholastic Federation division level and three competed at division finals, including Mia Reid, a junior who set a new school record in the 100-meter hurdles by over half a second. Copeland also qualified for league finals in the 400-meter and 4x4 relay races.

“Del Rey has the toughest competition in Southern California,” Blackman said. “The division has the top track programs and it’s a big deal for our girls to win the league championship.”

This past season, the girls track and field team set six new top 10 performances in the school’s history.

“The girls on the team are a good example of being trailblazers that have helped them along the path of what they can achieve today,” Blackman said. “Athletics in general are such positive experiences for girls and all athletes to learn life lessons that improve their lives overall.”

Copeland encourages girls and women to participate in sports for many benefits.

“Not only does playing a sport keep you in shape physically, it can help keep you in shape mentally,” Copeland said. “It’s also a great way to build strong relationships with teammates and friends and it’s always so inspiring to see more women in sports.”

Blackman echoed Copeland. “Go for it! If there’s something you’re interested in, don’t worry if you’ve ever done it or not, there are opportunities for all (ages),” Blackman said. “You get to meet a lot of new people along the way and it’s a fantastic experience.”