Title IX at 50: Nancy Kamstra, Swimming

Nancy Kamstra poses for a portrait
Nancy Kamstra, Hope College professor

Editor’s Note: On June 23, 1972, a federal civil rights law was passed that prohibited sex-based discrimination by any educational institution that receives federal funding. Title IX also gave girls and women the equal opportunity to compete in sports across the country. To commemorate the anniversary, Hope College Athletics shares memories and perspectives from Hope College student-athletes, coaches, and alumnae.

In our 11th and final installment, we hear from Nancy Kamstra ’82, a faculty member of the Hope College Department of Kinesiology who as a student was a member of the college’s inaugural swimming and diving teams. Kamstra also ran on the Hope’s cross country team. After graduating from Hope, Kamstra taught in Zeeland Public Schools for 28 years before returning to Hope in 2010 to develop a health minor that involved creating new courses to meet state standards to certify students to teach health in grades 6–12. Kamstra holds a master’s degree in Education from Grand Valley State University and a bachelor’s degree in physical education and special education from Hope.

Check out our Title IX profile series

What are some of your favorite memories from being a student-athlete at Hope and being a founding member of the swimming and diving program?

The fall of my freshman year I came to Hope and the Dow Center was a brand new building with a brand new natatorium!  We also had this young swim coach from California. He was supposed to be really good and he was and still is today! I was kind of nervous, but super excited. We didn’t have many girls on our team, but we were so honored to be the first swim team at Hope! Since Coach (John) Patnott coached both teams, we had workouts with the guys team too. I do remember them being so hard! The relationships, the hard work, the memories and life lessons are all powerful takeaways from my time as a student-athlete at Hope.

How did you discover you wanted to have a career in education, particularly health education?

I have wanted to be a teacher since I was in middle school. I knew this was God’s plan for my life. I loved the idea of physical education and health because this is an area that is so important! Being active and healthy is so important for all ages. I knew that I could help my students make better choices and that was powerful. Coming to Hope to teach students how to teach health and physical education has been such an amazing opportunity and journey. As a former longtime public school educator, to have the opportunity to teach the next generation of teachers and leaders is simply an honor.

What does Title IX mean to you today?

Title IX has provided so many opportunities for female student athletes!  It is so inspirational to see the growth of women’s sports at Hope College and the accomplishments of our female student-athletes.  When I look back at where our first women’s swimming and diving team started in the fall of 1978 until now, it is so exciting. Women in athletics deserve the same opportunities!

What is your hope for female student-athletes for the next 50 years?

My hope for female student-athletes at Hope in the next 50 years is that they will have the memories and experiences that I had as they move into life after competitive sport. I treasure the friends and relationships I made in the swimming pool and running cross country. The life lessons that athletics taught me have made me a better wife, mother, friend, teacher and person.  My coach taught me how to work hard and that anything is possible. For Hope student-athletes for the next 50 years, I hope that they continue to have the transformational experiences and success that Hope College Athletics is known for throughout the country. 

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