By Kenny Jacoby
On Sunday, October 7, the Cal State East Bay Athletics Department hosted Youth Soccer Day, giving recreational soccer players from around the East Bay the opportunity to watch the CSUEB Pioneers take on the Cal State Stanislaus Warriors. More than 35 youth teams of all ages were in attendance, representing Hayward, Newark, Castro Valley, and Pleasanton.
The kids, all dressed in their team uniforms, were more than excited to watch a higher level of gameplay and immerse themselves in the exhilarating atmosphere of college soccer. The boys teams mainly attended the Men’s Soccer game, while the girls enjoyed watching the Women’s Soccer team play. Altogether, there were nearly 300 youth soccer players in attendance for the two back-to-back games.
As the kids and their families started to arrive, the youth players gathered with their teammates at the entry gate and prepared to go down to the field for the pregame announcements. The East Bay mascot, Pioneer Pete, greeted the kids and helped lead them to midfield, where they stood on the field with the players during the reading of the starting lineups. As the names of the starters for both East Bay and Stanislaus were announced, the players ran onto the pitch, high-fiving the awe-inspired kids along the way.
The kids were then escorted to the VIP section of the bleachers, where they chanted and cheered in support of the Pioneers. There was an undoubted vibe of positive energy, as the kids, parents, and fans alike all expressed their excitement for the team. In the middle of the first half, the youth teams were then brought to the East Bay locker room, where they received Pioneer Prize Packs, complete with an East Bay drawstring backpack and mini plush soccer ball, a US Youth Soccer FUEL Magazine, and Pioneer maze pen and t-shirt. At halftime, the kids stormed onto the field where they passed the ball around to each other and took shots on goal on Pioneer Pete.
After another half of cheering and pure excitement from the audience, the Men’s team came up short, losing by the score of 1-0. Later, the Women’s team also suffered defeat, but despite the tough losses, the players’ spirits were lifted as they signed autographs for all the kids in attendance after the game. The young athletes were overjoyed at the opportunity to meet and greet the players, who are role models for them, as they have been able to continue playing soccer at a high level into adulthood.
All in all, the event was hugely successful both for the aspiring young soccer players and for Cal State East Bay. Nearly 1,000 fans were present between the two games, breaking the school’s previous attendance record for a single game. Everyone in attendance greatly relished the day of family fun and excitement, highlighted by the positive environment and level of joy and admiration amongst the kids. The concessions stand raised more than $500 in proceeds, all of which is going to be donated to the Make a Wish Foundation. This was the first event of its kind at Cal State East Bay, and it was an ideal way for young athletes to enhance their love for soccer.