BANGOR — With March being the 50th anniversary of Title IX, which changed the realm of education and athletics beginning in June of 1972, the Maine Basketball Hall of Fame announced its plan to begin to further spotlight the sports accomplishments of girls and women from the Pine Tree State.

In a press conference via Zoom on Friday, March 25, spearheaded by former Mount View High School athletic stalwart Emily Ellis, the MBHOF announced its latest project to collect, preserve and share stories of girls and women throughout the state.

The hope is those stories will show how far Title IX has come over the past half century. And, how far it still has to go in efforts to gain equality.

“If at some point we stop celebrating Title IX, that will be a good thing,” Ellis said. “Because at that point, we have equality for everyone to be able to play and have the same opportunities.”

Title IX states: “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.”

Ellis, the first female 1,000-point scorer at Mount View High School in 1981, continued her basketball career at the University of Maine in Orono, where she became the first female player to have her jersey retired by the Black Bears. She went on to play professional basketball in Finland and Austria and now is a real estate developer.

In the early 1980s, Ellis also was at the forefront of some of the changes enacted in women’s sports due to Title IX.

“In today’s world, it is much more apparent and understood that we want the same opportunities for our daughters as we do our sons,” said Ellis, a 2015 Maine Basketball Hall of Fame inductee and current member of organization’s board of directors. “But, that was not the case 50 years ago and I can tell you that from my own personal experience.”

In 1972, Ellis was 10 years old and forced to sit on the sidelines as she watched her male classmates participate in the B.U.M (Brooks, Unity, Monroe) League. She was not permitted to play organized basketball until seventh grade.

“The struggle of waiting to get to play fueled a fire in me that burns still today,” she said. “It allowed me to secure a free education at Maine, go see the world and do hard things in my professional life. I owe a lot to basketball and Title IX.”

Ellis went on to share a story about her mother’s experience playing six-on-six high school basketball, which further exemplifies how far the movement has brought women’s sports.

Then, the game was played with three forwards and three guards. Three players remained on the defensive end of the floor for rebounding, while the other three stayed on the offensive side of the court.

“The rover was the only one allowed to run the full court, because, you know, women were too weak to do that,” Ellis said facetiously. “[My mom] finally got to play offense her senior year and scored over 500 points.”

The story of Ellis’ mother is one of hundreds the MBHOF looks to preserve in hopes they do not die on the vine.

“Our initial goal is to collect as many stories as we can and disperse it as wide as possible,” said Beth Staples, MBHOF secretary.

The MBHOF invites females of all ages to share stories and memories — from playing six-on-six to coaching USA Basketball, and from officiating middle-school games to reporting on college contests.

“The input from our surveys will serve as a marker for where we are today,” said Ellis.

Those stories can be shared by filling out a survey on the MBHOF website, where they will be displayed and in a booklet the MBHOF hopes to unveil at their annual ceremony in August.

The organization also hopes to perhaps “celebrate Title IX on our concourse [at the Cross Insurance Center] with these stories,” and to “share some of the highlights that we’ve garnered from the surveys we’ve received back,” said Staples.

And, perhaps, with more significant dreams of a women’s wing down the road.

To participate in the survey and share a story, go to mainebasketballhalloffame.com/celebrating-title-ix/or click here.