UCSB goalkeeper named vice-chair of ‘Big West Undivided’
Sophomore Evann Smith, a goalkeeper on the UCSB women’s soccer team, helped raise nearly $80,000 this summer in the battle against racial injustice.
Now she wants to raise awareness.
Smith, an honors student who plans to major in either economics or psychology, was named by the Big West Conference as vice-chair of its newly formed Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee.
The committee is comprised of one administrator and one student-athlete from each of the Big West’s 11 member institutions. Christina Baglas, UCSB’s deputy athletics director for development, was also selected to the committee while UC San Diego director of athletics Earl Edwards was named as chair.
The conference described the mission of the committee — known as Big West Undivided — as a “united front to combat racism, fight for social justice, and proudly support the Black Lives Matter movement and other nonviolent organizations alongside its coaches and student-athletes.”
“Athletes across the world are fueled with passion to fight for equality and against injustices,” Smith said. “Big West Undivided is a vessel for student-athletes and staff alike to inspire and create sustainable change inside our athletic communities.
“It is extremely invigorating to be a part of a committee that is action-oriented and filled with determined members.”
The committee plans to work with the conference’s SAAC (Student Athlete Advisory Committee) on “voter initiatives encouraging student-athletes to take part in the electoral process by providing nonpartisan resources and registration information.”
Big West Undivided listed four guiding pillars:
“Educating committee members and league constituents on the importance of diversity and inclusion. Empowering student-athletes and administrators to find the voice to fight injustice. Holding those in campus communities and departments accountable for their actions and speech. Creating lasting change in campuses and communities through peaceful means and initiatives.”
The committee has held three meetings so far.
Smith’s activism began immediately after the May 25 death of George Floyd. She and a handful of college athletes organized a GoFundMe account with an initial goal of raising $1,000 for Black Lives Matter. They wound up drawing participation from more than 200 schools while raising nearly $80,000.
“It just blows my mind how much support was given to us, the athletic community, and to the Black Lives Matter movement,” Smith said.
One of the fund-raisers was a walk, run, bike and-or swim of 8.46 miles, which represented the eight minutes and 46 seconds that a police officer was videoed pinning Floyd’s neck to the ground with his knee.
“This event made me realize that activism isn’t just through protest,” Smith said. “You can use different avenues to support positive changes.”
Smith’s fall season with the Gaucho soccer team has been delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic. She played in UCSB’s final three matches of last year, recording 13 saves, after senior goalkeeper Hanna DeWeese suffered a wrist injury.
She was one of 12 UCSB women’s soccer players honored by the Big West for registering a grade-point average of 3.51 or higher last year.
WESTMONT GRADUATE TO KEEP PITCHING AT AZUSA
Pitcher Cory Dawson will get the chance to continue his baseball career even though he graduated from Westmont College last spring.
Dawson, who had his senior season with the Warriors curtailed by the COVID-19 pandemic, plans to pitch next season as a graduate student at Azusa Pacific.
All spring athletes were granted an extra year of eligibility because of last year’s shortened season. Westmont, however, does not have a graduate school.
Warriors coach Robert Ruiz, who served as an assistant coach at Azusa for five years, helped arrange Dawson’s graduate transfer. Dawson plans to pursue a master’s in business administration.
“He was our number one starter and in any other normal year in the MLB Draft he was a likely selection at the end of the season,” Ruiz said. “However, not only did his season get cut short, but so did the MLB Draft (from 40 rounds to just five).
“I couldn’t be happier that he has found a way to continue to pursue his education and pitch another season of college baseball, with the hopes of moving on to the professional level after that. I can’t think of a more deserving person for an opportunity like this.”
Dawson, who received All-Golden State Athletic Conference honors as a junior in 2019, was having another big season when the coronavirus halted play. He had posted a win-loss record of 5-1 with an earned run average of 2.91. His 63 strikeouts led the league and ranked fourth in the NAIA.
“I have so many great memories from my time at Westmont, and I am so glad that I was able to go there for four years,” Dawson said. “I will always remember the friendships that I made with my teammates and the little things like playing Mafia on the bus after a series win. I was always excited to go to practice every day because I knew that I would have a good time hanging out and competing with my friends.
“I’m proud to consider myself a Westmont alum and I’m looking forward to what this year has in store for me at APU.”
Dawson finishes his Westmont career ranked ninth in school history in strikeouts (171) and 14th in wins.
“Cory meant a great deal to our program,” Ruiz said. “He was a leader on the field, in the classroom and in our community. He earned respect by doing things the right way day in and day out. There is a reason he got better every year.
“He left a mark on our program by teaching his teammates how to go about your business like a professional every single day. We will most certainly miss his presence in our program.”
SHOTWELL NAMED PRESEASON ALL-BIG SKY IN FOOTBALL
Although the Big Sky Conference has delayed the start of its football season until 2021, Santa Barbara’s Matt Shotwell was one of five Cal Poly athletes named to the Phil Steele Preseason All-Big Sky Conference Team.
Shotwell, a senior linebacker from Bishop Diego High, was chosen to the second team.
He led Cal Poly in tackles (89) and tackles for lost yardage (7.5) last year while being voted to the All-Big Sky Team Team. He also intercepted two passes, broke up two others and forced a fumble while earning most valuable defensive player honors for the Mustangs.