Lauren Rabaino

Perhaps I am a little biased in my featured athlete this week for if I want to prove a point that women are just as tough as men, Sharon Day is a ring leader in this argument.

Day, a member of the Cal Poly soccer team and a high jumper for the track team, who hails from Costa Mesa, came out of the womb kicking. Her parents served as an immediate influence on her role in athletics. Her father played soccer his whole life and ran track in college, and her mother was a high jumper in college.

“I’ve never imagined myself not being an athlete,” Day said.

Day has been running track since she was seven and has played soccer since she was nine. She is in her last year of college athletics as a kinesiology major and hopes to continue high jumping for as long as possible.

“Sharon is absolutely awesome on the field and off,” fellow teammate and fifth-year team captain Alli Tramel said of Day.

Day will head to the University of Oregon in Eugene this June to compete in the world’s largest national championship track meet, which hosts more than 1,000 athletes competing for spots on the United States Olympic team. She needs to place in the top three in high jumping to make it to the Olympics next summer.

When her athletic career does come to an end, she will still surround herself with athletics by doing something in the sports management field.

Because Day has been successful for so long and should continue to be in the future, she hasn’t really experienced any type of athletic oppression.

Although she doesn’t really need any words of wisdom to help her along, she says that “it’s inspiring that women can get past stereotypes and prevail.”

Day carries herself in a fashion that exudes confidence and this, along with her obvious domination on the field, has limited the amount of flack she hears for being a woman in sports. She does admit that many women are still overlooked in the sports arena.

“People need to expand their horizons,” Day said when asked why she thought many people fail to accept that women are part of the athletic world. “We need to get the word out more for women’s sports.”

She said that women can be aggressive and play male-dominated sports like basketball and shouldn’t have to hear jokes from commentators.

“I like the fact that there aren’t a lot of women out there held back by stereotypes,” she said.

She added that for many women, the fact that people don’t believe in them actually helps them to prevail.

This attitude explains why Tramel believes Day to be a role model for the younger women on the team.

“She’s a leader on the field just by her work ethic,” Tramel said.

Day experienced a season on the sidelines last year due to a broken left foot but she still found a way to be a leader and was able to regain her health by track season.

“It was really hard sitting on the sidelines and not competing,” she said.

But she added that she “took a new perspective on it” and “found different ways to help the team.”

Day, who was used to leading by example while on the field, became more vocal in her leadership in order to pump up her team.

“My teammates are always letting me know that they like the way I play,” she said. And thus, when she couldn’t be on the field, Day returned the favor to her teammates.

“Despite being an athlete, I appreciate her honesty, integrity and her willingness to give all that she can,” said Tramel.

Tramel added that Day is never cocky, but always confident. She never boasts about her accomplishments and she remains very level-headed.

“She’s one of the people I respect most on the team,” Tramel said.

Day seems to surround herself with positive women. She said that her team consists of a really good group of women who are like a family.

Tramel also had a few things to add about women in the sports world.

“It’s not just Cal Poly, it’s society (that forgets about women’s sports.) They want to watch football, baseball and basketball,” Tramel said.

Day also said that students on campus should have an open mind about athletics and realize that there are countless sports on campus and that they should stray away from only watching football and basketball. Her favorite sport to watch other than soccer is water polo.

Although Tramel admits that men may be more athletic than women, a quality that she admires about female athletes is the fact that they have to work so much harder than men to be physically fit.

For example, she explained that she and her teammates lift weights twice a week during the season while the men’s soccer team does not.

In other words, the women’s team is just as fit as the men’s yet they have to work harder to be that way.

Also, Tramel said that women are willing to get bumps and bruises in order to succeed. As I looked down at my scar-ridden knees and shins from years of hard fought games, I couldn’t help but agree.

“We make the game exciting. We don’t back down to opponents,” she said.

Perhaps this is why the women’s soccer team has such support at home.

“Our program has had a good fan base within the community,” Day said, “but as a whole, the men definitely get a lot more attention.”

Day also said that although she always plays as hard as possible, “it is different when you see a lot of familiar faces in the crowd,” as it gives her more incentive and motivation.

The soccer team has been in a slump for quite sometime now, so Poly students should go help out Day and her teammates when they play at Spanos Stadium.

“We’ve been getting progressively better each week. We need to work on finishing and putting the ball in the net,” Day said.

You can help by showing up at the team’s next game against No. 2 Santa Clara this Friday at Alex G. Spanos Stadium. The game starts at 7 p.m.

Go cheer on this chick with balls.

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