By Eli Obando
MORAGA, Calif. -- To celebrate the 40th anniversary of the passage of Title IX, the Saint Mary's women's basketball team, together with school administrators and alumni, hosted a panel before Thursday night's game against Pacific to discuss the landmark law with local children and their parents.
The legislation, which changed forever the way opportunities to participate in sports are afforded to both women and men, served as a catalyst for women's athletics to be as strong as they are today.
"It means a lot; it just gives girls the opportunity to do something they love," said Gaels basketball player Ashlee Smith, who participated in the panel. "It gives girls the opportunity to play in college, get their college paid for, go play overseas, play in the WNBA, and make it a career. That's just something we are really thankful for.”
Joining Smith were Gaels assistant coaches Allyson Fasnacht and Tracy Sanders, Associate Athletic Director Kami Gray, and SMC alums Eghosa Obaiza and Sheridan Arredondo Kautzman.
“I think it was great, we had probably over 100 people over in the Soda Center," Fasnacht said. "We had a panel of some of us coaches, we had one of our current players, and we had some alumni that came back just to kind of talk about the importance of Title IX and what it has meant for us, especially us as females in the sport profession as well."
Assistant athletic director for marketing and promotions Leilani Wagner helped organize the event, and said afterwards that it was a huge success.
"It was great to see alumni, current players, coaches and our administration come together to talk about something that's important not only for women in sports but also in higher education and the workforce, said Wagner, who also credited SMC student Jillian Cary for helping to organize the night. "Title IX is also beneficial to men. It creates opportunities that benefit both genders."
The panel wasn't the only community involvement the SMC women's basketball team had Thursday. That afternoon, coaches and members of the team delivered more than 90 pounds of canned goods and other food donated throughout December at Monument Crisis Center in Concord.