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Pioneer student-athletes get area girls moving


Cal State East Bay student-athletes are working to get area youth active through the BAWSI Pioneers Play program. (Photo: Miyoko Beetem)

  • December 4, 2012

Last month Pioneer Athletics announced a partnership with the Bay Area Women's Sports Initiative (BAWSI), the BAWSI Toolbox. This four-week activity program provides Cal State East Bay female student-athletes with the opportunity to interact with local elementary school students. The program focuses on one simple goal: to get young girls active and moving.

BAWSI was founded in 2005 in San Jose by a small group of passionate female athletes and advocates, including soccer legends Brandi Chastain and Julie Foudy, as well as Marlene Bjornsrud, former General Manager of the San Jose CyberRays professional women's soccer team and BAWSI's CEO. Bjornsrud and her co-founders envisioned the need for female athletes to stake their claim as strong, powerful leaders, capable of improving the world. Now BAWSI is expanding its work by partnering with female collegiate athletes outside its existing areas of service to reach more athletes looking to make a difference and to inspire a love of fitness in even more young girls.

Learn more about BAWSI

“We are thrilled to be partnering with Cal State East Bay and its female athletes to launch the BAWSI Toolbox,” said Miyoko Beetem, Regional Athlete Engagement Manager for BAWSI. “This program will equip the Pioneers with the tools needed to use their platform as athletes for the greater good by getting Hayward's kids moving, excited about exercise, and on their way to healthier, happier, safer, and more successful futures.”

Throughout the country, schools are losing PE Classes, recess time, and opportunities for students to participate in extracurricular sports and activities. In response, BAWSI created the BAWSI Toolbox, a free tool kit that equips any team of female athletes with necessary recourses so that more young girls can get active in sports.

This fall, BAWSI and the Cal State East Bay Pioneers are piloting the BAWSI Toolbox in order to showcase the Pioneers as service leaders in community service and make a positive difference in the lives of local children. Athletes from each of the Pioneer women's teams are bringing “Pioneers Play” to three Hayward schools: Fairview Elementary, Harder Elementary, and Russ Elementary. 

“Since first meeting with Marlene Bjornsrud and learning about BAWSI, I have hoped for East Bay to become a part of their programs,” said Debby De Angelis, Director of Athletics for Cal State East Bay. “Being able to be the pilot for their rollout of the BAWSI Toolbox is a great opportunity for the student-athletes we will have involved and an honor for Cal State East Bay Athletics. The leadership skills our student-athletes will learn and the opportunity to serve the Hayward community to help young girls learn to play and grow is a win-win experience. It gives us the opportunity to share the college experience and plant the seeds for college in the youth we will serve.”

The four-week “Pioneers Play” program began Nov. 7 at each participating elementary school. Five Pioneer athletes are working with 30 to 40 girls chosen by their schools to participate in the program. The Pioneers will lead fun activities supervised by the schools' teachers in order to get the kids excited about exercise. This will include everything from playground games like shipwreck, human knot, and tag, to fitness favorites like stretching, hula hoop, and yoga.

View the Pioneers Play photo gallery

During the first week of the program, student-athletes from volleyball and water polo helped kick off the program and led the Fairview students in blob tag, Follow the Leader, Simon Says and Grab the Bacon. 

The goal is for the BAWSI Toolbox to be reciprocally transformative, for the children to develop a lifestyle of physical activity and for the female athletes to realize the powerful impact they can have on the world. BAWSI strives to help young women see their potential as world-changers and leaders across all sectors, including government, business, education, and many more.

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