Cal Athletics raises $8 million for women’s teams

Cal Athletics is celebrating the successful completion of its $8 million Gender Equity Campaign, which was brought to the finish line with a generous gift from the Banatao family. The campaign — the first of its kind at Berkeley to focus solely on elevating women’s sports facilities and programs — supports the development of new facilities for softball and beach volleyball.

Photo of the women's team standing in a diagonal line with their hands on their knees and long shadows creating a cool visual effect.

The Cal Women's softball team, by Catharyn Hayne.

As campus leaders honor Title IX — the landmark federal law enacted in 1972 that prohibits sex discrimination in any educational program or activity receiving any type of federal financial aid — the campaign’s success is particularly timely.

“As we launch our yearlong celebration of the 50th anniversary of the implementation of Title IX, we are incredibly excited to surpass this milestone,” said Chancellor Carol T. Christ, who has made the Gender Equity Campaign a priority. The capital project process is ongoing and both facilities are currently in the environmental review stage.

Chancellor Christ and Director of Athletics Jim Knowlton are celebrating the teamwork that made this campaign a winning endeavor — particularly the leadership of the Gender Equity Campaign committee’s co-chairs: Lynda Brothers ’68, Bill Ausfahl ’61, and Brad Brian ’74. The committee’s dedicated efforts since 2018 made it possible for the Banatao family’s recent gift to bring the campaign to a close.

I agreed to be a co-chair because the facilities were inequitable and it was the right thing to do,” explained Bill Ausfahl, who was a 2021 Cal Athletic Fund’s Golden Bear of the Year. Ausfahl was also moved to help lead the campaign because of his wife, Trudy, his daughters in law, and five granddaughters, all of whom are good athletes. “Trudy was denied the right to compete in high school and college because she grew up well before the passage of Title IX in 1972.”

“As a former student-athlete and volleyball player at Cal, I benefited firsthand from Title IX, and am proud to pay it forward and support the next generation of Golden Bear women volleyball players.” — Tala Banatao

Ausfahl added that C. Bryan Cameron, who provided the lead gift that led to the creation of the Cameron Institute for Student-Athlete Development, built upon his commitment to Cal Athletics with a $1 million gift to support the Gender Equity Campaign.

The Banatao family, which includes several Cal alumni and has been engaged with the campus for many years, provided the $1 million gift that brought the campaign to a successful close and named the Banatao Beach Volleyball Stadium.

“The Banatao family is honored to support Cal’s commitment to gender equality in athletics, especially on this significant anniversary of Title IX,” said Rey ’96, Desi ’99 and ’04, and Tala ’02.

“As a former student-athlete and volleyball player at Cal, I benefited firsthand from Title IX, and am proud to pay it forward and support the next generation of Golden Bear women volleyball players,” said Tala.

Photo of two women in white Cal uniforms (a tank top and shorts) congratulating each other with a joyful a high ten.

Ana Costa (15) and Maya Gessner (24), members of the Cal women's beach volleyball team. Photo by Al Sermeno.

Coaches for both teams are thrilled with the new investment and are poised to make the most of the new facilities. For Cal Beach Volleyball Head Coach Meagan Owusu, the upgrade in facilities comes at a time when the team is expanding, reflecting a growing interest in the sport. Cal Softball Head Coach Chelsea Spencer looks forward to being able to host NCAA regional games and have a home field advantage. New facilities for both teams will leverage the talent of student athletes and position them for success on and off the field.

“Equity benefits everyone,” said Knowlton. “These facilities are not solely about the success of our softball and beach volleyball programs. They will be symbols of our commitment for all of our student athletes, their fans, and future generations of Golden Bears. I am extremely grateful to our co-chairs, the campaign committee, and all of our donors who stepped forward to support this campaign, and to the Banato family that helped get us to the finish line — a classic Cal team effort.”

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