When University of Oregon junior Nina-Grace Montes was growing up in Florence, her grandma used to send her care packages full of Sports Illustrated magazines brought home from the California hospital where she worked. A youth softball player and sports fan, Montes would eagerly await their delivery. The only downside was that the magazine didn’t cover many female athletes. “I got tired of waiting around for someone else to do it, so I eventually just did it myself,” says Montes, now a journalism student. In 2022, she debuted her women’s sports magazine Althea.
The idea for Althea — which is named after legendary tennis player Althea Gibson — came to Montes during the pandemic, when she found herself bored and looking for a new hobby. While dropping her younger sister off at prom, she thought back to her own high school days. “My softball team did very well and there was never anything about it,” she says. “Our local newspaper would cover the baseball team, but the baseball team won like two games all season. So I just remember feeling so frustrated. My team and I worked so hard.” She watched YouTube videos about starting a magazine, then began teaching herself Adobe and jumped into the project.
Montes drew inspiration for the magazine from both her own experiences as a young athlete and the female athletes whose careers she followed. She discovered that, like herself, the athletes and their fans have a wide variety of interests. In addition, she realized how much these sports figures can inspire change, like many WNBA stars did by rallying for racial justice in the summer of 2020. For these reasons, Althea covers not only the sports and athletes themselves, but also related fashion, art, self-care, and the impact that women’s sports have on society. “I kind of want to make it an art piece that represents women’s sports,” she says.
The inaugural issue of Althea came out in May 2022, and sold out. Montes got a boost from collaborating with women’s sports TikTok influencer Logan Hackett, whose followers quickly snapped up copies of the artfully designed magazine. Portland’s first-of-its-kind women’s sports bar, The Sports Bra, also began stocking the magazine. After hitting it off with Sports Bra owner Jenny Nguyen, Montes proposed the two join forces to put out the cookbook Meals of Champions. The cookbook, released in December, features favorite recipes from Althea, The Sports Bra, and well-known athletes such as Mia Hamm and Serena Williams.
Althea got a financial bump over the summer when UO’s Lundquist Center for Entrepreneurship awarded Montes a Rainmaker Grant, which has helped cover pricy printing costs. She plans to continue publishing a new issue each season. Eventually, Montes says, “I hope this either turns into something bigger or it inspires companies to pay more attention to women’s sports — because they deserve it. They’ve always deserved it.”