Though she came of age in her sport in the 1980s, Jasna Rather didn’t owe her opportunities to Title IX. Born in a country then known as Yugoslavia, the former Jasna Fazlić worked through the club sport system in place there. Though boys had more opportunities, top female athletes could stay involved in sport, and Jasna had a special advantage: a supportive family.
“My older sister played and my uncle was the coach,” Jasna emailed us. “My parents were the best examples of what parents should be. They never put emphasis on results. They would make sure we had good food and good living conditions, drove us to events, and would be there for us. Love is what I received a lot from all around me and I am so lucky for that.”
She excelled at table tennis, and earned an Olympic berth as a teenager.
“In Seoul 1988, I was only 17 and had no expectations,” she said. She brought home a bronze medal from the 1988 Seoul games. She participated in the Games three more times, two as a member of the U.S. team after she immigrated.
Jasna has since won six U.S. national championships, including two in women’s singles, three in women’s doubles, and a mixed doubles crown. She also won three collegiate singles titles. Those came at Fort Worth’s Texas Wesleyan University, where she arrived in the second year of the program, 2002, to earn her Master’s Degree in Education. She played there for six seasons, taking advantage of a since-eliminated rule allowing faculty/staff to participate as players on the school team. She became the Rams’ co-head coach with Mike Evans in 2006-07 before taking the program’s reins by herself in 2018. Jasna has guided the team to extraordinary success, helping the school earn more than 70 individual and team national championships as a player and coach. In the most recent competition, held in 2019 (the pandemic cancelled 2020 and 2021), Wesleyan won the co-ed and women’s team titles along with men’s singles and doubles. They’ll go for more as one of the top-rated teams at the NCTTA National Championships in Round Rock this weekend.
Equal genders opportunities are needed in places where they are missing.
- Jasna Rather
The USA Table Tennis Hall of Famer knows firsthand how women can benefit from the sorts of opportunities Title IX has encouraged, and she urges women to seize those chances even in the face of resistance.
In the spirit of providing equal sporting opportunities, Jasna has embraced another underserved cohort.
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