After making the women’s quadruple sculls team in the 1984 Olympics, winning silver and co-owning the Seattle Storm, Ginny Gilder has moved on to her next endeavor: writing a book.
Course Correction is a 250-page memoir that delves into Gilder’s history with breaking gender barriers at Yale University, growing up in a dysfunctional family and realizing her true sexual identity.
Gilder grew up with a lot of money and was mostly taken care of by nannies on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. When her father left the family for a summer nanny and her mother attempted suicide, Gilder left for an all-girls boarding school.
After watching the Head of Charles Regatta in Cambridge, she decided to start rowing.
“I thought rowing gave me another opportunity to distance myself,” she said in her book. “To swerve off the expected route and run in a new direction.”
She joined the team at Yale.
“Rowing provided me stability,” Gilder said. “If I can row this boat forward, there’s a certain self-confidence that came from that.”
Gilder became the youngest of 19 female rowers to walk into the office of Director of Physical Education Jodi Barnett and strip with the words “Title IX” painted on their bodies. The act was to show Barnett that by not having their own showers, the females were exploited by the men’s team. A photograph was shown in the Yale Daily News and the New York Times.
“We had a sense of history, but in terms of individual courage, I felt like I was taking a huge risk,” Gilder said.
In 1980, Gilder earned a spot on the U.S. Olympic Rowing Team, but never went because of the U.S. boycott that year. Four years later, she competed in the women’s quadruple sculls team and won silver.
Gilder got married and started taking tennis lessons with her husband from Lynn Slaughter. The two women fell in love and married.
Ten years later, WNBA Seattle Storm co-owners Dawn Trudeau and Lisa Brummel, another Yale alumnae, asked Gilder if she wanted part of the team as well.
“I am not a huge basketball fan in and of itself,” she said. “There’s an emotional ownership. I wanted to get reconnected with the community and work with women because the investment community is heavily male.”
Now, after training hard to get to the top of her sport, making history with her naked walk-in, and figuring out her sexuality, Gilder can add writer to her list of accomplishments.
“It was a new frontier,” she said of her memoir. “An intellectual challenge.”
Gilder will be discussing her book on May 5 at Seattle’s Town Hall and May 23 at The Elliot Bay Book Company with author Daniel James Brown of The Boys in the Boat.