40 years after the passage of Title IX, the phenomenon of women participating in sports has reached a new level, not just in the United States, but worldwide. In two weeks in London, for the first time ever, more women are scheduled to participate in the Olympic Games than men. Females from the United States are being recruited to play for other countries, such as Becky Hammon of the WNBA's San Antonio Silver Stars playing for the Russian national team.
Here at Seattle University, the future is now for women's athletics. Led by legendary coach Joan Bonvicini, the women's basketball team is coming off an appearance in the postseason and is primed for competition in the Western Athletic Conference. Women's soccer coach Julie Woodward, a Seattle U Athletic Hall of Famer, begins her march towards a conference title and a berth in the NCAA Tournament after reaching the 200-win mark as a head coach last season.
Head volleyball coach Shannon Ellis, head cross country and track and field coach Trisha Steidl, and new head rowing coach Portia McGee all plan to impart their experiences as student-athletes to those that they will be leading into competition. Also, the men who are head coaches of female teams, Dan Powers for softball, Craig Nisgor for swimming and Mark Frisby for tennis, understand the importance of women participating in athletics at the highest level possible and will push their student-athletes towards being the best in all aspects of life. The women's golf program has also seen vast improvement over the past four years, and the new coach will be looked to for continuation of that growth.
Seattle University is helping these coaches reach their goals with more scholarships, more staff, and improved facilities over the next few years. Logan Field is undergoing a reconstruction this summer. When completed, it will give not only the softball team, but also the soccer team, the track and field squad, and students looking for recreation opportunities, more chances to participate in sports, thanks to a field turf surface that can withstand the changing weather of the Northwest, as well as a lighting system that will allow use of the facility during both daytime and nighttime hours.
Plans are under consideration for improvements within the Connolly Center, including changes to the North Court that will give the women's basketball and volleyball squads a home arena that Redhawk fans will be eager to fill to cheer on the home teams. The women's tennis team will also enjoy a new facility for indoor practices and matches, as the Tennis Center at Sand Point plans to be ready for the 2012-13 academic year.
The importance of having women compete in intercollegiate athletics is a belief Seattle University will always hold, and the school will continue to do everything possible to give its female students equal opportunities to use sports and recreation as part of a well-rounded education. Seattle University's mission is to educate leaders for a just and humane world, and equal opportunities to participate in athletics are a significant part of fulfilling that mission.