Chico athletes reflect on International Women’s Day


Chico State Athletics

Shay Stark driving past a defender last season for the Wildcats.

International Women’s Day is celebrated yearly on March 8 and throughout the month. It’s a day that focuses on the movement for women’s rights. 

Several female athletes  at Chico State spoke to The Orion about why this day and month matter so much to them.

“International women’s day is an opportunity to reflect on both the historical achievements women have accomplished as well as the continued strides being made to address the systemic inequalities women continue to face,” said Susanna Garcia, junior forward on the women’s soccer team.

Remembering the achievements women have made throughout the years and why this day represents a positive future for women not just in the sports industry, but the world, is important. 

“International Women’s day is a day of remembering the achievements of women throughout the years,” said Brooke Ono, a sophomore and member of the women’s volleyball team.“As a woman I think it is important to realize that a woman can do anything that a man can if she puts her mind to it. I feel that women can be sidelined when it comes to sports so having a day that reminds people that everyone is equal is important.” 

Appreciation of past women in the sports world that have made sacrifices for future generations of women athletes is a huge deal and something women athletes at Chico do not take for granted. 

“International Women’s Day means acknowledging the trailblazers that came before me,” said Shay Stark, a senior guard on the women’s basketball team. “They have opened up the doors for me to have the opportunities I do today.” 

International Women’s Day allows women to reflect on the past and those who have impacted the sports world.

“International women’s day is important to me because it reflects all of the amazing accomplishments women have done and continue to do for society,” said Reilani Peleti, a senior and infielder on the Chico State softball team.  “It’s a great day for women who have been underrepresented for a long time throughout history. I appreciate this day because it recognizes women who have paved the way for women forever.” 

Reilani Peleti securing an out last season for the Wildcats.
Reilani Peleti securing an out last season for the Wildcats.

There is a gap between men and women sports and how the athletes are treated and paid. The average salary in 2020 for the Women’s National Basketball Association was $100,658 dollars compared to $10,000,000 dollars for NBA. Women athletes at Chico such as Garcia recognize this issue. 

“I feel women are still treated unequally although some changes have been made, there is still a lot of change to be made,” Garcia said. “Keep using our voices, professional athletes continuing to be an advocate for all women in sports.” 

Change and recognition in the women sports industry is a topic that many people have passion for. Being someone who has a voice and can speak out and create opportunities for young female athletes is important and needs to be addressed, Ono acknowledged. The Women’s Sports Foundation and their Athlete Ambassador Program they have developed is doing a great job of this. The program is designed to engage young girls in a meaningful and active way, through sports activities and to educate communities through discussions about health, responsibility and leadership. 

“Nowadays I think that women’s sports are being recognized more, and there is more appreciation for women’s sports because of the hard work and dedication it takes to be the best of the best,” Ono said. “ I think that we can talk about it in social settings, having everyone keep an open mind about the topic, post about it on social media, and learn about it in school.” 

The change women athletes at Chico are seeing in regard to awareness for women athletes is a positive light for the future. Becky Hammon, the top assistant coach of the San Antonio Spurs, is a perfect example and exemplifies leadership for the female sport culture.  

“The attitude toward women in sports is a lot more progressive than it has ever been before, so it gives me hope,” Stark said. “I think putting more women in high level positions throughout the sports industry and giving them the stage to make themselves known would better help spread awareness.” 

These women are proud to be athletes and take pride in it everyday. Despite the tremendous gains in sports participation made by girls and women during the last 30 years, there is still a gap in the enrollment figures between males and females. The participation of girls is currently only 39% of the total participation in interscholastic athletics.

“To me, being a woman athlete makes me incredibly proud, however with the inequality we face everyday that still angers me,” Garcia said. “But it’s important to keep taking steps forward into changing the systemic inequalities we as women face in sports.”

Being an athlete at the collegiate level is something that many do not get to experience, regardless of gender. Ono feels blessed to play the sport she loves in college.

“I feel blessed to be a part of the Wildcat Athletic Program and be able to say that I am a collegiate athlete,” Ono said. “This chance is one-in-a-million to get recruited to come play for a program in college, let alone a program that supports each one of their athletes. I felt at home when I met the coaches and was in the environment at Chico State and still do to this day.” 

Regardless of gender, the sports industry is something that is always evolving and changing. International Women’s Day is just another opportunity to spread awareness and have people talk about women sports. 

“Being a woman athlete is a pillar in my life,”  Peleti said.“Being an athlete has created characteristics in myself I would not have if it weren’t for softball. Softball has prepared me to be a strong woman and capable of taking on the world after college. Being a woman student athlete is a privilege and I don’t take it lightly.” 

Jacob Milligan can be reached at @[email protected] or @champ_milly8 on Twitter.