Forging The Future
Olympians. National Champions. Groundbreakers. Leaders.
In the years of women's athletics at California, so many members of the Cal family have had a hand in forging the future for Golden Bear female student-athletes.
The fourth and final Cal Athletics Fund Summer Caravan event featured women who have and continue to make impacts on women's athletics in many different ways. California graduate, current Pac-12 Network Play-By-Play announcer, and the first woman to ever call an NFL game on the radio, Kate Scott, served as host of the discussion featuring former track & field athlete Alysia Montaño, reigning hammer throw national title holder Camryn Rogers, and Donna Fong Director of Field Hockey Shellie Onstead.
With all of the panelists bringing unique aspects to the table, including experiences of what their time as a student-athlete at Cal meant to them, a main vision kept emerging - paving the way for future generations of female student-athletes at California.
Montaño, a seven-time U.S. national champion in the 800-meters and two-time American record-holder, has had her time at Cal impact the rest of her life each and every day. Montaño has been an activist for working moms and recently created a non-profit organization, &Mother, helping working mothers thrive at home and at work.
"It was the beginning of recognizing my importance and using my voice," Montaño said. "All of my activism to create positive change and speaking out against injustices and discrimination, it all came from my time at Cal. For me, it went well beyond the oval in track. Your time at Cal can afford you so many things other than just being a student-athlete. I want our younger generation to recognize and see how important it is to become well-rounded after being an athlete."
For Rogers, track & field has been a life-changer since she first picked up a hammer at the age of 12, all while being propelled along by encouragement from her mother, Shari. Growing up in a single parent household, Rogers saw the sacrifices and efforts it took from her mother to help achieve her goals.
"I am who I am today because of my sport, and especially because of the woman who supported me through the highs and lows of it, my mom," Rogers said. "Being a single parent, she's always had to do twice the amount of work to make our goals a reality, but not once did she ever tell me something was impossible. My one word I always tell people about my mom is powerful. She's a very powerful woman with an unstoppable will. Being raised by a woman like her has taught me success is not easy, but it's always very, very possible."
Onstead has been a part of women's athletics at California for 40 years, first as a student-athlete and for the last 25 years as head coach of her alma mater. During that time she has taken field hockey, a sport normally associated with the East Coast, and made a footprint on the western half of the country.
Priding herself on being a people person, Onstead has always been aware that sports connect people. While in Holland after graduating from Cal, she became aware of how much of an international game field hockey was and wanted to create that feeling in Berkeley.
"When you really think about the way the Olympics were created, to bring people together for competition, it's full circle," Onstead said. "I'm so happy to be able to create a group on this campus that is international so I can mix cultures, have them learn from each other, and really experience what that brings. Athletics has given me everything and I'm able to continue that for so many others."
As we celebrate 150 Years of Women at Berkeley, it was fitting that Lue Lilly, a pioneer of women's athletics at California and leader of the newly-formed women's athletic department in the mid-1970s, opened the conversation spanning so many impactful women across several decades of Golden Bear athletics.
From Lilly to Onstead, followed by Scott and Montaño, and now Rogers, so many strong women have had an impact not only on the past and present of women's athletics at Cal, but they continue each day to lay the foundation for the future of every female student-athlete who will don the Blue and Gold for years to come.
"During the time I have been competing, women have continued to make strides in the athletic world," Rogers said. "All we have to do is look at the incredible people we have right here on this call for an example of that. A really important aspect of sport is to have your voice heard, and have your thoughts and opinions out there and respected. We learn from that, we move forward with that and will continue creating better experiences and environments."