ALTOONA, Pa. (WTAJ) — A college scholarship can change someone’s life.

“My family had financial difficulties because my father had brain aneurysm when we were kids,” said Mag Strittmatter.

In 1972, President Richard Nixon signed Title IX into law, which banned schools from using sex discrimination, which opened doors to not only classrooms, but also gyms and ball fields across America.

“When I was a freshman in high school, where Cambria Heights High School called the all the girls together in the spring of 1971 and said we’re going to have a girls basketball program in the fall,” said Strittmatter. “And so I just thought I’d won the lotto.”

Mag Strittmatter grew up in Patton. Cambria Height did not have a girls basketball team until her sophomore year. The Highlanders went undefeated in two of her three seasons. The summer after she graduated high school, she was working in a sewing factory in Altoona, a job she knew wasn’t for her.

“Summer of ’74, I was working at one of the sewing factories in Altoona, and I realized then I needed to go to college because I was a terrible sew-er {sic,} I would never survive,” said Strittmatter. “So one day I came home from work and and I was I had a message that the new head coach at Penn State had called and wanted to set up an opportunity for me to have a tryout. And so I went up and had an interview and a tryout and a couple of days later, she called me back and asked if I would like to wear blue and white and be part of the Penn State’s team. And that was Coach Pat Mizer, who coached for six years at Penn State and really was the original architect of that program.”

Strittmatter was the first woman to receive a Penn State athletic scholarship. She is still the only Lady Lion to average a career double-double.

Title IX put her on a basketball court, basketball got her to college, and college — she says — gave her opportunities

“Playing sports is like getting a Ph.D. in so many skill sets that allowed women to advance in other other arenas,” said Strittmatter. “So learning that leadership at an early stage just was just eye opening for me. And then the confidence it gave, it gives you and it gave me a confidence in that. I just I’m not just playing basketball, but I can take these skills that I’ve learned and I can apply them in a more broadly found way so that I could have a career of whatever. And it’s blessed me along the along the years as my career advanced and and to and led to in part to where I am today.”

Today, Strittmatter uses those opportunities to help others. She is the CEO of the RoadRunner Food Pantry in Albuquerque, NM.

“We have low population in contrast to other states of our size, but we have very high poverty numbers,” said Strittmatter. “And so addressing this issue every single day is a very key and important thing. And it really ties back to what I remember as a kid having some of those tough times. You know, and you don’t want to be judged by others.”

Though she is far away from Happy Valley, Strittmatter says she watches the Nittany Lions any chance she can.

“I came back a few years ago right before that and went up and met Coach Kilgore and had the chance to to meet her, her coaching staff and to relay to her as the as a new a new, newer member to the Penn State athletic family,” said Strittmatter. “You have blue and white in your veins and you can’t help it.”