The Athletics, PE, & Recreation (APER) department hosted several alumnae events in conjunction with the Mills College Reunion and Family Weekend. The weekend provided an opportunity for alums and current athletes to gather, exchange stories, and share memories about their time as Cyclones. Each team held an alumnae event, building community through friendly competition. The weekend culminated with a Cyclone picnic and Mindset of Champions panel.
The Mindset of Champions panel honored eight former Mills athletes and coaches who made outstanding contributions to Mills athletics. Director of athletics Themy Adachi introduced each champion and facilitated discussion, encouraging the panelists to reflect on their successes, time at Mills, and lessons learned from their sports. The panelists represented four sports programs: cross country, rowing, swimming, and volleyball.
The cross country program welcomed back Lupe Cazares and Kim Chew, along with their former coach, Laura Davis. Under the direction of Davis, Cazares and Chew qualified individually for NAIA Nationals in 2008 and 2010 respectively. Davis also led her 2009 squad to a CalPac Championship and a team appearance at NAIA Nationals.
The rowing team was represented by two nationally recognized rowers, Elese Lebsack and Ashley Garza and former head coach Carrie Davis. Lebsack helped bring a national championship to Mills in 1996 as a member of the Varsity 4+ boat. The Mills boat beat out schools from all divisions to take first place in the National Collegiate Rowing Championship. With Davis as her coach, Garza was an NCAA All-American in 2010 and 2011.
Swim team panelist, Melissa Berkay, provided the perspective of a current Cyclone. Berkay qualified for the NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships in 2016 and was named an All-American. Last spring, she was one of four finalists for the prestigious Wooden Cup, and is the world-record holder for completing the Catalina Channel crossing swimming only butterfly. Head swim coach, Neil Virtue, was also recognized. Virtue is in his 16th year at Mills and has coached individuals to 28 NAIA National qualifications in addition to coaching Berkay to an NCAA appearance.
Rounding out the panel was former volleyball standout Marla Mundis. A talented middle blocker, she helped her team to Bay Area Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Volleyball Championships in 1985 and 1986. Joining Mundis as the panel facilitator was former volleyball coach and current athletic director, Themy Adachi.
The picnic and panel set an inspirational tone for Mills student-athletes to build on throughout the year. The APER department was thrilled to reconnect with so many former Cyclones.