In early February, 1975, Liz Bouve decided she had had enough.

Over the years at Montgomery's Einstein High, Bouve had taught physical education classes and coached girls' tennis, track, basketball, volleyball and gymnastics.

She had done the coaching for free, as had all the other coaches of girls' teams in the county's high schools.

But one day in the early '70s Bouve recalled, about half the coaches in the county got together and agreed, "If we're not being paid, let's not work. The next year, they started putting stipends out."

By 1975, girls' coaches were getting some pay.The coach of the girls' track team, for example, received $400.

But the coach of the boys' track team was paid $1,600. An assistant was paid $1,300.

The boys' tennis coach got $700. The girls' coach got $400.

Overall, the boys' teams had about 17 coaches with stipends totaling $17,000. The girls' teams had seven coaches who collectively earned $2,800.

So Bouve, who was assistant athletic director, filed a Title 7 complaint with the county, seeking equal pay for equal work.

"I worked minute for minute, hour for hour, day for day as the men's track coach," she remembered. "But I was getting $400 and he was getting $1,600."

Bouve was eventually joined in the action by 26 other county coaches, including men. They were not, she said, seeking equal pay where the work load was unequal. Some sports had shorter seasons for girls. But that, in itself, raised questions of whether the girls were being short-changed.

Penny Pruitt, the current assistant athletic director at Einstein, recalled the change of attitude that prompted the "work stoppage".

"Before, you just coached. You were concerned about the well-being of the kids so you said money wasn't important. . . .

"But then you said, 'I'm not going to do this out of the kindness of my heart anymore' . . . It was a matter of adopting the men's philosophy."

Today, Montgomery County coaches are paid equally, based on the number of hours work. Although there are some discrepancies, they are based on nondiscriminatory factors.

There are similar stipend formulae for coaches throughout the metropolitan area, according to coaches and athletic directors. And the equal-pay mandate has drawn more and more men into coaching girls' teams.

"I used to think the most important thing was having women coaches," said Dee Smith, assistant athletic director at Arlington's Yorktown High. "I don't anymore. The important thing is having the best coach."

The pool of qualified and available coaches is dwindling, just as the demand for them is escalating. The District and states of Maryland and Virginia require that coaches be certified teachers, a rule that shuts out well-intentioned amateurs.

The once-high turnover rate of teachers has diminished. Combine that with declining enrollments and budgetary cutbacks and there are simply fewer teacher-coach positions open.

In some cases, teachers have stopped coaching, having found that their stipends don't cover the babysitter's fees. Still others have found that the pressing demands on their time are too much.

Bouve, who coached five sports throughout much of her 10 years, dropped back to one last year when she had a baby. "I didn't feel I could repeat the pace," she said. "Year-round it takes a toll. It's like working two jobs. You have your eight-hour teaching job and then another four-hour job after school."

The role and responsibilities of the coach have changed dramatically in the past decade.

"Ten years ago, girls were grateful to be part of the team and grateful for whatever coaching they could get," said Pat Dean, basketball coach at Madison. "They're more sophisticated in their own knowledge now so they won't settle for someone just to supervise them."

Woodward's Ruth Koenigsberg, who is athletic director for both the boys and girls, concurs. "In girls sports now, the demands are for coaches who are knowledgeable. You have to be more knowledgeable now because the girls are so far along. You can't start at square one because the girls are already at square 10."

The coaches of a girls' high school team today are serious. They attend clinics and training seminars. They subscribe to periodicals and monitoring trends at the college level.

The increased availability of athletic scholarships for college women has brought additional duties to the high school coaches, many of whom try to help players get scholarships.

"You have to promote your kids," said Jean Allen, assistant athletic director at Mount Vernon. "I would like to come in some morning and have the main office call me and say a coach from such and such university wants to talk to a student -- 'What time would be convenient for you?' -- instead of having to go out and hustle the kids."

The acceptance of girls sports may best be reflected by the number of men willing to coach them.

"You see men who are willing to help," said Betty Lou Dunn, chairman of women's sports at T. C. Williams. "You used to hear, 'Oh, yeah, they're coaching the girls because they can't make it in the men's ranks. But you don't hear that anymore."

Bob Headen is athletic director, football coach and girls' basketball coach at H. D. Woodson, as well as president of the Interhigh D.C. Coaches Association.

"I've coached the girls' team four years and I love it," he said. "It's a big difference from coaching 60 to 70 boys. I'm used to everything moving at a quick pace, but with the girls it's slow motion. They work well together but aren't as serious about the sport as the boys are. . . ."

Equipment and access to facilities still remain the coach's biggest headache, regardless of the sex of the team.

"We're still second-class citizens," said Wanda Oates, coach and teacher at Ballou High for 15 years. "It may not appear that way on the surface, but it's still there."

But describing the arrangement at W. T. Woodson in Annandale, Joline Kickliter, assistant athletic director, said, "We had a good program before Title 9 and we've never been denied anything because we're female.

"If we had asked earlier (for the shared arrangement they now enjoy), we might have gotten these things. But I guess we never really thought of asking, so attitudes really have changed as a result of Title 9."