UCSB scored big Monday night with a visit from a former Olympic star.
Roughly 100 students and families gathered at Corwin Pavilion on Monday night to listen to former volleyball Olympian Liz Masakayan. She spoke at UCSB for the fifth annual Distinguished Women in Sports Lecture in recognition of the 17th annual National Girls and Women in Sports Day, to be celebrated nationwide Wednesday.
The national event began in 1986 in recognition of Title IX, an education amendment adopted in 1972 that prohibits sexual discrimination in all education programs or activities that receive federal funds. Since then it has become a nationwide celebration involving speeches by internationally recognized female athletes like UCLA alumna Liz Masakayan.
Masakayan spoke about how Title IX permitted her to succeed as a woman in sports and allowed her to eventually become an international athlete. She also talked about past struggles, including seven knee surgeries, but said that she has enjoyed every part of her endeavor.
“I’m happy to say, it’s been a long struggle, and I hope it continues to build,” she said. “I’m just enjoying the journey.”
Judy Guillermo-Newton, director of the Sexual Harassment Education Program at the UCSB Women’s Center, was part of the organizational committee for the event. She said Title IX has had a huge effect on her involvement with women’s issues and on the lives of women nationwide.
“Since the initiation of Title IX, female involvement in sports has grown exponentially,” she said. “I’m so pleased to see girls becoming athletes, being the best they can be.”
Masakayan said she hopes she can have a positive impact on younger female athletes.
“I feel it’s important that we’re not just out there as athletes, but also as role models for future women athletes,” she said.
Masakayan is a two-time All-American and winner of Santa Barbara’s Associated Volleyball Tournament in 2001. She competed both nationally and internationally as a part of the National Volleyball Championships of 1982, played for 10 years on the Women’s Domestic Tour, and was a member of one of the nation’s three volleyball teams that participated in the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta.
Monday’s talk also commemorated Congresswoman Patsy Mink, author of Title IX, who died Sept. 28 from complications from pneumonia. UCSB women’s basketball forward Brandy Richardson spoke of Mink, a fellow Hawaiian, at the event.
“Though someone will replace her in the House, no one will ever replace her in the hearts of the people,” she said.
Guillermo-Newton, one of the planners of the annual event, was pleased with the turnout.
“There were the most athletes here that I’ve ever seen,” she said. “I’m happy to know that people are getting involved and interested in women’s issues.”
Though the crowd was comprised mainly of students, a sprinkling of families also attended the event.
Alison Werts, a mother who drove her two volleyball-playing daughters from Carpinteria to hear Masakayan speak, stood to praise Masakayan’s speech.
“What you said today really meant a lot,” she said. “My daughters are here, and I think they’ll gain a lot from hearing you speak about taking care of your body as an athlete.”