Red-Letter Day

Honoring the pioneers of women’s athletics at Chico State

The 150-plus women at August’s Women in Athletics Celebration didn’t have time for pity parties during their tenure as Chico State athletes. They were too busy competing, and in some cases, fighting for a chance to participate. But they do know how to party. That was evident during the three-hour celebration packed full of renewed connections and magnificent memories.

The Chico State Department of Intercollegiate Athletics invited all women who participated in athletics prior to 1980 to the Bell Memorial Union to present them with their Block “C” letter that, prior to 1980, was only awarded to the University’s male athletes.

“I think this is one of the bigger events, apart from playing the sports, of our lives,” Chico State Athletics Hall of Famer Kathy Neal (BS, Nursing, ’97) told the Chico Enterprise-Record. She came all the way from Massachusetts to attend the ceremony.

“These years were the best years of my life, running for Cherrie Sherrard and being part of the team,” said Julia Orri (BA, Physical Education, ’82; Credential, ’82), a former track athlete. “We didn’t know what we didn’t have at the time, but now it’s wonderful to be recognized for our efforts.”

Athletic Director Anita Barker hatched the dream, and Assistant Director Mitch Cox made the celebration a reality. “This is long overdue, and it’s something the University owes you,” Barker told the group. “This is intended to be a gift for all of you.”

It was taken as such.

“The women that are being honored today are getting their rightful due,” said legendary Chico State women’s basketball coach Fran Coslet (BA, Physical Education, ’62; MA, Physical Education, ’71; Credential, ’72).

—Luke Reid, Chico State Sports Information

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Mens track photo of athleteMen’s Track and Field—Smith Soars to New Heights

More than 1,250 men were listed on California Collegiate Athletic Association rosters in 2012–2013. Chico State’s J Patrick Smith rose above them all.

Fresh off his second straight NCAA decathlon title, Smith was named CCAA Male Athlete of the Year and Division II National Field Athlete of the Year by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association in June.

Smith, now a senior, will be chasing his third straight NCAA title this spring.

Athletics Department—Another Incredible Campaign

The Chico State Department of Athletics claimed its third consecutive CCAA Commissioner’s Cup in 2012–2013. The Commissioner’s Cup is awarded to the top overall athletics department in the conference. That determination is based on the institution’s aggregate ranking in eight of the CCAA’s 12 championship sport offerings. The better the finish, the lower the point total. Chico State’s men’s and women’s cross country teams, men’s and women’s track and field teams, and women’s basketball team all won CCAA titles.

Athletics photo of women's cross country runnersCross Country—Chico Teams Dominate

At the CCAA cross country championships, alumni like U.S. Olympic trials marathon hopeful Alia Gray, NCAA pole vault champion Katrina Rodriguez, and Ulises Tellechea—the man responsible for the formation of the now famous “Chico! You know!” cheer—were a blur as they blazed from one spot to the next to cheer on the current ’Cats, who were after cross country titles at Chico’s own Hooker Oak Park.

The ’Cats responded with remarkable races. The Chico State men’s swept the first six places to win the program’s 12th straight CCAA title. The women dominated as well, sending the first two runners across the line for their sixth straight CCAA crown.

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Alum Notes

Terris McMahan Grimes

Terris McMahan Grimes

(BA, English, ’72) publishes novel set in West Oakland in 1964.

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Matt Petersen

(BA, Political Science, ’90) is LA’s first chief sustainability officer.

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Leland Gordon

Leland Gordon

(BA, Journalism, ’06) is editor of, a CBS high school sports site.

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