By Alicia Doyle

The Writer
Specializing in Good News
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Word to the wise

Diane Loring and the evolution of women in sports
January 1, 2015/Ventana Magazine

In a time before sports were open to girls in high school, Diane Huntington Loring was maddened by her six-foot-tall build and natural athletic ability.

“It was incredibly difficult and frustrating,” recalled Loring, 63, of Oxnard Shores. “Looking back, it would have made a world of difference for me in every aspect of my life, especially academically. I have often thought that if I could have bounced a ball in class, I would have been a straight-A student.”

The daughter of active parents who were aware of the family’s physical fitness and health, Loring always wanted to play hard. “I bought my first horse and had it delivered on my 11th birthday,” she said. “My parents were very equal in their relationship, and they did everything in their power to encourage and support me.”

By the time Loring graduated from high school, Title IX, a public law enacted in 1972, insured equal access for females and males to all educational opportunities, including federally funded sports programs.

But in 1995 she suffered a traumatic head injury in a bicycle collision near the lifeguard station at Sanjon Road. “The recovery was long and arduous,” recalled Loring, who was running her own business at the time, Spa by Diane Loring, Inc., in Ventura.

Facing her own mortality made Loring more aware of her limited time on earth and the importance of achieving something worthwhile. “Not only did I want to retrieve and optimize my own health, but somehow I wanted to make a difference on planet earth before my departure,” she said. “One day in 1996, sitting on the couch, the idea of merging my spa business and athletics and some type of spa/athletic retreat and the acronym of WISE—Women Involved in Sports Evolution—was born.”

Headquartered at the Pierpont Racquet Club in Ventura, the nonprofit is focused on the evolution of sports opportunities, media exposure, athletic scholarships, and overall equity for girls and women in sports, Loring explained.

“The disparity in all of those areas was still huge in 1996, in spite of Title IX,” she said. “We were very interested in training females, addressing the complete development of the athlete, and designing a highly specialized athletic training model which would address each athlete individually.”

Still, she found while creating WISE and making inquiries, a huge disparity remained in the allocation of funding more than 20 years later. “The legislation was not being taken seriously and the law was not being abided by,” she said. As a result, one of the main missions of WISE was to advocate for an increase and create equal representation of females in sports in the media.

“This is why Ted Turner was so excited and interested in our proposal to him,” Loring said of the American media mogul and philanthropist. “He understood the lack of representation by the media of women in sports, and that was what our media model would have changed, instantly and forever.”

While America has its moments with star female athletes, like mixed martial arts fighter Ronda Rousey and auto racing driver Danika Patrick, Loring said she “dreams of a day when we might be able to turn on the TV, read the newspaper, go online, and see women participating in all sports—contact and not—on a regular basis.”

Loring had faith that the WISE model combined with Turner’s advocacy would lead a greater appreciation of females not only in sports, but also the military, police, and other nontraditional areas. “We felt that with more exposure would come the awe, respect, embracing, and equalization of a gender so unrepresented and heretofore not seen by a society so out of balance in this respect,” she said.

Today, WISE is known as the first nonprofit of its kind to create a model that addresses the athlete from all sides—psychologically, nutritionally, and physiologically—as well as advocates for equity in all areas of sports for females. “WISE has trained champions at all levels,” Loring said, “state, national, international, Olympic, professional, and everything in between.”

Pam Stewart, a founding member of WISE and an administrator with City Impact—a multicultural community organization formed in 1995 to meet the needs of at-risk youth and low-income families throughout Ventura County—saw Loring’s vision as a good fit for the city’s target population. “We were working with a population new to this country and with extreme diet changes, contrary to their cultural diet,” explained Loring. “We also found that this population was especially prone to diabetes and obesity.”

WISE created a nutritional and exercise model to increase awareness that was easily understood and simple to share. “This model was something that could be implemented without much extra cost, yet had the potential to dramatically change levels of health and overall results,” Loring said.

Today, Loring is a taekwondo champion who participated in the 2014 Inaugural Ultra Sparring Camp at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs. “These world-class instructors actively train our current and future Olympic taekwondo athletes,” Loring said. “Some of us are actively competing at state, national, and international tournaments.”

Looking back on her experiences, Loring believes that life comes down to choosing how to live. “Sometimes the only thing to do is figure out the smartest strategy and fight until you win…and every step of the way and once you have won, you can give thanks.”

For more information about WISE and SPA by Diane Loring, visit spaventura.com or call 805.641.0022.




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