By Jennipher Vasquez
Collegiate athletic directors and coaches from throughout the Inland Empire joined for “A day of Title IX,” at Riverside City College’s Hall of Fame Room on Nov. 4.
The panelists highlighted the impact of the law, how it influenced their careers and how Title IX is about much more than just women’s equality in sports.
Nicho DellaValle, director of sports information at RCC, organized and hosted the panel.
He defined Title IX for the audience before asking a series of questions to each panelist.
“Title IX is more than sport,” Megan Bottoms, RCC instructor and student activities coordinator, said. “Title IX is the ability for me as a female to be able to show up in an educational system and to be given the opportunity to compete.”
She said Title IX helped open doors that might not have been open to her 50 years ago. Her current position at the college and the doctorate degree that helped her get the job being examples of just that.
RCC women’s tennis coach Nikki Bonzoumet and RCC women’s volleyball coach Clara Lowden, who also served on the panel, shared similar sentiments.
“As women don’t ever forget that you have an opportunity and don’t take it for granted,” Lowden said. “That’s pretty much what, for me, has given me the career to coach, to be an administrator, to be a professor.”
She said education was always a man’s world, but thanks to Title IX it no longer is.
RCC women’s sports teams were in attendance, including the women’s basketball team and coach Alicia Berber.
Berber and last season’s basketball team publicly spoke out back in February against inequities they faced as female athletes at RCC.
“The work that you did to put this panel together and this conversation about Title IX is incredible, so thank you,” Berber said to DellaValle.
The lack of male student athlete attendance sparked conversation about educating male sports teams about Title IX.
Wesley Mallette, Director of Intercollegiate Athletics at UCR, added to the discussion by saying that it is important for male student athletes to be a part of the conversation.
“When you’re faced with a Title IX issue or you’re dealing with issues around equity, how are you going to know (how to handle it) if you’re not educated and you don’t have the experience in dealing with (Title IX) or talking with people about it?” asked Mallette.
Mallette said he and his colleagues at UCR work to ensure there is an overall “alignment” in how they handle Title IX violations and educate their students.
Some of the women in the audience thanked the panelists for their advocacy and for providing insight to the issues that directly affect them.
Jazmyn Lara, RCC softball player, said that despite not knowing what Title IX was before listening to the panelists speak, she is grateful to have heard the panelists’ experiences and about what they do to continue pushing for equality.
“Before I entered the room today I wasn’t really aware of what Title IX was,” she said. “I would just like to thank you guys all for continuing to do what you do… (and for) being able to come here and talk to us about it and bring some acknowledgement to us.”