UCLA's Title IX 40: Florence Griffith-Joyner, Liz Masakayan
Aug. 14, 2012
UCLA Athletics continues its celebration of the 40th Anniversary of Title IX with a series of profiles of UCLA's Title IX 40. This group of 40 Bruin women were game-changers in the Title IX era. Next up are NCAA champions and Olympians Florence Griffith-Joyner and Liz Masakayan.
Florence Griffith-Joyner, Track & Field (1981-83)
(1981-83) Nicknamed Flo Jo, Florence Griffith-Joyner is simply the greatest sprinter in the history of women's track & field, setting world records in both the 100m and 200m and winning five Olympic medals, including three gold.
Her track career began to blossom while at UCLA as a part of national championship teams in 1982 and 1983. As a junior in 1982, Flo Jo won the NCAA 200m (22.39), and as a senior, she won the NCAA 400m, setting an NCAA record at the time with a 50.94.
On the Bruin all-time charts, her 100m time of 11.06 is No. 2, and her times of 22.23 (collegiate record) in the 200m and 50.94 in the 400m rank No. 1.
Known for her flamboyant running outfits and stylish fingernails and hair, Flo Jo's potential first shone through on a global stage at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, where she won a silver medal in the 200m.
In 1988, she made the world take notice of women's sprinting. At the U.S. Olympic Trials in Indianapolis, she set the world record in the 100m (10.49). Two months later, at the Olympic Games in Seoul, she won golds in the 100m (10.54w) and 200m (21.34, setting her second world-record), anchored the winning U. S. 4x100m relay team (41.98), and won a silver medal in the U. S. 4x400m relay.
Following her track career, Flo Jo served on the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports and worked with the American Cancer Society, the Multiple Sclerosis Foundation and the Osteoporosis Business Coalition. She was also the co-founder of the Florence Griffith-Joyner Youth Foundation. Flo Jo was married to Al Joyner, the brother of Bruin great Jackie Joyner Kersee and a 1984 Olympic gold medalist in the triple jump. Al Joyner coached the UCLA women's jumpers for two seasons from 2000-02.
Flo Jo was inducted into the U.S. Track & Field Hall of Fame in 1995. On Sept. 21, 1998, two weeks before her induction into the UCLA Athletics Hall of Fame, Florence Griffith Joyner died suddenly of a seizure at the age of 38.
The March 2002 issue of Ebony selected Flo Jo as one of the Top 10 Greatest African-American Women Athletes of all-time, and Sports Illustrated chose her as the No. 6 Athlete of the Title IX Era.
Liz Masakayan, Volleyball (1982-85)
Blessed with a combination of speed, power and grace with elite-level serving, digging and spiking, Liz Masakayan is one of the greatest women's volleyball players in history.
A four-year UCLA standout, Masakayan led UCLA to its first-ever NCAA team championship as a junior in 1984 with a dominating 32-kill, 24-dig performance in the final match against Stanford. She went on to earn first-team All-America honors as a junior and senior, and at the conclusion of the 1985-86 school year, she was named the UCLA Female Athlete of the Year. Masakayan's No. 21 uniform number is retired, and in 1997 she was named one of the 25 Greatest Players in UCLA women's volleyball history.
Following her collegiate career, Masakayan was a member of the USA indoor national team from 1986-90 and represented the U. S. at the 1986 and 1990 World Championships and at the 1988 Olympics in Seoul.
Making the transition from indoor to beach volleyball in 1993, Masakayan joined with Karolyn Kirby to form the winningest team in WPVA history. From 1993 to 1995, Masakayan-Kirby won 29 beach tournaments, including 26 on the WPVA tour, and three on the Federation of International Volleyball (FIVB) circuit. A 1994 World Champion, Masakayan was named the FIVB's World's Most Outstanding Player that year. She was also the WPVA's 1992 MVP and 1993 co-MVP and the Best Defensive Player in 1991 and 1992. In addition, she was the 1993 and 1994 Best Hitter.
From 1997-2000, Masakayan and another Bruin great, Elaine Youngs (1988-92), joined to become one of the top teams on the Association of Volleyball Professionals (AVP) and FIVB tours, with a total of nine victories. In 2001, Masakayan partnered with Dianne DeNecochea to be the Santa Barbara champions (her last win) and captured the bronze medal at the FIVB season finale in Fortaleza, Brazil, at which Masakayan announced her retirement from international competition.
During her 14-year beach volleyball career, Masakayan won 47 tournaments, with career net winnings of nearly $700,000. Making her athletic accomplishments even more impressive is the fact that throughout her indoor and outdoor careers, Masakayan fought through chronic knee problems. She underwent a total of seven knee operations, including procedures on both knees, before ending her career.
Masakayan has also had major success as a coach, guiding UCLA to a NCAA title as an assistant coach in 1991. She also coached a pair of Olympic beach volleyball teams - 2004 bronze medalists Holly McPeak/Elaine Youngs and 2008 Olympians McPeak/Nicole Branagh.
Previous Title IX 40 Profiles
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