Both Pioneer soccer teams took time to meet and sign autographs for the youth players in attendance at Youth Soccer Day. (Photo: Patrick Civello)
The East Bay soccer community was out in full force on Oct. 8, when the Cal State East Bay men and women’s soccer teams hosted Youth Soccer Day during their CCAA doubleheader with Cal State Stanislaus at Pioneer Stadium. More than 300 youth soccer players representing 48 teams from the local community were on hand to cheer on the Pioneers and connect with Cal State East Bay players and coaches.
“My goals were to have the youth teams be a part of a great experience, have the players create lasting memories form their interaction with our East Bay teams and for families to have a positive experience with the university and the athletics department,” Marketing Coordinator and event organizer Tenaya Davis said. “We met those goals and the event was better than I ever expected. The youth players, coaches and families were a pleasure to have and I think we made a big step towards taking Pioneer Athletics to the next level.”
The youth players in attendance helped to give the Pioneers their largest crowd in recent memory, with over 400 in attendance at both the men and women’s games. The East Bay community was well represented at the event with players coming from Newark, Castro Valley, Union City, Hayward, Dublin, Pleasanton and Richmond’s youth soccer leagues.
“This is the closest college team for a lot of these youth players and their families and now I think they feel like they are a part of the East Bay family,” Davis said.
In the stands, the youth soccer players sat in a special section and did their best to cheer on the Pioneers with help from Pioneer Pete and Marketing Coordinators Jose-Luis Rayas and Davis. In addition, the youth players were treated to snacks of granola bars, fruit snacks and water during the games. Each youth player at the event also received a gift bag that included an East Bay drawstring bag, Pioneer Athletics youth t-shirt, mini East Bay soccer ball, a soccer slinky, a Pioneer maze pen and a copy of FUEL Magazine, generously donated by US Youth Soccer.
Among the highlights of the event for all on hand was a high-five tunnel formed by all the youth players on the field during the lineup announcements. In addition, during halftime of each game, the youth players were allowed to play on the field and after each game the Pioneer players took time to sign autographs and take photos.
The youth soccer players and their family and friends in attendance were on hand for a pair of quality performances from the Pioneers. Despite a pair of narrow 1-0 losses, the Pioneer players and coaches and their youth soccer counterparts were all smiles during the post-game autograph signings and photo sessions.
“The event was as enjoyable for the college players as it was for the youth players,” Davis said. “It was refreshing for the Pioneers to have that crowd come out and support them. The kids were so engaged and the players loved interacting with them. Even with the losses, it was hard not to leave with a huge smile on your face.”
The event set a new standard for community engagement events for Cal State East Bay Athletics. As a member of the NCAA Division II, the Pioneers are constantly looking for ways to interact with and draw the local community onto campus to encourage interest in Pioneer Athletics and build the campus as a hub for community events. Through Youth Soccer Day, the department hoped to have left an impression on all the players in attendance while creating a positive association with Pioneer Athletics for both the kids and their coaches and families.
“It was an amazing experience for the youth to be able to come and interact with the college players,” Davis said. “For the kids, these players are larger than life and role models; this event gave them the opportunity to find inspiration and motivation through watching and meeting the Pioneers.”
In addition to the great crowd and activities, Youth Soccer Day also helped the Pioneer Student-Athlete Advisory Council raise money for the Make-A-Wish Foundation, Division II’s chosen charity. Through $1 concession sales, SAAC set a new record with over $590 raised for the charity, which grants wishes to children with life-threatening medical conditions.
Photos from Youth Soccer Day are available for purchase from KLC Fotos, Cal State East Bay Athletics’ official photographers. Fans and parents can click here to view all the photos and purchase prints and digital copies.