Ginny Gilder, an Olympic rower, was part of the historic "strip-in" at Yale in 1976.

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Pooling funds in 2008 with three other Seattle businesswomen to purchase the Storm from Oklahoma businessmen wasn’t the first time philanthropist and investment entrepreneur Ginny Gilder stood up for what was right.

Gilder, an Olympic rower, was part of the historic “strip-in” at Yale in 1976. Four years after the passage of Title IX, the women’s crew team didn’t have facilities equal to the men. The women marched into the director of women’s sports office with “TITLE IX” inked on their chests, and when denied again equal facilities, bared all as a New York Times reporter chronicled the event.

“We weren’t thinking of making history or anything else — I was 17,” Gilder told her alumni magazine in 2011 after winning her first WNBA title as an owner. “What I remember is feeling I would have done almost anything if (captain) Chris Ernst had told me, because I really believed in her. I remember being in disbelief that something as big and powerful as Yale University needed to be shaken up like this, by a bunch of rowers. And I was nervous.”

Gilder competed for the U.S. national team from 1982 to 1983, winning a bronze medal in the single sculls at the 1983 World Championships. She was a member of the 1980 and 1984 Olympic teams, earning a silver medal at the 1984 Los Angeles Games in the quadruple sculls.

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In 2000, she and her father Richard donated $4 million to construct the Gilder Boathouse. It’s home to a community program as well as Yale’s crew teams. And yes, there’s equal showering and changing space for the men and women, with a view of the finish line along the 2,000-meter campus racecourse.

“That boathouse is a work of art,” Ginny says.

Jayda Evans: 206-464-2067 or

On Twitter @JaydaEvans

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